On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 18, 2017, the Barker Ranch in West Richland, Washington, hosted its 10th Annual Wounded Veteran Duck Hunt to honor those that have served and sacrificed for their country.
The Barker Ranch is a 2,000-acre private ranch and wildlife area that is best known for the volume of ducks and geese that reside there, but more recently has become a favorite springtime locale for birders to spot Sandhill Cranes. Barker Ranch is enrolled in a conservation easement through NRCS and is currently partnering with the agency on a long-term project to restore and enhance wetland functions and wildlife habitat.
Some of the veterans that participate in the hunt have obvious wounds and others have wounds not so obvious. This year, 19 veterans participated in the hunt from several organizations including Vets on the Farm, Richland Rod and Gun Club, Ducks Unlimited, Spokane Conservation District, and Benton Conservation District.
All participants were guided by employees of Barker Ranch, many of whom are veterans themselves, and supplied a catered BBQ lunch by Contech Engineered Solutions. Most of the vets harvested limits of birds before sunset, but the most important part of the day was the camaraderie. Michael Crowder, the ranch’s general manager, says the hunt is his “favorite day of the year. These guys have become like brothers to me.”
For the last two years, Vets on the Farm, a Washington state program, has been invited to participate in the duck hunt. Vicki Carter, director of the Spokane Conservation District, teamed up with Crowder, who is also the second vice president of NACD, to bring eight program participants to the hunt. Vets on the Farm is a program designed to help veterans transition from their military careers into conservation and agricultural related careers.
“We first started Vets on the Farm in Spokane, but in just over two years, we’ve gained a presence in seven eastern Washington counties,” Carter says. “As a young, passionate, and growing program, we were so grateful to be included in Barker Ranch’s 10th annual duck hunt and look forward to participating in future events like this one.”
For more information about Vets on the Farm, check out their website at www.vetsonthefarm.org or visit “Vets on the Farm” on Facebook.