Our 2023 Dream Hunt recipient, Zach just finished up a successful hunt. Zach is the young man from Iowa that we awarded a hunt to beautiful Champion Ranch in central Texas where he was provided the opportunity to hunt a variety of game. Zach spent most of the hunt in pursuit of Texas whitetail, but things took a turn when he was provided the opportunity to harvest a Texas Dall Sheep ram on the last hunt of the last day. Zach was very excited with his trophy.
Zach is pictured here with his trophy ram along with Heartland DSC Board Member, Jerry Avis, and his mentor, Craig. While Zach had a mobility chair with him on the hunt, we would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to Champion Ranch for working closely with Zach to put him in the best possible hunting situations that resulted in a successful hunt.
Published – December 2023
Heartland DSC has partnered with Nebraska Game and Parks in support of their On Track Program by making our all-terrain mobility chair available to them on a permanent basis. The On Track program is designed to provide people with limited mobility the ability to hunt, fish, view nature, and enjoy the outdoors in all types of terrain.
Heartland DSC mobility chair will be permanently available at a Nebraska State Park to allow visitors the ability to explore parks in new ways by accessing areas that may not be suitable for regular wheelchairs. The chair will also be available at a variety of events, park programs, mentored hunts, shooting ranges, and other educational and recreational activities across Nebraska.
Heartland DSC presented the chair to Nebraska Game and Parks during the 18th Annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo held at Ponca State Park on September 16-17, 2023.
Heartland DSC’s chair is the fourth chair in the program and the goal is to have eight chairs available for use throughout Nebraska.
Published October 2023
Heartland DSC is proud to sponsor outdoor equipment for the new Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Complex in Kearney, Nebraska opening in August of 2023. The complex is a family-friendly shooting sports complex with a focus on safety and family fun. The 134-acre facility on 60 recreational acres features four trap fields with two overlaying skeet fields and one 5-stand range. The rentable education center is 2,900-square-foot, American with Disabilities Act-accessible, offers classroom seating for up to 100 people and includes a full kitchen. Archery and interactive educational activities are also available.
Our sponsorship assists with providing the necessary equipment that will allow youth to get outdoors to enjoy and experience outdoor activities.
The facility is located at 10945 Poole Avenue, northeast of Kearney, Nebraska.
Published August 2023
Heartland DSC sponsored Nebraska Walleye Association’s Fishing is Fun Special Needs Clinic for kids at Holmes Park in Lincoln on August 12, 2023. During the event kids learned about casting, knot tying, and fish identification. Each kid was given fishing gear to keep, and provided the opportunity to do some fishing.
The clinic was also attended by parents wanting to learn about fishing as much as the kids do. We know these clinics have been successful because those same parents tell us thank you later in the summer and tell us about the great experience they had fishing with their kids. Another example of success is when we see the kids around the local pond using the fishing poles they received after completing a fishing clinic.
In addition to financial support for this great event, Heartland DSC representatives were on hand to help out.
Published August 2023
Ivy is a young girl from Florida that requires a wheelchair for mobility. She comes from a family that enjoys the outdoors while fishing, hunting, camping or going to the beach. A traditional wheelchair did not provide access to many of the areas her family wished to take her along.
Her mother reached out to Heartland DSC to share Ivy’s story after reading an article in Dallas Safari Club’s Game Trails magazine about a New Mexico elk hunt we had taken a young man from Nebraska on utilizing an all-terrain mobility chair. After hearing Ivy’s story, we knew that she was the perfect candidate for a mobility chair and went to work to acquire one for her. With the generous support of our donors and supporters we were able to raise the funds to provide Ivy with her own chair.
On Mother’s Day weekend 2023 we surprised Ivy with her very own NuMotion Mobility Chair. Ivy’s mother has stated, “This chair will change Ivy’s life providing her freedom she has never experienced and the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities with family and friends”.
Published April 2023
The following is the story of our 2022 Dream Hunt written by the recipient in his own words.
Hi, my name is Caine. I am 14 years old. I enjoy a lot of things like watching Star Wars or building with Legos. I was born with a Lymphatic Vascular Malformation. It is a rare disease that has also caused other issues with my body, such as a bleeding disorder and lymphedema in my left leg. I was diagnosed at 4 years old, and I have had almost 100 surgeries since then. At age eleven, I broke my hip and the doctor said I would not walk again. I really wanted to learn to walk so I could go hunting with my Dad when I turned twelve. It took almost two years, but I can now walk!
We moved to Iowa for my dad’s job, and he started looking for a place to go hunting. That is how he got in touch with Heartland DSC. They worked with my Dad to plan a hunting trip that I could participate in.
My dad and I rode with Pat from Heartland DSC to Texas to start the trip. There was one funny moment on the way to Texas that I’ll always remember. A bee flew into my dad’s face. My dad said, “What the?! Get out of here bee!”. It was hilarious.
While we were in Texas, we hunted on a ranch a little bit from town. The ranch owner’s wife made us 3 meals every day. We had frog legs, alligator tail, and so much more delicious food. It was really fun to eat dinner while we all talked.
Pat also brought an Action Trackchair to the ranch. It looks like a wheelchair, but it is like a wheelchair crossed with a tank! It was super fun to ride around in. It really helps keep my lymphedema from swelling, because it’s difficult for me to walk long distances on my leg.
At the start of the first hunting day, we woke up and got in the Ranger. We drove to a hunting blind and waited for a deer. We did this for 2 days. On the third day, an 8-point whitetail buck appeared. I had to get ready to shoot without making too much noise. I shot the buck. It kicked its legs and collapsed. I killed my first deer. I was shaking so hard, mostly from excitement. We then packed the buck into the back of the Ranger to go do some field dressing.
After I shot the buck, it was very intense. I didn’t know if it went down, or if it didn’t. It was very relieving to know that it went down without suffering. I was proud of myself during that experience. It was something I’ve wanted to attempt for a while, but I didn’t think it was something I could physically achieve.
Over the next few days, I was able to shoot two more deer. One was a doe and the other a Mule Deer. I was more confident when I shot them after the first experience, and it was just as exciting as the first deer. It was really cool to see each of the deer up close.
This was the best trip I’ve ever been on. I will always remember getting my very first deer. I want to thank John Eason, Pat, and everyone at Heartland DSC for their hospitality. Going on this hunting trip was an experience I’ll never forget. I also want to thank Rhonda Eason for her delicious food, and Pat’s wife for making me and my Dad sandwiches for the ride home. That really meant a lot to me.
Published December 2022
Heartland DSC conducts Hunter Education courses annually to certify new hunters so that they can participate in hunting. These courses cover important topics such as familiarity with firearms, safe gun handling practices, wildlife conservation, hunter responsibilities and ethics, personal preparedness, hunting opportunities, tree stand safety, and specialty hunting.
Students that successfully complete the course are provided the opportunity to attend a live fire clinic where Heartland DSC representatives work with them to shoot trap. For many of them, this is a first time experience.
As of September 2022, Heartland DSC has certified 270 kids for Hunter Education.
Published September 2022
While a high school senior in Atlantic, Iowa during the fall of 2020, Steele was waterfowl hunting with a group of friends. During the hunt the weather turned bad and the boys decided to head home. Steele rode in the back of a pickup to keep their gear from flying out. Somehow, during the trip Steel fell from the truck and hit his head on the road suffering a severe head injury.
First responders attempted to get a medical helicopter on the scene, but couldn’t due to the snowstorm. An ambulance rushed Steele the 60 mile trip to the Nebraska Medical Trauma Center in Omaha, Nebraska in critical condition where he underwent surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma. Steele would not leave the hospital for five months after the accident.
Upon his return home, there was an outpouring of community support from his hometown of Atlantic, Iowa with the motto “Strong as Steele” prevalent throughout the town of 6,577 people.
Heartland DSC, the Iowa/Nebraska chapter of Dallas Safari Club has an ongoing program of taking youth that face life altering situations on a Dream Hunt each year. When Heartland DSC became aware of Steele’s situation, he was identified as the perfect candidate for the next Dream Hunt. Working in cooperation with Gunwerks, the NRA Whittington Center, and Dallas Safari Club Steele was notified that he was the recipient of a hunt to be held at the Whittington Center in New Mexico during January of 2022. Steele would also be shooting the latest rifle provided by Gunwerks during the hunt. Steele was accompanied by his father, his uncle, a Heartland DSC representative, and the Gunwerks Training Instructor during the hunt.
Growing up in Iowa, Steele had experienced whitetail deer hunting with a bow, but a western US mule deer hunt with a rifle was going to be a new experience for him. While meeting with Steele and his family to plan the trip a few months in advance, Steele was very excited, but slightly hesitant about his ability to accurately shoot a rifle.
Upon arrival at the Whittington Center, Ian Miner, Training Instructor for Gunwerks, worked with Steele to familiarize him with the rifle and shooting techniques. After some time indoors for instruction, Ian took him to the range and it wasn’t long before he had Steele repeatedly and confidently hitting targets up to 300 yards.
During the first morning of the hunt the group headed to the high country in pursuit of a mule deer. In the early morning they came upon a small herd of elk in a river bottom that had been frequented by a nice mule deer buck according to the Whittington Center guides, but he was nowhere to be seen. Heading higher into the backcountry, fog settled in and visibility was greatly reduced. While a recent snow in the higher elevations should have made for perfect glassing conditions, the fog made it difficult, and it was determined that the group would head back down to lower elevations to continue the hunt.
Not long after reaching the lower elevations some smaller bucks were located, but none of the trophy quality the group hoped to find for Steele. Then, during the late morning while glassing from a ridge a very nice buck was spotted bedded down under a pine tree. However, the buck was much too far for Steele to confidently take a shot from the vantage point he was spotted. The guides determined that the only opportunity was to see if they could work Steele, along with Ian Miner, down the ridge from a different angle and attempt to close the distance for a better shot. The group worked their way closer to the trophy buck, but could only get within about 300 yards by crawling under some pine trees. Steele was set up prone under a pine tree to attempt to take the bedded deer. The shot proved to be very difficult and it was a clean miss high over the back of the deer. While the deer ran off after the shot, it was thought he likely stayed in the area so Steele was set up on a hillside ahead of the direction in which the deer ran and the guides and other party members attempted to push the deer towards him. The deer was not to be seen again.
Once again in the early afternoon, a number of smaller bucks were located but none of them were the right one. Then as the afternoon wore on and the day was coming to a close, a group of deer were spotted in a small valley. The group contained many does and some small bucks. As the group was watched for a considerable amount of time, a majestic trophy buck appeared from the trees and joined the group. Steele was definitely looking at the mule deer of his dreams.
The guides set Steele up on shooting sticks with Ian Miner at his side approximately 100 yards from the group. There were so many deer in the tight group that there was concern about being able to hit only the deer Steele was shooting at and he had to wait for a clear shot. As time went by, excitement rose, and then finally, the trophy buck stood clear of the group. With a single shot, Steele dropped the deer. His dream had been fulfilled.
Everyone involved was thrilled to provide such an exciting adventure for a young man that has faced challenges most of us will never experience. Heartland DSC has also made arrangements to have Steele’s trophy mounted so that he will have a lasting memory of the experience. Since the time of the hunt, Steele has continued to make progress in his recovery, returning to finish his senior year of high school and recently attending his senior prom.
Published January 2022