Waupun supports veterans, families through Heroes’ Hunt
WAUPUN — A family that supports the Waupun-based Heroes’ Hunt for Veterans recently visited the hunting camp they established in memory of a fallen soldier.
Founded in 2013 by Brian Ball and a small group of people in the Waupun area, Heroes’ Hunt for Veterans provides shelter, guides, rides, food and hunting licenses for approximately 40 veterans they take on local hunts every year.
“It has grown into quite the success story as we draw veterans from all across the country to come to Waupun to hunt,” said Heroes’ Hunt secretary and guide Dave Vogel.
About four years ago, a deer camp was established with funds from Larry and Sharon Mueller, parents of Sgt. Nickolas Mueller, a special forces soldier who died in Afghanistan on Oct. 26, 2009.
Camp Nickolas offers hunters the chance to stay in a heated 18x12-foot tent with beds and lockers.
“I enjoy coming to Camp Nickolas,” Larry Mueller said when he and his wife visited Nov. 10.
“When talking to the vets and the active military that are there to enjoy the outdoors, we talk about Nick and it always brings them around to talking about the people they know and love that have either been K.I.A. or died of other causes,” he said. “To remember and tell their stories is always something near and dear to my heart.”
There were three Marines bow hunting that weekend, with two staying in the tent at Camp Nickolas and the other staying at AmericInn in Waupun, which provides rooms at no cost for those invited to Heroes’ Hunt.
Veteran Garfield Davis said it was his first hunt.
“It’s humbling to have the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the family of Nickolas Mueller,” Davis said. “As a veteran, it’s nice to be remembered.”
Sharon Mueller said, “As we gathered today to have lunch with the veterans, look at military photos and shared stories, it warmed our hearts to see what Camp Nickolas means to all the veterans that come here to hunt and talk among each other over a warm meal. Our Nick will never be forgotten.”
Jon Kosciuszko, who retired from the Marines and is now living in Alabama, said it was his first hunt here.
“It’s amazing to see a community behind an organization that helps vets,” he said. “The support they give the organization is wonderful.”
In all, more than 50 businesses and organizations support Heroes’ Hunt for Veterans, providing financial support, free meals, lodging, hunting guides and butchering and packaging the meat.
Although the three hunters did not bag a deer on the Nov. 10 weekend, they left with warm hearts.
“This is awesome,” said Gunnery Sgt. Mikey Roman, a Marine stationed in San Diego. “This is a phenomenal experience for sure.”
For Vogel, the experience was just as rewarding.
“To say that it was an emotional day is an understatement,” he said. “It’s times like this that make all the hard work and time put in to Heroes’ Hunt for Veterans all worthwhile.”