Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter Photographer 

Bringing a community together

 

October 3, 2019

Lara Love

Vietmam War Veteran Bernie Altman performs a magic trick with the assistance of Aksel Polson and Talon Owsley at the Hunting with Heroes banquet Saturday night.

"It is programs like this that bring the community together. These are the things that make America great. We need more things like this across the country."

Those are the words of Michael, a veteran from North Carolina who went on his first antelope hunt this past weekend as part of Hunting with Heroes in Thermopolis.

In spite of the cold weather, along with rain and hail, he was very grateful to have gotten the opportunity to come to Wyoming for the hunt.

"I had a buddy that told me about the program," he said, "and I pretty much blew him off. Now, I'm glad I did it. I would definitely come back if I were chosen again."

The Hunting for Heroes program matches disabled veterans with local volunteers and donated hunting tags to spend a weekend going on a hunt they may not otherwise be able to do.

At the banquet held in their honor on Saturday night at the VFW, there was no limit to the praise the veterans gave not only the program, but the people who took time out of their lives to give them an amazing opportunity.

Ben Bruce, an army veteran from the Fort Collins area has very specific plans for the antelope he took down on Saturday.

"I have friends in the Veterans Service Office at Colorado State University," he said. "I had been really looking for direction after getting out of the army and these guys suggested applying for a space with Hunting for Heroes."

As it turned out, it basically saved his life as he has been able to go on more than one hunt with the program and that helped him find his way to becoming a taxidermist.

Bruce will be doing his own mount, but the meat will be going to a friend that is in a tough spot. "I have enough," he said, "but he really needs this."

One of the more entertaining veterans of the evening came to Wyoming from Florida, but it didn't take more than one sentence to know his roots are definitely in Brooklyn.

The only Vietnam Veteran on the hunt, Bernie Altman had always wanted to come to Wyoming or Montana and said he was "like a little kid" when he found out he had been selected for this hunt.

Altman went out with Mike Baker and the pair had an amazing story to tell about their hunt.

The pair went out on Friday to do a little scouting before the actual antelope hunt on Saturday. At the time, they saw a lot of antelope in the area and decided to meet up in the morning to try their luck.

Lara Love

One of the veterans who participated in Hunting with Heroes shared his thoughts with his newly-made friends at Saturday's banquet.

They met at Baker's about 7:45 a.m. and headed out, reaching their destination about 8:00 a.m.

After parking, Baker noticed a single buck walking up to the truck on the passenger side. He got out of the truck and handed Altman the rifle. Altman was a bit afraid to get out of the truck, worried he'd spook the buck and that would be the end of it.

However, even after getting out of the truck the buck just wandered along slowly and he took him down with a single shot just 47 steps away from the truck.

They were done by 8:20 a.m.

Along with telling a terrific, funny story about his hunt, Altman also performed a few magic tricks for the kids at the banquet Saturday night.

This was the fourth time the local VFW participated in Hunting with Heroes and they are looking forward to next year already.

 

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