Brothers in Arms: Buck Creek Hunt Camp a success for veterans

The americna flag flew high at the base camp for the first Brothers in Arms big-game hunt for veterans at the Buck Creek Ranch near Paonia.



Steve Stewart of Grand Junction pauses mid-stream during the initial Brothers in Arms big-game hunt held in late October on the Buck Creek Ranch near Paonia. Stewart and Somerset-based outfitter Terry Commander developed the idea for the hunt and the eventual goal of involving not only veterans but also their families in a variety of outdoor activities.



Disabled veteran Ray Robinson of Grand Junction was one of the participants in the initial Brothers in Arms Buck Creek Ranch big-game hunt in late October.



QUICKREAD

BROTHERS IN ARMS

For more information, including sponsors or donations, call Steve Stewart at 243-4354 or Terry Commander at 960-929-6202.



For years, Steve Stewart has been repairing and rebuilding high-end automobiles.

Now, he’s hoping to rebuild the lives of veterans and their families.

Stewart, owner of Grand Junction’s highly respected automotive repair business The Foreign Aid, recently partnered with Somerset-based outfitter Terry Commander to host the first Brothers in Arms Buck Creek Hunt Camp.

The late-October big-game hunt was conducted on the Buck Creek Ranch, part of billionaire Bill Koch’s extensive holdings in Gunnison County, and attracted nine disabled and able-bodied veterans, Stewart said.

“It was a huge learning curve for us and a great experience for the guys,” Stewart said. “We had great support from private landowners and local businesses.”

Support for the veterans’ hunt came from numerous local sponsors, including Wiggy’s Inc., which donated eight sleeping bags; Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and the Grand Junction chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“It was a great contribution to share a piece of land that is a natural wintering and migration area for elk,” said Commander, a long-time member of the Colorado Outfitters Association and president of the nonprofit group Outdoors Alive. “In addition, they assisted in the purchase of hunting tags for two of the wounded warriors.”

According to its website, Outdoors Alive promotes outdoor recreation “with an emphasis on youth, disabled, handicapped and underprivileged persons.”

Stewart said this year’s participants included four disabled veterans and four Vietnam-era veterans.

The weather made hunting extra difficult and only one deer was harvested, but the event wasn’t focused only on harvest, Commander said in an email.

“The success was in the opportunity to bring together a group of ‘Brothers in Arms’ ranging (from) the Viet Nam War to the current Afghanistan’s War,” Commander wrote. “The honor was to say thank you in return for their service to our country and our freedom.”

Next year’s hunt already is being planned, Stewart said.

“We look forward to building the second Buck Creek Ranch Hunting Camp with improvements,” he said. “I have visited with Tom Glass at (Koch’s) Bear Ranch, and we have discussed acquiring land vouchers or either-sex tags, unobtrusive blinds to be built for comfort of the wounded warrior and trails cleared for easier access.”

Stewart also said next year’s hunt is being boosted by this year’s participants, all of whom have been invited back as guides and camp help.

“All of the guys were given the opportunity to pay it forward to another wounded warrior or veteran of their choice to join us in 2013,” Stewart said. “I have the feeling this thing is really going to take off.”

The eventual goal is to get more veterans, youths and families of the veterans “out into the wild to experience hunting, fishing and rafting,” Stewart said.

For more information, including sponsors or donations, call Steve Stewart at 243-4354 or Terry Commander at 960-929-6202.


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