Wounded Warrior Project
Mongo and Dad headed out to Ellensburg on the 4th of March of this year to again work with the Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior Project’s vision is: “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”
Mongo and Dad enjoy their work with the veterans. This is an opportunity for some veterans to engage in a sport they already enjoy, and for others to learn a new skill. The veterans are all fine young Americans. Some are still in the service. Others have left the service. Some have lingering injuries from their time in the military. Others needed some assistance with the shotgun, and still others needed help with mobility, but all showed great spirit, drive, and determination to make the day a success.
As Dad and Mongo exited the highway, the morning sum was crisp and clean. Dad could see the Cascades north of town as he drove up Main street.
At the field, the veterans first practiced their marksmanship at the clay pigeon station. The first person Mongo and Dad saw at the station was Ross. Ross is one of the volunteers. He is a seasoned hunter and is the gentleman who first invited Mongo and Dad to help out. Mongo and Dad have been out multiple times. Mongo and Ross are buddies.
After practice at the clay station, the veterans headed out into the fields led by volunteer guides. The guides gave instructions on safety, etiquette, and technique, but it still took a little time for them to become comfortable with the process.
For Dad’s team, the process involved two dogs working the field, a pointer and a flusher. Mongo was the flusher and he was born to be a task. It is his special purpose in life.
The pointer’s job would be to guide Mongo through the sparse sage brush to the bird, whereupon Mongo would hold until released. When released by Dad, Mongo would plunge into the brush, and the bird would flush from cover.
On the first flush, Dad checked with the fire team, and then released Mongo. The bird burst into the air in a flurry of wings. Mongo and Dad waited for the report from the shotguns, but the only sound was the sound of wing beats heading off into the distance. It was deafening, and was only trumped by the maniacal cackle of the escaped rooster echoing off the distant hills.
Dad slowly turned toward the three hunters with a look of disbelief on his face. Then it dawned on Dad that this was their first time upland hunting. Dad went over in detail as to what to expect when Mongo flushed the bird, and there was sudden recognition in the eyes of the hunters, and much nodding of heads. Clearly, Dad had not communicated all the expectations in their entirety. The team would be ready for the next bird.
After that first miscue, things greatly improved. The pointer led the team to the cover, and Mongo paused waiting the release command. The team executed flawlessly and bagged the quarry. From there on they all functioned like clockwork.
The team covered a lot of ground during the day, moving across the fields and up and dawn through the draws. At one point they even flushed a large owl from its perch. The team watched the owl wing away silently. Unlike a pheasant, not a wing beat could be heard.
The team worked hard to bring birds out of the wooded streambeds and out of high cover, and in the process worked up quite an appetite. At the end of the day, the team gathered up to head back to the ranch house for dinner. As they rode down the farm road, they got a close up view of a bald eagle perched in a tree overlooking the canal.
At the house, Alice outdid herself again in feeding the veterans. Many people in the community also donated dishes to the buffet. After dinner, The vets all had smiles on their faces as they leaned back in the chairs and savored the day’s events.