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Quality Deer Management Association ~ Black Belt Branch Spends a day in the field with our military

This past week, the Black Belt Branch of QDMA spent a day with some of our military men and their children on a pheasant shoot at Great Southern Outdoors in Union Springs, Alabama. "As the president of the Black Belt Branch, I am honored to show our love and respect to those who sacrifice so much for our freedom and safety!" said, Mike O'Malley branch president. "Our board of directors works diligently throughout the year to generate opportunities for our members to give back to our communities. This is just one way for us to share our love for the outdoors and encourage another generation to enjoy conservation and outdoor activities thanks to our corporate sponsors like ASE Credit Union."

The day began with some sausage biscuits, coffee and fellowship. Following breakfast, the group gathered for a thirty minute safety meeting, prayer and instruction how the day's festivities would flow. Next, the group went afield in their hunter orange and shared two and a half hours of pheasant shooting with smiling kids of all ages and spending valuable time with their fathers and friends. Immediately following the shoot, all the hunters and QDMA board members met back at Great Southern for a hearty chicken lunch with all the fixings! Besides a fun day with great food, each participant was able to take home multiple pheasant, cleaned and ready for the grill to share with their families back home.

"We have been fortunate with our annual fundraising event (a $10,000 drawdown, auction, raffle banquet in October each year) to amass enough funds to look for ways to promote our sport, the importance of proper wildlife habitat management and make it economical for our participants. This year's event was free for our military and I look forward to making next year's pheasant shoot bigger and better!" O'Malley said. The Black Belt Branch is only in its second year and is looking for more members and corporate sponsors like ASE Credit Union. "If it wasn't for local businesses like, ASE Credit Union, we couldn't pull this off. We can supply the labor, but we need the gracious financial support of our sponsors!"

As the morning progressed, the board members were greeted with smiles and laughter as they drove around the field picking up harvested birds and passing out ice cold water to the hunters. Some of the children were watching their fathers while others were putting more shot in the air than the pheasant could handle! "On the way to the field, I overheard one dad tell his son that no matter whether they took any birds or not, he was just excited to be able to spend the day with him doing something fun!" said, Stan Cope a QDMA sponsor from Bonnie Plants, Inc. "My son and grandson joined me on the hunt. We had a blast, and I'm sure they will cherish the memory as much as I will."

Many of our armed forces stationed in Montgomery love the outdoors, but because they are not from this area, finding a place to hunt is almost impossible. That is one of the primary reasons the QDMA board decided to step in and help. Andy Huggins, QDMA Banquet Chairman, said, "I got involved to support a friend. What I have realized, it's a great way to host people who will be our next generation of conservationists. Being able to involve the military gives our Branch an opportunity to serve those who have sacrificed so much. Also, hosting events like this shows our sponsors we will be good stewards of their investment in our organization."

It's nothing compared to the sacrifices our military make for us, but last Saturday was worth every smile.


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