ROCKVILLE – The historic Olean Trail has traversed Western Pennsylvania since the days when it was a corridor for travel by Native Americans of the region. Recently, at the intersection of that ancient pathway and Delp Road, history was made by Chapter 630 of North Central Pennsylvania Pheasants Forever.
The volunteer organization, which supports activities and education about shooting sports, sponsored, organized and presented its first “Veterans Hunt,” providing a special opportunity to harvest pheasants and chukars or ducks.
Requesting only that interested veterans of any age, ability, regardless of physical handicap, register in advance, Chapter 630 had requests from 113 veterans for 100 spaces over a two-day period. From that initial sign-up, it had been decided that priority would be given to the oldest veterans first.
As time neared for confirmation of their attendance, 82 of those who had served in the U.S. Armed Forces planned to participate in the event held at John Delp’s Hunting Grounds in Rockville.
Scheduled with two or three hunters per group, with transportation provided by motorized wagon or UTV, the men gathered at the sign-in station for a brief safety review and the Pledge of Allegiance.
No license was required, but the veterans were requested to provide their own blaze orange safety clothing as required by law.
Thanks to a long list of sponsoring organizations and individuals, plus Chapter 630’s own fund-raising, firearms (if needed), ammunition, transportation, dogs, dog handlers, food, prizes and souvenirs were provided free of charge as a “thank you” to those who have served the nation.
For a 92-year-old World War II Veteran, who hunted from a specially designed duck blind, the thrill of harvesting three ducks was priceless in the words of the volunteer who accompanied him.
Each participant received a Certificate of Merit from U.S. Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson and a Pheasants Forever pin and hat offered with special words and a warm handshake.
Dick Bodenhorn is president of Chapter 630 with Tim Rowan serving as youth and veterans activities chairman. They, along with member Larry Haag, emphasized that “there is no condition we don’t accommodate.”
Jared Shaffer, one of the several dog handlers who brought their well-trained animals to aid in the hunt, said that the dogs are very enthusiastic and work hard during the hunts. Time afield for the dogs is spaced out to allow them to rest in between hunts.
A warm, rustic log cabin lodge provided a place for respite, conversation and an abundance of food for all to enjoy.
Looking forward already to a repeat event next year, members of Chapter 630 asked their honored guests for comments and suggestions to improve the experience for the next time.
Further information about Chapter 630, their youth hunts and other activities, is available at www.northcentralpapf.org or on Facebook.