First Annual Purple Heart 3D Shoot Fundraiser

I have no idea where to start. This event was incredible and id like to thank everyone who participated and made this event possible. Legends Ranch of Michigan for the venue and amazing hospitality. ServPro of NE Grand Rapids for donating over 1200 dollars in giveaway gear and handing out much needed waters at the event. Johnsons Great Outdoors of Montegue, Michigan for our first place prize and amazing pricing on the gear for our raffles. WaterDog Outfitters for the Kayak we are currently running a raffle on to help raise money for the purpose of this event (read below). Trigger time outfitters for the womens/childrens class place prizes. And thank you to all the volunteers, this event truly wouldn’t have gone so flawlessly with out all your help.

Saturday June 15th 8am, shooters and non shooters alike flooded into the ranch gates and our event began. with in 2 hours we had 15 shooters on our 25 target course mixed with whitetail, bear, cougar, and hog/small game targets. We also had 3 novelty shoots people could try their skills on to win some awesome gear. By 12p we had 25 shooters on the course and by 3pm they had finished up and headed to the museum to look at 100s of incredible mounted animals from all over the world. On top of all that their entry tickets included a free lunch and some fishing on the property’s lake.

We were able to crown the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners of the mens class and women/children classes with the amazing gear that was donated and then raffle off all the amazing items we had. After everyone enjoyed the event and festivities folks filtered out. The after party and dinner was next for the folks who bought tickets and the folks who rented the incredible rooms in the lodge. We all enjoyed an incredible dinner made by the lodges chef and then enjoyed drinks and games in the museum and was able to end the night with a nice fire. The ones who rented a room also enjoyed an incredible breakfast the following morning.

We are blessed to be working with Legends Ranch and to have the opportunity to have this event there. This event was to raise money for FLO to sponsor a Purple Heart Veteran to attend our educational program and get a hunt of a lifetime at Legends Ranch. Thank you all again who attended, we can’t wait for next year.

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FLO Weekend With Palisades Bowhunting of Kentucky

Well, after almost a year we are finally putting up a blog post from our FLO weekend with Palisades Bowhunting of Kentucky. Sorry for the tardiness.

We arrived in camp 30 October for a 5 day camp with an incredible Whitetail Outfitter in Kentucky, Palisades Bowhunting. We were welcomed with some great gear and an introduction of the property right away. As we got the lay of the land I knew it was going to be an epic week of hunting. We had two deserving veterans in camp and a raffle winner from the raffle we ran for 3 months prior to the hunt to help us be able to support the veterans in camp.

After the intros and getting familiar with the land we headed back to the lodge for some drinks and food along with some more “lay of the land'“ talk using OnX Maps, going over stands we will be sitting in. Once we figured out who was sitting where we were beyond excited for the first hunt the next morning.

Day 1 everyone seen deer with one hunter getting with in 80 yards of a great 160” Buck but he was locked on a doe and wasn’t leaving her. Although everyone seen deer an arrow was not loosed. Day 2 and 3 was about the same getting some decent bucks coming with in range but with Palisades 130” rule we had to let them live to grow up next year. Day 4 was great, seeing some great deer and they were definitely responding to some rattling and grunting, bringing in 3 bucks right to the foot of the tree but they needed another year or so. Palisades manages their farms with extreme care. The deer here are so unpressured it was a breath of fresh air being able to watch these deer act extremely naturally.

Evening of Day 5 our raffle winner arrowed an incredible 133” buck around 3pm. The shot was a bit high and although he had to leave that evening to head back to his 9-5 we were able to recover the buck on day 6 and get his cape and meat to him shortly after the trip. One of our Veteran guest was able to arrow a nice doe for some meat and our other veteran had to leave empty handed but not with out her first experience of seeing a trophy whitetail just outside of her shooting range, an experience she will not soon forget.

We are honored to be partnered with Palisades Bowhunting and we can not wait for 2019 FLO weekend with them. Stay tuned, I promise i wont wait 9 months to blog about our events again.

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Total Archery Challenge, Boyne Mountain, Michigan

What an incredible weekend!!! First off I would like to say it was an honor to spend the time we did with our sponsored individuals, Zach(heading into the Army in July), Brett(going through a Law Enforcement college program), and Duane(a Gulf War Veteran). The camaraderie and friendships made are priceless and I couldn't have imagined a greater weekend like this one. 

If you haven't heard of the TAC then you need to look them up. It was a weekend of 3 incredibly challenging but fun courses. From 26 yard shots all the way out to 126 yards with extreme angles this event will test all aspects of your archery skills. Friday we did the Sitka Course, this was a very difficult course to start with but we had a blast. Our guests shot well and it was great getting to rib each other on bad shots and celebrate on the good ones. Since Legends Ranch sponsored this event for us we were invited to take a tour of the Ranch and have dinner. When we got to the ranch where we were met by Robert who runs Legends and we were asked if we wanted to feed the fawns that they have due to their very successful breeding program, well we most certainly obliged. After Feeding around 150 fawns (this was an incredible once in a lifetime experience that no one will soon forget) we took the tour of the entire breeding facility and ranch itself. Legends Ranch gave us the opportunity to not only give our guests a great weekend of shooting with us but a chance to learn and experience a whole new world of whitetails and how these ranches run and operate. We look forward to a great educational future with Legends Ranch.

Saturday was the Prime Course and was just as difficult as the first course but with longer shots. If you head to our facebook page you can tune into the live video we did during a few shots. We were able to sit back and relax in the condo and get to know one another a bit more sharing stories and experience that our two young guests appreciated greatly. Had a lot of laughs and truly embraced the healing aspect of great company and camaraderie. 

Sunday we finished with the MTNOPS Course which was difficult but a bit more tame than the other two which was great since we were a bit exhausted. 

All in all this weekend was a great stepping stone for FLO and how we relate and help our veterans and first responders. We were able to network and get relationships with other possible sponsor that will further our Mission. We can't wait for the next one.

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Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School

Back in early December of 2017 Dalton Silverthorne (FLO Chairman) told me about a guide school he went through, completed and worked at for a stint of time. He told me about how the school accepted the GI Bill and/or Vocational Rehab for payment. Now in my experience with Military Benefits i felt it was hard to believe that my GI Bill would cover such a school. So I took it with a grain a salt and started my research. I found out that the school is not only state and nationally accredited but also VA (veteran affairs) approved. For anyone unfamiliar with this type of thing, it means that the benefits that an eligible veteran/active duty member have at their disposal are approving of this vocational school to include disabled veterans for vocational rehabilitation. 

I contacted Jeff Miner at COAGS and with in the 30 minutes of talking with him I had every bit of information needed to get started. Jeffs knowledge of not only how his school is ran but of VA and GI Bill surpassed my expectations of what I thought I could do with my GI Bill. I requested my letter of approval for school through my Ebenfits and when I contacted Jeff again to tell him i am sending the letter, he had already received it from the VA. So in a matter of a couple weeks (little slow on my part) my concerns of "how is the VA or GI Bill ever going to approve a school so awesome as this" were put to bed and I was ecstatic to start this outdoor adventure to better myself and Front Line Outdoors. 

I arrived at the airport in Grand Junction, CO late on a Sunday and with out a hitch I was picked up and taken to the Ranch. Was dark so it was hard to get my bearing and was waiting to see signs and such to say we are at Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School but all i seen was a long driveway with a sign saying "Hill Top House", I would soon learn why. I was put up in a nice quaint 3 man cabin and I settled in quickly to get some rest before breakfast at 8am sharp. I was greeted by Jeff at the house along with the other 10 students I was about to spend the next 7 weeks with. The atmosphere was light and was a great environment to be able to easily talk and quickly get to know everyone, so again my mind was set at ease. I struggle with new places and new people but the home like atmosphere with Jeff and Theresa Minor was more than welcoming. 

Jeff Minor went through introductions of what to expect and how he does things. He is a Veteran himself and although he did not spend a long time in the Army he is highly versed in veteran interactions and how the VA System works and how he can help Veterans find a new path in life. At first he will come off a bit blunt and brash but its something to admire and not chastise. He honors what our Vets have done for this country, past and present, and has a very effective way on how to help this sometimes struggling community, HARD HONEST WORK and giving a purpose. Jeff explained his motives and teaching abilities and how he isn't the "flashy type" commenting on how he doesn't really advertise with big signs and such. In my opinion he should have a sign or two up but thats his style and I would soon learn I'd admire that about him.

I don't want to give away too much of what each course involves, I feel like it takes away of some of the adventure. I will say the Basic is a great intro to the operations of what a guide should be. Getting with the horses and such. Pro Course is a great two weeks going deeper into all duties of what an Outfitter Operation will have and helps you be well versed in each area. I can say for me I learned a lot. I feel if you go into this school with a "i know everything" attitude you will not get out what you should be getting out of the courses. I loved the constant interaction with Jeff and other staff members, when question were asked it was answered to all its aspects. Discussions of different things, I loved. I asked a lot of questions and started a lot of heated discussion, the knowledge Jeff and his Staff have is incredible and that allowed us to have great outcomes of each discussion with both or all parties learning something new each time. Jeff is not only knowledgeable but is a constant sponge, ready and willing to learn new things. So even at the young age of........early 50s and doing this work for over 25 years he still has a deep passion to pass on his knowledge to new and willing people. 

In conclusion, I can say I left COAGS with some incredible knowledge of the outfitting industry and a sense of purpose again. It opened my eyes to more of just what I have exposed myself to which was very limited. I gained some great new friends and new life experiences. The mountainous terrain is something I have never experienced and now I can't wait to see it again. I would like to mention that class is from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, well it was turkey season. I did not get to harvest my first Merriam Tom but I got to hunt some country that was insanely gorgeous and I got to be a part of some successful hunts as well. So when you look into going to this school, remember just because you are at a school doesn't mean you can't get out and experience your surroundings. I logged over 25 miles of mountainous hiking, caught over 100 trout on a fly rod (first time fly fishing), and was able to find my first ever Elk Shed. 

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SUCCESS!!!!!!

We are proud to say that our first event was a huge success. A huge thank you to all of our sponsors for the incredible support and everyone who came out to Powers Brewery to help us conclude the Event. We were able to not only raise much needed funds but make great friends and contacts. 

Daren, our honored guest, was able to successfully harvest his very first Turkey on the first day of the Virginia Turkeys Season Opener. We met Daren through a close friend of mine in the VFW and Daren was suggested to us for this event for his amazing sacrifice he makes daily as a First Responder. Darens sacrifices and schedule prevents him to get out in the woods and harness the healing power that we here at FLO help provide to that of the lives we influence.  We were proud to have him and get to know him and his family. 

To prepare for this event to be successful the FLO crew worked tirelessly to set up the hunting areas, venue, and coordinate with sponsors to make sure Daren got the best experience possible. Thursday the crew arrived at Wess' house (Exec Chairman) and the collaboration began with an evening scout of the properties. After seeing the areas we created a plan to scout for roosted birds in the morning, on Friday. Friday morning was a success with successfully pinpointing 4 birds in the first property so we had great confidence in the ability to get Daren on a good Tom. Friday afternoon consisted of the crew and Daren to meet. We had a great time getting to know Daren and his family along with shooting and grouping the shotgun FLO provided to him for the hunt. During the pre hunt get-together we went over the game plan using On-X Hunt site to go over the property and where we will set up.

The FLO crew and Daren were set up on the pasture at 545 AM Saturday Morning and by 6AM we had three Toms Gobbling. We sat there anticipating where a Tom would come out and about 645 we spot two hens and a great Tom on the other side of a wooded finger about 100 yards away. The hens moved around the tip of the finger and moved into our field at 100 yards ahead of us and the Tom followed. As Steve (FLO Chairman) worked this Tom with incredible calling, this Tom spotted our decoys and made a straight line towards us. with in 10 minutes of seeing this Tom in our field we had him fighting our Jake Decoy, and he was tearing it up. Daren was ready and waiting for his shot and when it came he let the BB's fly. Unfortunately the Tom made a quick move to spur our decoy and the shot missed the head and hit the Toms chest shooting off 2/3s of the beard, Daren didn't hesitate and made an incredible second shot when the Tom ran to our left and slowed down near the Jake Fan. Daren had a smile from ear to ear and we were all incredibly proud of him, he had just got his first Turkey. The Tom weighed in at 22lbs, 9 1/2" Beard, and 1 1/4' spurs a very respectable first ever turkey. 

Our Event concluded on Sunday at Powers Brewery in Midland, VA. We presented Daren with gear from our sponsors (see pictures or go to our Facebook Page) and presented him the American Flag from Annin Flagmakers that we carried with us during our hunt, a tradition Military and first responders have carrying a flag with us during missions and patrols. We had a great time meeting new supporters and honoring our first ever guest for our programs to heal through the outdoors. 

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Turkey Hunt Fundraiser

Our fundraiser will help conclude our first give-away hunt, gifted to a disabled veteran that will have been taken out to hunt opening spring turkey-weekend. This event will feature beer/meal ticket options, door prizes, raffles, give-aways, and a chance to build a relationship with our Foundation that is here to make a difference in our veteran and first responder community. Please go to the link below to our Facebook link and check it out.