Healing Through Hunting: A November Veteran Mule Deer Hunt
Last November we had the privilege of documenting our 4th Annual veteran mule deer hunt in conjunction with Hunts for the Brave. As we’ve mentioned before in other articles, Hunts for the Brave is a non-profit organization whose mission is to get veterans out hunting, fishing, and all fun things outdoors. I have personally been on 4 of these hunts now and it’s a hunt I look forward to every single year. You can watch our prior veteran hunts on our Youtube Channel.
Veterans Marc Cooper and Casey Smith circa 2019
The 2022 veteran mule deer hunt was extremely special. Hunts for the Brave board member Bryant Jacobs was reunited with two other soldiers he was deployed with in Iraq that he hasn’t seen for two decades. Bryant had been blown up by an IED and really hadn’t seen Carlos or Chris since that time, although they had kept in touch lightly. Seeing these three men that had put everything on the line for our country reunited was an extremely emotional and touching experience. I can truly say that it didn't seem like they had skipped a beat. They were laughing, joking, and speaking to one another like they had never been apart.
Long story short, this veteran November mule deer hunt was one for the books! Both Carlos and Chris harvested beautiful 4-point bucks that any avid hunter would be proud of. Yet, these nice bucks were simply a small part of the overall experience. These heroes were more interested in catching up with one another, and this time, their meeting was in a calm, beautiful, serene mountain range in Northern Utah rather than the hellish desert floor of Iraq.
To all veterans reading this, THANK YOU for your service. We know and understand that we cannot properly thank you, or repay you - but know that our gratitude is great.
You can watch Carlos and Chris's deer hunt here:
Enjoy some written words from the veterans themselves on their recent experience.
Words from Chris Harry
“Our friendship started at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii when we were assigned to B company 65th Engineer Battalion in the summer of 2003. Bryant, Carlos, and I became best friends. We would always joke around and build a bond that has stood the test of time. We did not know what the future held for us as we prepared for deployment to Iraq in January of 2004. Our deployment became a nightmare on 3 December 2004 as our convoy was hit by an IED. Our lives were changed forever. We lost a good Soldier that day and Bryant was severely injured. He was medevaced to get the help he needed. The rest of us were in shock at what had just happened. Fast forward a year or two, while on leave, I went to see Bryant at the Walter Reed Hospital and that was the last time we had spoken to each other in person for at least 18 years. During that time, we had stayed in touch through social media and phone calls here and there.
I was so excited to hear that I had been selected for this hunting trip with Hunts for The Brave in Utah. I thought seeing each other after this long there would be some awkward moments but it was like we had never been apart. The hunting trip for me was not about harvesting wild game, it was a bonding experience between Brother in Arms that has brought us closer together and created more memories for us to share with our families. While on the hunting trip I did harvest a nice 4-point buck and I got to share this experience with my best friends. This hunting trip brought us together again. It has helped strengthen our bond further than what it was before.” - Chris Harry
Words from Carlos Muniz
“I first met Bryant as a new recruit when he arrived at Schofield Barracks. He was quickly added to our squad where we started our friendship. It was on deployment where we really got to know each other and began to form a close bond. Chris and I were always joking and rough housing all the time. Bryant and I always talked about home and girls. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner and worked out together all the time. We were all pretty close. Even though we knew what Iraq was going to be, we never thought we would get hit with an IED. That day a lot changed. When Bryant was flown out through Medivac, that was the last time I’d see him for close to 20 years. I kept in touch every now and then through social media, but it wasn’t until this trip I got to reunite with Chris and Bryant. This trip with Hunts for the Brave was an awesome experience and helped to heal some old scars. Our camaraderie continued right where we left off! Although I was extremely excited about this hunt, taking down a deer with Bryant and Chris there was epic to say the least. I’m so very thankful for being selected for this hunting trip with Bryant and Chris.
Time and distance may separate us but this bond and friendship that we have formed will last forever.
We sincerely want to thank everybody involved with making this trip so memorable for us. Hunts for The Brave, Jon, Paul, Kevin, BoBo, Jeff, Clayton, Brian, Aaron, Brayden, Ken, the CWMU, and all those behind the scenes. If we forgot to mention you, still know that you were a big part of this trip for us. - Juan Carlos Muniz