KSL Outdoors: Freedom Isn’t Free Vet Hunts

(Shawn) Yeah Wes over there, Mark and Ken here and Lewis over there. (shawn) ok, we’ll figure this out. I’ve got to get decoys out!

It’s a beautiful, albeit cold Utah morning when we met the guys behind a Texas based organization called Freedom Isn’t Free Veteran Hunts.

(Mark Ballard, Freedom Isn’t Free Veteran Hunts) We’ve done everything from whitetail hunts, to pheasant hunts, to quail hunts to dove hunts, fishing trips. We do a lot of exotic hunts and hog hunts in Texas and South Texas and.

(Mark Ballard) This is probably one of our funniest hunts we do ever year. To get to come here and duck hunt, especially this place. This is like the mecca.

(Mark) Wow! (nats calling) (mark) come on baby. (nats calling)

(Mark) look at that! Are they coming? (?) yeah right here, look at this big ol’ flight coming in. (mark) good night.

We’re hunting a piece of property leased by local taxidermist Shawn Shaw. It is loaded with waterfowl, from divers to puddle ducks.

(nats calling) Hold on, hold on. Now! (shots) really you couldn’t get it in the water! (laughs)

(Mark off cam) Here we go, here we go. (shawn) well there’s two decoys. Hit him! Hit him! (shot really close on water) there you got him.

This is Shawn Shaw, he’s been donating his time, money, this land and even the taxidermy work on over 140 mounts for the vets who go on these hunts.

(Shaw Shaw, Oquirrh Hills Taxidermy) What Freedom isn’t Free is about is vets who have served our country. There isn’t a lot out there for them that say thanks for everything you’ve done, unless you’ve been wounded.

(Shawn Shaw) and that’s what we try and do is bring all these guys out and say thanks for what you do for our country, we couldn’t do it without you.

(Mark Ballard) It takes a lot for somebody to give up hopes, dreams, aspirations to say I do. I thought those guys are my heros. Not because I served but them guys keep us all safe. Give us all the opportunity to hunt or do whatever it is we do. So that blanket of freedom for me and my friends is really important. Especially for my generation, those Vietnam guys, we hear stories all the time and we are grown men and it put tears in our eyes, lumps in your throat. So for me I own them guys a thanks.

In just five years, Freedom isn’t Free has taken two hundred and fourteen people on hunts. Most are vets, some are family of fallen vets.

(mark) We take those folks too, that’s pretty important.

(Mark) and we started a website and man we’ve probably got a three year waiting list. (adam) wow, a lot of deserving guys out there. (mark) oh man, you know you never can say enough.

How fitting was it, that the man behind these hunts.

(Adam) get them, get them. shoot!

Was able to do accomplish something he has always wanted to do…

(Shawn) come on guys. (shots) (adam) yelling) oh got them both.

(shawn) he’s been out here two years trying to kill a goose. That’s embarrassing man, come on.

Mark was in the Army it wasn’t his first goose. (laughs) (adam) he’s been goosed plenty. Been lonely out in the field. () well you know I don’t know what goes on out there with those Army guys. (laughs) but I’m sure it’s not his first goose.

(adam) I was going to say the shooting wasn’t that great today and then Mark goes off and pulls off his first goose. (shawn) it ran into his bullets, that’s all I can say. All he’s wanted is a goose, so great way to end it. (adam) tomorrow more vets? Different vets? (shawn) Different vets, local vets coming out of the Tooele area, all these came in from out of town and we are here. (adam) alright, more vets, more hunting here coming here in just a moment, but first lets check out this weeks Burt Brothers quiz question.

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