The Staurolite foundation just completed the last elk hunt of the 2014-15 season. While the number of elk harvested this year may not show success, I believe the camaraderie experienced, the time spent with others who have experienced the same things, and quite simply the time spent in the mountains was successful. We see the writer of Psalms 121 remind us that we find our help in the mountains “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?” There is something about spending time in the mountains that as one hunter stated, “ restores my soul.”
We had 3 young men with us for this hunt. Ronnie, CJ, and Bradley who all served in the Army. They each served several years, were deployed for long periods away from their families, and were injured in service to our country. What makes this hunt really special is the guides. This hunt is conducted on the Rio Costilla Cattle and Land Association property with tags donated by the RCCLA. The guides are all members of the RCCLA and served and were injured in military service during the Vietnam to Korea conflict era. We also had two men assisting with this hunt who served in the military, Dana was with us the entire hunt. Dana’s experience as an elk hunter, experience in the military, and strong Christian faith was a rich addition. James was able to come up and spend some time with the hunters and assist as well. James had some life and work issues that severally hindered the amount of time he had planned and hoped to spend with the hunters. However, it is difficult to put into words how powerful James’ sacrificial time was for one hunter. It seems that James and Bradley served together in Mosul on an 18 month deployment where they lost and had injured many of their brothers. Upon their return the Department of the Army changed some designations and young Bradley was going to be stationed far away from family – again. James served in a leadership role and assured young Bradley that he would get him transferred back near family, even after the Department of the Army had declared no transfers for 3 years. Well, you may have heard if you want something done in the military you find an experienced non-commissioned officer whose word is their bond and get them on it, well it seems to be true. Bradley had not seen James, who in Bradley’s words was the most important influence in his military carrier, until this past Sunday evening when James drove up. The sacrifice James made, not knowing why he was going – just going, to stay there less than 24 hours after driving more than 12 hours- was truly amazing.
I am always humbled spending time with these true American heroes – who always quickly correct me when I call them a hero. Men who walk on a prosthetic, have traumatic brain injuries, who ponder a lower leg amputation due to their injury and the lingering pain, yet these as all I have spent time with quickly say, “I would do it again.” What a challenge to me and to you, to get in the game and provide a high level of service and sacrifice.
While the elk harvest was not as high as we hoped, the hunt was hugely successful according to each of the men who participated. So for all of you that support the Staurolite foundation elk hunts for men and women who were wounded in military service to our country, your support paid off in a huge dividend for these men. On behalf of all of us, thank you for your prayer support, your donations, and your presence on these hunts. And Special thanks to Gerry & Alyssa, Nemi, Danny, and Steve for all their help.
In His service,
Michael T. Smith
the Staurolite foundation