Something special happened recently at the BLV Hunting Lodge in Irion County, Texas. I had the privilege of hosting a father/son deer hunt, along with my Bobcat Group partner Shea Morenz and co-sponsored by Bill Nikolauk, president and CEO of 1st Community Federal Credit Union, for members of the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF), which supports combat wounded heroes and their families.

Sergio Gasca is one of the dads who joined the hunt with his 12-year-old son Sergio, Jr.  Sergio, Sr. was injured in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle as his unit was doing route clearance. He took permanent shrapnel to the face and has PTSD. He now works in IT for the Veterans Administration.

Sergio, Sr. said the father/son hunt was a bonding experience for him and his son.

In his words:

In addition to Sergio, Jr., I have a 10-year-old son, Joaquim, and I had been teaching both the boys about firearm safety. But I had nowhere to take them to practice their skills. At the ranch, our hosts did a briefing for the warriors’ sons on rifle safety, and then there was a range for them to practice. The facilities were amazing.

I brought my own personal rifle out there with me. It’s what I used to shoot my first deer. Well, my son used it too and shot his first deer with it … a buck. So, that was something special.

I would say overall it was just an awesome experience, just getting away from day-to-day life. My son talked about it for three or four days after we got back. It was a priceless situation, and it really makes a difference at least in my life because I was able to be away with him and not worry about anything else and just enjoy the three days we had there. Even the four-hour drive out to the ranch gave me time to spend with my son.

I am really grateful to Scooter for opening up his home to all us dads and our sons.

David Dougherty is a retired Army Ranger with 25 years of Army service under his belt. He served in the Rangers as a command sergeant major with 70,000 troops beneath him.  Deployments took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Cameroon, the Baltics and Ukraine.

He now works as the Program Advancement Executive Director for the Military Warriors Support Foundation. He does recreational therapy with the veterans and says that being outdoors is very important to the warriors. He’s been participating as a guide at these hunts for six years and attended this recent father/son hunt. He says he’s still getting thankful text messages from the dads who participated.

In his words:

These types of weekends are unique for the veterans because they may not be able to do this on their own … learn about an animal … harvest an animal … and bring their children in on the process. And being outdoors and shooting brings them back to their days in the military. Plus, outdoor activity in and of itself is a huge stress relief.

At the hunt we wanted to focus on how to build up the relationship and allow the dad to focus on the child. There are stresses in shooting an animal and it can be scary, but we made sure the boys, aged 10-14 years old, were trained and prepared … by one of the best Army snipers out there.

After a kill, watching father and son pray over the deer and thank god for the harvest of this amazing animal, well that was pretty amazing. It was emotional to me just seeing how close the fathers and sons got together.

And the military dads got to talk to one another too and open up. For example, if you have ever had to kill another human being in combat … that’s not an easy thing to talk about and you don’t just bring it up with anyone. The wounded warriors can talk to one another on weekends away like this one. It’s a safe time and place to open up.

“With everything that is changing in the world, this will not change,” Scooter told me about these hunts. “We’ll always have them.” He has become a true personal friend.

On the last night of the hunt there was a campfire and I had a chance to speak to the fathers and sons.

I mentioned that I had hunted with my father and shared a similar experience as the sons had with their dads and how one day they would do the same with their kids. I told them how awesome it was to do that with my three kids and what an amazing and powerful bond and memory it creates. It was an honor to host these men and their boys. I hope the hunt was everything they had hoped for and more.

Military Warriors Support Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity which provides support and programs to facilitate a smooth and successful transition for our nation’s combat wounded heroes and Gold Star families. Its programs focus on housing and homeownership, recreational activities, transportation assistance and leadership development. To learn more visit: