Teaching Youth and Serving Wounded Warriors--It's How Wally Davis is Spending his Retirement Years
If we don't teach the younger generation, who will? Teaching the art of hunting to others is a time-honored way of giving back to the sport and a cause that will help ensure the tradition is not lost to future generations.
The volunteer experience runs deep in the heart of Florida. Our Dream Sporting Trips writer recently had the opportunity to talk to such a dedicated volunteer, Wally Davis, of Madison, Florida.
Born on a farm in Madison County, Florida, and having lived in the area all of his life, Mr. Davis spends most of his time volunteering for the many causes that are important to him. One of those passions has led him to become a friend and mentor to many of the disadvantaged youth in the area.
Wally began following his uncle hunting when he was about 8-9 years old. He got his first shotgun for Christmas when he was 12.
The only hunts he does now are Spring turkey hunts, and he's likely taking a local youth with him when he goes (usually by request of a parent or teacher) as he good-naturedly passes along the legacy and fun of hunting. “Our youth are the future of the world. They often discover,” he says with a chuckle, "that being outdoors is more fun than playing video games or spending time on the computer."
In addition to his memories of favorite hunting trips with local youth, Wally recounts another hunt that was particularly special.
Thank you, Mr. Davis, for taking time to talk to us today. Having been on so many hunts in your lifetime, is there a particular one which stands out in your mind?
The most touching hunt I ever participated in was one that the Florida NWTF and others and I organized here in Madison County in 2009--the Wounded Warrior Dove Hunt.
We invited all the local wounded warriors who wanted, to come and enjoy a day of skeet shooting and dove hunting with us. We furnished everything; all they had to do was to bring themselves. Seventeen wounded warriors took us up on the offer. They represented every branch of the service--Some had visible injuries--wounds and missing limbs. The majority were men, but there was also a 32-year-old woman who had served four tours in Iraq. Some of these brave men and women were in wheelchairs, others had difficulty walking. We set up blinds in the fields to accommodate wheelchairs and every other need these hunters had.
We sat around, talked, reminisced, and listened to any who wanted to talk about their personal stories and what they loved about hunting and outdoors.
We began the hunting event by shooting skeet, clay targets, going to the fields afterward for an afternoon of dove hunting. Each hunter had an adult with him/her to help with anything they might need. It was nearly dark when we quit.
We wrapped up the day with another get-together and to this day, the event remains one of my favorite memories ever.
"Veterans Day is once a year," Wally said, "but I like to think of every day as Veterans Day. I didn’t serve in the Armed Forces because I had a heart murmur, but I know full well it could have been me in their place."
That sounds like a very special day, indeed. Thank you for sharing that. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers before you go?
Two things: (1) NWTF is a wonderful organization and is now thethe
Mr. Bud Leonard]
In addition to Wounded Warrior projects, the NWTF offers a great outreach program for children called JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship), women’s programs, and programs for handicapped sportsmen. "For anyone looking for a great volunteer opportunity, the NWTF is a fine organization."
A few facts about NWTF Florida branch whose motto is "Conserve, Hunt, Share":
- NWTF FLORIDA WILL CREATE 10,000 HUNTERS IN THE STATE OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS.
- NWTF FLORIDA WILL CONSERVE OR ENHANCE 600,000 ACRES OF WILDLIFE HABITAT IN THE NEXT DECADE.
- NWTF FLORIDA WILL OPEN 90,000 ACRES OF HUNTING ACCESS IN THE NEXT DECADE.