Andrew Clatt and his son, Michael, woke up well before sunrise Saturday morning to take part in a dove hunt sponsored by Kitty Fork Outdoors — Hunting with Heroes.
The first annual dove hunt was for military veterans and their kids and started by Jeff Jones and Brandon Holland as a way to give back. Kitty Fork Outdoors is a place both Jones and Holland use as a way to do the things they love. They wanted to share those experiences with the veterans.
“We are able to do all kinds of hunting and shooting activities, but there are those that are not as fortunate as we are,” Jones explained. “The military men and women and their families have sacrificed so much for this country and they often don’t get told enough how grateful we are for what they have done.”
Jones and Holland have toyed with the idea of something like Kitty Fork Outdoors and Hunting with Heroes for several years. It has been their goal to give veterans and their kids an opportunity to get outside and enjoy a great hunting experience together.
Jones said his father-in-law, Ronnie Jordan, passed away in 2008 and left 50 acres of land he and his family currently live on.
“He always loved to give back to people,” Jones explained. “He was a rodeo cowboy and put on steer wrestling clinics at his farm here in Kitty Fork. He loved helping people excel in a sport he was passionate about.”
Clatt, who is originally from Michigan, but is currently stationed in Camp Lejune, said he and his son have been on similar hunting experiences before, but nothing like what Jones and Holland provided.
“They have shuttled us to good hunting spots, brought us additional ammo if we needed it, and kept a cold drink and snack in our hands,” Clatt shared. “Most of them time, these experiences only give you the land to hunt on, and nothing else.”
Saturday was a little extra special for Clatt and his son. Michael was able to shoot birds for the first time, using the same shotgun his father did as a boy, and his grandfather, too.
“These are memories we will always share together,” Clatt explained. “It truly touches me what they are doing here. Both Jeff and Brandon are selfless and it’s nice to see that civilians care about the military.”
To prepare for Saturday’s hunt, Jones said they planted six acres of land with corn and millet and installed some fake power lines to entice the doves to land.
“We have worked hard on preparing the land for many months to grow and harvest the corn,” Jones said. “We will also use the picked corn for our future deer hunts. We hope to grow more crops for other wildlife in the future, such as wild turkeys.”
Jones and Holland say they want to continue working to give the veterans their families fun and exciting experiences.
“We have been so blessed with this opportunity to give back to our military veterans and their families,” Jones said.
Jones and Holland had nearly a dozen men and kids hunting with them, and hope the number will grow at the next hunt.
Sponsors for Saturday’s hunt were sheriff Jimmy Thornton, Jordan and Hope, Mark Edwards Electrical Service, Southern Pride Electrical, BB&T Bank and Cliff Simmons.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.