Pharos-Tribune

Local Sports

October 9, 2012

Martino: Hunters more than happy to take part in Freedom Hunt

Event on Cass County farm gives special kids a special weekend

On almost any given day, Jim Rogers’ Cass County farm is a tranquil setting with rolling crop land, green pastures and sprawling woods bordering the gently flowing waters of the Eel River. But for one weekend a year it becomes a hub of activity, a place where friendships and memories are made transgressing lifetimes.

For the seventh year in a row, Rogers graciously donated his land for the increasingly popular Freedom Hunt.

“When I was first approached, I had liability concerns,” Rogers explained. “But after thinking it over, I realized I would rather see these kids have fun more than anything. I owe it to Steve Griffey.”

Griffey, brainchild of the event, has created an opportunity for children with life-altering disabilities to take advantage of Indiana’s special youth deer hunting weekend. Because of the growing list of responsibilities for this one-of-a-kind opportunity, several years back he enlisted the help of Logansport attorney Brad Rozzi, who now serves as the hunt’s coordinator.

“I can’t thank Steve enough for getting me involved,” Rozzi said appreciatively.

Through months of planning, both men put together a unique event which provides much more than the opportunity to take children deer hunting. Freedom Hunt takes in the entire weekend. It’s a time for camping, outdoor activities, fishing and of course, hunting our state’s most popular big-game animal.

Sleeping quarters were provided by the Indiana National Guard where days earlier they erected several large army style canvas tents, each containing rows of folding cots. Two other tents served as cooking and dining quarters.

Travis Clemans was one who helped set up the tents. He then decided to spend the entire weekend at the hunt. Clemans, a former Marine, served two tours in Iraq before joining the National Guard.

“When I realized exactly what was going on, I wanted to stay and help,” he explained. “I have seen a lot of things in my life, both good and bad, but this just gives me goose bumps.”

It’s easy to witness the magic that takes place on that rural farm. This year, the hunt hosted 17 young hunters with disabilities, running the gamut from brain injuries, leukemia and ADHD to other life-changing ailments. They sure didn’t ask for it and sure don’t deserve it. Yet these kids welcome each day with a zest for life that is infectious. If only more adults could be so positive.

The Freedom Hunt literally takes an army of volunteers. The soul of the event are those who cook, clean, set up, organize and then tear everything down, leaving the land as it was the week before. But the heartbeat lies with the guides who spend several days with the kids.

They are attorneys, police officers, construction workers and businessmen. It seems those with the least amount of time are usually the ones who give the most. They put their own busy schedules on hold to help these special kids.

The guides met their young hunter weeks before the hunt actually began. Not only do they become acquainted with the child and their parents, they go over safety rules before overseeing them on the shooting range practicing with the equipment they will be using.

“This is by far my favorite thing to do all year,” guide Rob Davis of Kokomo said as he returned to camp with his young hunter, Quinton Doty. The pair saw success with Doty taking a plump doe on opening morning.

“I was shaking so badly but Rob helped me get the gun up and calmed me down,” Doty said appreciatively, while patting his guide on the arm.

Although this was the first year for guide Rocky Sears, also from Kokomo, there is little doubt he will be back.

“I just can’t believe how rewarding this is,” he said, while looking over the camp during lunch. “I would much rather see these kids have success than myself.”

Another Kokomo resident, Tom Williams, who served as a conservation officer for 32 years before retiring, is now in his third year as a guide.

“This is my way of giving back,” he said in his familiar drawn-out, deep voice. “And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Tom Hewitt, a DNR employee in his 32nd year as a wildlife biologist, also served as a guide.

“I have been fortunate to have taken many game animals throughout my life,” he mentioned, while a group of us talked about the weekend events. “But nothing is better for me than helping a child who may not have the same opportunities as other children.”

While taking a few moments to savor the sweet smell of the camp fire, which burned continuously, it was no surprise to see local businessman Glenn Stephens come walking into camp. He has been there since the hunt’s inaugural event in 2006. As far as I’m concerned, he sets the standard in volunteer efforts. If there is any outdoor-oriented event aimed at children, any children, you will likely see Stephens there volunteering his time.

“I would much rather see kids get involved in the outdoors than anything else,” he explained, “and I want to do my part to help that.”

On Sunday afternoon, as the hunt drew to a close, nine of the children ended up collecting deer. The camp bustled with activity as everyone began packing their equipment for the return home. Every child took time to express their sincere appreciation to the people who made the event possible. But in the end, it wasn’t really about who collected deer and who didn’t. It was about great people, doing great things for even greater children!

• John Martino is the Kokomo Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at jmartinooutdoors@att.net.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local Sports
  • SPT-PT041814 LHS Tennis.jpg Logan tops Lewis Cass in early season tennis match Logansport's girls tennis team defeated rival Lewis Cass 4-1 Thursday in Walton. The Berries improved to 2-1 on the young season while the Kings dropped to 0-1. Whitney Jennings defeated Gabi Hartley 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, Brooke Bullard defeated

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • No. 7 Lewis Cass baseball falls at HN, 3-2 Lewis Cass' baseball team suffered its first setback of the season with a 3-2 loss at Huntington North on Thursday. Kyle Dwiggins hit a two-run home run for the Class 2A No. 7 Kings (3-1) in the fourth inning. He later doubled. But the Vikings scored

    April 18, 2014

  • SPT-PT041714 - phs AOW Kayte Miller.jpg Miller looking for one more big season for the Panthers Pioneer senior Kayte Miller has enjoyed a lot of success in volleyball and softball during her four-year career. Miller has one more season of softball this spring with the Panthers before she will play the sport at Ancilla College next year. Miller

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-PT041714 - lhs baseball.jpg Logan baseball wins at Taylor, moves to 4-1 Logansport's baseball team held off a late Taylor rally for a 13-9 win Wednesday in Kokomo. The Berries (4-1) were one out away from winning by 10-run rule in the fifth inning before the Titans (1-1) extended the game with two runs to make it a 13-4

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs, April 17 Logansport to honor Jennings on May 16 The Berry Boosters and Logansport High School are having a community celebration to honor and recognize the 2014 Indiana Miss Basketball, Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year and Parade All-American Whitney Jenni

    April 17, 2014

  • SPT-PT041614 - Nate Champion.jpg Champion caps Le Moyne career with run to NCAA Tourney

    For Nate Champion reaching the NCAA Tournament was always a major goal at Division-II Le Moyne University. Champion and the Dolphins reached that goal this season during his senior year. Champion said that when he and 6-foot-11 big man Jim Janson ent

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Wednesday, April 16 Lewis Cass senior point guard Maci Maupin will continue her basketball career at the next level.

    April 16, 2014

  • SPL - PT041614 - Tom Lindley column - Lindley column sig We're all still watching Wildcats' Calipari After winning a big case and accepting compliments from his fellow attorneys, the man thanked his colleagues and responded that he really would have liked to represent the opposition. “I think I could have won arguing their side, too,” he told them.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Logan AD Fisher to retire Logansport athletic director Greg Fisher’s retirement request was approved by the Logansport Community School Corporation school board Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Sports briefs for Tuesday, April 15 Monday's inclement weather meant led to postponements of scheduled sporting events.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Poll

Should e-cigarette marketing be regulated like tobacco?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.