A Hunt for A Hero

Date: February 3, 2013

Report By: Chris

Team Members: Chris, Craig

Weather Conditions: Sunny and clear, High in the 60’s low in the 50’s

Hunt With Our Heroes Banner from their Facebook Page

Last year, while browsing the Texas Hunting Forum, I came across a post by a man named Nathan Nelson offering a list of free hunts to veterans and servicemen. He was offering an Aoudad Ram, a Red Deer stag, two Whitetail Deer bucks, a Fallow Deer buck, and two Sika deer stags. The drawing was open to anybody serving or who had served in any branch of the military, policemen and firefighters.

I immediately thought of my older brother Tom, who is a member of the Houston Police Department. I entered his name in the drawing, thanked Nathan for what he is doing for our servicemen, and wished everyone good luck.

I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the prize. Tom is the best policeman I’ve met. I’m not just saying that because he’s my brother either. He works a rough shift in one of the worst neighborhoods in Houston. He sees some of the worst things that go on in our society on a daily basis that most of us won’t ever have to experience. He keeps a level head and a cheerful personality through it all.

One of my more proud moments of him came around Christmas in 2011. Tom responded to a burglary call. The victims of the crime were a single mother and her 5 year old son. The thieves had stolen all of the child’s Christmas gifts just a short time before Christmas. The mother had no money left for new presents. Tom and a few of his fellow officers pooled their money and bought the kid all new Christmas gifts. Tom isn’t one to boast about his achievements either. The only reason I found out about this is because it was in the Houston newspaper later that week! I’m very proud of him to say the least.

Back to the story, I’ve never won anything in my life, so I really wasn’t expecting to see Tom’s name on the list of winners. I never even told him that I entered his name, so I wouldn’t get his hopes up. About a month after I entered his name, there was a new post on the forum announcing the winners of the drawing. As I opened it up and read the list, my heart skipped a beat when I read that my brother had won the trophy Fallow deer hunt! Shortly after, I received an email from Nathan with the details. Everything was paid for, and I mean everything: the lodging, the hunt, the guide, the taxidermy, and the meat processing!

I was very excited to be able to call Tom and let him know that in 6 months he was going on an all-expense paid trophy fallow deer hunt. I think Tom thought I was joking at first. He was in shock and disbelief when I told him the details, but when he realized that it was real, he was pumped.

The next 6 months went by slowly as we anticipated the big day of the hunt. Over this time I got to learn more about Nathan Nelson and the organization he has been putting together. Nathan’s charity is called Hunt With Our Heroes. He built it from the ground up by taking servicemen on these hunts out of his own pocket. He is just now launching a Facebook page and Website where he will be able to start accepting donations. He puts together so many of these hunts that he is busy almost every weekend.

Unfortunately, when the time finally came around for our hunt, Nathan was unable to come along due to a personal situation. I was really looking forward to meeting the man that has given so much back to our heroes. Maybe we’ll be able to take him shark fishing sometime!

Tom Ballin with 2 pairs of sunglasses

Nathan gave Craig and me the green light to go along on Tom’s hunt to video tape and get pictures, so Tom, Craig, and I loaded up in the truck Saturday afternoon and made the drive North of Austin to the small town of Bertram. Somehow, we turned a 3 hour drive into a 5.5 hour drive. There is nothing like road-trippin’ with your brothers though. We arrived late in the evening, filled our bellies with some local Mexican food, and settled down at the Cedar Creek Inn. We sat on our porch for a few hours, talking, sipping on whiskey, and hoping about the next day’s hunt.

Cigars and whiskey will make anyone a little crazy

Hanging out with my brothers is my favorite thing in the world

We spent some time with another resident of the hotel named Monty Montana

When we finally laid down to sleep, it felt like our eyes had just shut by the time our alarm clocks were screeching at us to get up. Before we knew it, we were up, dressed, and had the car packed just as the guide was pulling up. Our guide was Jake from DB Hunting Ranch. He guides a lot of Nathan’s hero hunts, and he was a blast to hunt with.

Jake had a pretty cute Jack Russel puppy that came along for the hunt. He told us a story about how the puppy bayed up a water buffalo the week before!

Jake picked us up and we headed out to a ranch about 20 minutes away where there was a brute of a Fallow Deer. When we got to the ranch we were joined by another guide. The ranch was really beautiful. There was lots of hilly terrain covered with cedar trees. As we drove up, we spotted a few Black Buck Antelope, lots of Corsican Rams, and a couple donkeys.

Some of the animals and scenery from the ranch

The hunt was fast and furious from the moment we got on the ranch. We made about 3 different stalks once we located the fallow deer that we were after. He was with another Fallow buck that was nearly as big as he was. After a few failed stalking attempts, it was decided that we should let Tom go alone with the guide so they would have less of a chance of being spotted.

They held up behind a cedar tree and waited for the deer to pass by. Just like the guides expected, the 2 fallows came trotting out into the open. Tom centered the scope right where the guide told him to place the shot, squeezed the trigger and hit his mark. His 30.06 with a custom accubond load that our dad made did the trick. The deer ran about 30 yards and then folded up. Unfortunately, since we we’re able to come along on this stalk we didn’t get video of the shot, but we sure got plenty afterwards.

Craig, Jake and I went and met up with Tom and the other guide after they confirmed that the animal was down. We walked up to the biggest fallow I’ve ever seen in person. Tom had a smile on his face ear to ear and was excitedly thanking everyone for the opportunity.

Nice thick bases and great palms!

My favorite picture

Customary shirtless picture

Jake took great care of the animal. He gutted it right away and then we took it directly to the meat processor. Tom was still in shock that he didn’t owe the processor or taxidermist anything because Nathan had taken care of every aspect of the hunt. After shaking hands with Jake and thanking him for guiding the trip, we were back on the road to Houston.

I’ll always remember this special weekend as I’m sure Tom will also. I couldn’t think of anyone better to get a trip like this. The only thing that could have made the trip any better is if Nathan Nelson was able to come along. We were all looking forward to getting to know him.

He has inspired us to start giving a little back to the community also. Starting this year we are planning on launching a program to take servicemen on shark fishing trips. We can’t afford to give as much as Nathan has, but we hope that we can provide a good time, doing something that not a lot of people have tried, for some guys that have sacrificed a lot for us. We are hoping to do 4-5 of these trips in 2013 and see how it goes. If it goes well we are going to try to expand our program for 2014.

Once more I’d like to give a huge thank you to Mr. Nathan Nelson. Go like his Facebook page and keep an eye out for his upcoming website launch. He will have a place to make donations once his website is up and running. He is constantly giving away trips on Facebook to servicemen and the general public, so check it out!

http://www.facebook.com/huntwithourheroes

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Categories: deer hunting, exotic hunting, Hunting, outdoors, road trip, texas | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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