CAMP RIPLEY – Minnesota National Guard service members gathered at Camp Ripley during the first snowfall of the season for the 3rd annual muzzle loaders hunt Dec. 2-4.
“We all love hunting and talk about it during the deployments; said Col. Paul Roecker, Operations Officer for the Minnesota Joint Force Headquarters. “Hunts like this one are a great chance for soldiers and airmen to get out and enjoy a sport that they may have missed out on during a deployment,” added Roecker.
The hunt, in its third year, is growing in popularity. Registration for the hunts on Camp Ripley fills up fast not only for the muzzle loaders hunt, but also for the other outdoor sporting events that take place on Camp Ripley.
“We have made the process a little more effective by linking the applications to our facebook and main webpage,” said John Maile, event co-organizer.
Forty hunters moved into the Camp Ripley Training Area on the afternoon of December 2nd to occupy their individual stands in pre-arranged zones allowing freedom of space and safe, uninterrupted hunting areas for each person or team.
“It’s very different than hunting on public land,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matt Hanggi, of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion. “All day was quiet, peaceful and not crowded. Perfect day of hunting.”
Hanggi’s prize for the event was a 10 point 150 pound buck which he got early in the morning on December 3. “The friendly competition is fun in events like this. We are all like-minded people and we get to share that; just as we shared the experiences of the deployment,” Hanggi said.
The opportunity to hunt is a prized activity for most Minnesotans, but especially members of the Minnesota National Guard, said Spokesperson Maj. John Donovan.
“We believe that participation in events like this builds resiliency and helps a Service Member during his or her transition to life back home,” concluded Donovan.