GJ youngsters honored to participate in Justin Burns Memorial Hunts
A pair of young hunters recently were selected to participate in the first two Justin Burns Memorial Hunts.
The recognition was part of a brief ceremony at a recent Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting in Grand Junction.
The hunt is named in honor of a 14-year-old from Palisade killed in a tragic accident while hunting with his father on Grand Mesa in 2015. By living up to the ideals and character of the hunt’s namesake, both boys earned the opportunity to hunt cow elk on private land during last year’s seasons.
According to Burns’ father, Cory, and District Wildlife Manager Michael Blanck of Collbran, Brett Wagner, 18, and Keith McCloud, 12, both of Grand Junction, were selected because they each have many of the same qualities as Justin Burns.
“Justin’s family wants to keep their son’s name and memory alive by honoring young hunters with good character and ethics, like Keith and Brett,” Blanck said. “Justin was known as a good kid, a good student and an ethical hunter, and naming a special hunt after him is the right thing to do.”
Wagner hunted during fall of 2016, and McCloud, participating in his first big-game hunt, went on a hunt last December. Each young hunter received mentorship from the landowners donating their private land and each harvested a cow elk.
“I had such an amazing hunt with some truly amazing people,” Wagner said. “I want to thank everybody who helped me during this hunt and for giving me such an amazing opportunity. Thank you so much and God bless.”
McCloud agreed: “I think it was a great opportunity. The hunt was fun and a great experience. I feel very honored to have been chosen to receive the hunt and it was amazing to meet the Burns family. I admire their strength and courage. I’d like to thank the Burns family, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and everyone else who made this hunt possible. It was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Blanck said the hunts were a great success.
“We extend our thanks to the landowners that helped make these hunts happen,” he said. “It’s really a very good cause to honor the memory of a fantastic kid like Justin, and provide an experience of a lifetime to young people of good character.”
The private land hunts will continue in the future.
“We are developing new rules and criteria as we move forward,” Blanck said. “Cory and I want to give deserving young hunters who meet the ideals established by Justin and his family an opportunity to participate in a special hunt like this.”