Veterans Come Together for Pheasant Hunt in Colorado

by Jennifer Shea

Twelve veterans from five different states joined forces to go pheasant hunting in Colorado and found the local hospitality above and beyond expectations.

The Hunter HD Hogan Foundation sponsored their hunt. Launched by Steve Hogan of Aurora, Colorado, the foundation honors the memory of Hogan’s son Hunter, a U.S. Marine who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2012.

The veterans, plus one first responder, hailed from Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio, the Imperial Republican reports. They gathered in Imperial and Chase County to go after some pheasant and enjoy each other’s company. And they were surprised and delighted by the reception they got from locals.

Veterans Pleasantly Surprised by Warm Reception

The veterans got to Imperial County, Colorado on Thursday night. Their first surprise was how much hunting ground was at their disposal, thanks to local landowners.

“There was no way we could have walked all the fields that were donated to us” to use for hunting, Hogan told the Republican. “People were still calling and texting us to offer more ground on Saturday.”

The group visited the Imperial VFW Post and the Chase County Veterans Memorial over the weekend. They also shared meals together, bonding quickly and swapping phone numbers. They got along swimmingly even they were just meeting each other for the first time.

On Friday night, several of them went out to a local restaurant, Enders, to share a meal. When Hogan tried to pay for their food, he learned that someone outside their table had already picked up the tab.

The veterans were also taken aback at how many words of gratitude for their service they heard from locals during their stay.

“They saw a lot of love and appreciation here,” said Brad Moline, Hogan’s cousin, who helped Hogan plan the weekend. “This is one of the most patriotic communities.”

Veterans’ Hunt Just Part of Foundation’s Programming

Hogan has been sponsoring these excursions, both for former soldiers and for Gold Star children, for about five years. But sponsoring hunting trips for veterans is not the only thing Hogan’s foundation does. It also sponsors scholarships, of which it has given out more than $350,000 in aid.

Hogan didn’t set out to start a foundation. But when he got donations in lieu of flowers in the wake of his son’s death, he knew he had to do something to honor his son’s memory.

“I’ve been so lucky through our tragedy to be able to carry on HD’s legacy and pay it forward,” he told the Republican.

As for the veterans, Hogan said this hunting weekend pales in comparison to their service to the country. And he’s just glad that the veterans, who wrestle with various disabilities as a result of their service, were able to forget their cares for a weekend and make some new friends.

“Everyone had an unbelievable time,” Hogan said.