Let there be no doubt that Whitetails Unlimited supports the Second Amendment.
The organization strives to share the passion of outdoor sports, recreation and conservation with others. The Elkhorn Valley chapter and the 400 people who attended the Friday night banquet at Divots in Norfolk are no different.
Saul Soltero, the organization’s regional director, said conservation, youth and veterans are some of the main priorities when it comes to donating the money raised from events like this.
The organization works with any group that deals with hunting and harvesting and doing it correctly.
“We certainly do a lot of work with kids groups, shooting sports at any age. We support many of the hunter safety classes, the bow safety classes,” Soltero said. “We do a certain amount of work with conservation itself with food plots and the management of deer.”
In turn, conservation helps enhance the environment and wildlife.
“So many things are getting torn up. This helps a lot of different wildlife especially,” said Scott Magnussen, banquet chairman. “A lot a time and effort is needed to put on an event like this going out into the community and talking about what the organization does with the money raised.”
But it’s not just shooting sports that benefit; recreational sports do, too, Magnussen said, as the money donated will go to youth programs and sports.
Every child at the event went home with a survival kit. It had binoculars, a flashlight and a swiss army knife. Also, the children were entered into a drawing for six lifetime hunt permits, six BB guns and two .22 rifles.
Friday night featured several drawings just for veterans, with a “veteran of the night” drawing for a Mossberg Patriot and a special giveaway for the oldest veteran in the room. Friday night had two 72-year-old vets — Jim Pryor, U.S. Army, and Eldred Laubsch, U.S. Air Force — who each won a gun.
Soltero said hunters tend to migrate toward one another, and there’s a camaraderie between them. They talk about hunting, share stories and show off trail camera pictures, just to name a few sources of their pride and joy.
Magnussen, for one, enjoys hunting because it was passed down from his father and he passed it down to his son. It’s a tradition.
Soltero said his favorite thing to do is to take someone on their first hunt.
“I was fortunate enough to take Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. hunting for the first time for a deer, and I was there when Tommy shot his first deer,” he said. “I’ll never forget because Tommy has stared down some of the biggest, fiercest linemen in the country, but he was shaking like a leaf when that deer came out. He shot the deer, and he did a great job, and Tommy is now an avid deer hunter.”
An event like this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community, the vendors who donate items, the people who attend and volunteers like the Northeast Community College baseball team.
Wahoo Locker supplied samples of its jerky, summer sausage, snack sticks and brats. Wahoo Locker supports Hunters Helping the Hungry, which works with hunters who want to donate their deer meat. The hunter pays nothing. Wahoo Locker donated about 1,200 pounds to the program last year.
A veterans program that Whitetails Unlimited supports is Fallen Outdoors. Retired Navy Cmdr. Hunter Haltom is the executive officer of the program and is also part of Soltero’s team. Fallen Outdoors is a nationwide group that helps veterans and current military personnel reconnect with the outdoors by going hunting and fishing.
Mossy Oak Properties of Creighton was at the banquet to let people know about recreational properties for sale. Mossy Oak supports several youth programs in the area, along with Pheasants Forever and other hunting organizations.
A veteran-owned custom rifle business donated guns for the event. Kenny Winn, retired military, is the president and CEO of the company. Along with donating guns, his company also donated a long-range precision class, and Winn “guarantees you hit out to 800 yards during your first class or we bring you back to try again at no cost.”