Marion Pheasant Hunt Brings Hundreds of Veterans Together

“Vets need a chance to get together. This is a great way to do it.”

The fields were filled with the color orange Friday morning.

Local veterans were hunting side-by-side, years after their service.

The Disabled Veterans and Law Enforcement Pheasant Hunt has brought hundreds of veterans to Tails-A-Waggin’ Acres in Marion for 12 years now.

It’s free for veterans, lasts until Monday and is much more than a hunting weekend.

9&10’s Cody Boyer joined them in the fields today to learn the hunt’s true meaning.

“There’s a kinship that you have, guys in the service and stuff,” says Tim Beaver, who works as the owner of Tails-A-Waggin’ Acres right-hand man. “Especially guys who have been in combat.”

Nothing says “comradery” like veterans gearing up in the fog, waiting for the hunt of a lifetime.

“You’ll see somebody that has struggled some way or another, mentally, physically, whatever and to see them get out and just kind of forget about that for the hour or so,” Beaver says.

The morning sun rose with the voices of veterans as everyone sang the National Anthem during the opening ceremony, alongside an honor guard.

Then, the hunt was on.

“Last year, we had 278 hunters in five days and we went through 1,200 birds,” Beaver says.

Allen Retlewski, a Vietnam War draftee, was among the orange vests in the field.

Guides and their hunting dogs joined them.

“It’s just cool, you know?” Retlewski says. “I don’t get a chance really to hunt much anymore. I used to do a lot more but I’m getting older, it’s a little bit harder to do that.”

“I feel honored,” says Rick Stanfield, hunting guide. “I mean, I was honored to guide but I also feel honored to be part of this whole group.

“When I came home from ‘Nam, you didn’t tell anybody you were a ‘Nam vet,” Retlewski says. “I lived that way for 40 years. Vets need a chance to get together. This is a great way to do it.”

Wielding guns for sport — not for battle, but for inner peace.

“The comradery that goes on, it’s heartfelt,” Beaver says. “You just get that warm feeling that you are doing something good for somebody.”