Turkey Call
Staff Sgt. Eric Cadman, Warrior Transition Unit, and retired Sgt. 1st Class David Adams check out hunting gear at Nashville's Bass Pro Shop. The pair were selected to take part in a turkey hunt put on by the National Wild Turkey Federation and Gaylord Entertainment the last weekend of March.

FORT CAMPBELL, KY -- April 29, 2009 -- You get up before the crack of dawn and get dressed.

Camo, boots, weapon and ammo: it's all ready to go. You're ready to make your way out to where you know they should be. You're a service member, but this isn't a military mission; it's a turkey hunt.

Many Soldiers enjoy hunting during their off time. There are many though who feel they have lost the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors like they did before because of severe injuries they endured while serving their country. Numerous agencies are coming together to change that. For one of Fort Campbell's wounded warriors it meant a hunt that turned in to more than he thought.

"They were told they were going on a turkey hunt and were staying in a hotel in Nashville," said Brian Abrahamson, Gaylord Entertainment Corporate Communications vice president. "They had no idea what we had in store for them."

Staff Sgt. Eric Cadman, Warrior Transition Unit, and retired Sgt. 1st Class David Adams were selected to take part in a turkey hunt put on by the National Wild Turkey Federation and Gaylord Entertainment the last weekend of March.

Cadman was injured by an improvised explosive device a year ago February and he still has trouble with his back and legs. Adams was medically-retired from the Army after serving with the 1st Cavalry Division.

Their hunt was for the NWTF's show "Turkey Call" on the Outdoor Channel, which will air sometime in mid to late June.

Cadman brought his wife, Barbie, and his son, 14-year-old Ryan. Adams brought his girlfriend, Shirley, and her children.

"Awesome," said Cadman. "It was awesome. They took my wife and David's girlfriend to a day of beauty. They got the full spa treatment. The hunt started Saturday at 4:30 a.m."

"This is way better than school," said Ryan.

Ryan missed school March 27 and 30 to take part in the hunt with his dad.

Their weekend started with a shopping trip at the Bass Pro Shop. They walked in to find the front of the store filled with workers cheering them on and thanking them for their service. Anything they needed from clothes to boots to turkey calls was provided to them. There was no spending limit and they did not have to pay for anything, not even for their hunting licenses.

"Don't you wake up on me because if you wake up, then I'll wake up," said Cadman to Adams; both in awe about the shopping trip.

March 28 Cadman, Adams and Ryan headed out with the film crew and "Turkey Call" Host Brenda Valentine. Adams shot his bird before lunch and both Cadmans bagged theirs after lunch.

"Ryan killed a jake," said Cadman. "An hour later we moved to a different spot and I got mine."

All three shot jakes, juvenile male turkeys, on March 28. The next day they returned, but weren't as lucky.

The idea for this particular hunt came from Tim Samples, NWTF member and Gaylord Hotels project manager. He had the idea a few years ago and it just grew from there.

"We hold hunts like this all over the country, just not on this grand a scale," said Illana Burkhart, NWTF Wheelin' Sportsmen program coordinator.

The NWTF's Wheelin' Sportsmen program is dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities enjoy the outdoors. The program has many hunting, fishing and shooting events and also teaches individuals to take part in those activities on their own.

Everyone involved in this event was touched by the chance to share this experience with the wounded warriors and their families.

"I don't think there was a person who didn't go home with a warm heart," said Samples. "Everyone shed a tear and was thrilled to be a part of the whole thing."

The NWTF was looking for two wounded service members to take part in the hunt. Cadman found out about the hunt through Randy Rakers, president of Carlisle, Penn., NWTF chapter. Rakers mentioned the possibility of taking part in a hunt during the NWTF's annual convention in Nashville

"It provides them a sense of normalcy; doing things that they were used to in some instances," said Julian Bryant, Nashville Army Wounded Warrior advocate. "It is a positive experience for them normally. To see the gratitude, acceptance and joy is amazing."

For the Cadmans, Adams, his girlfriend and her children the amazement and joy happened along every step of the weekend they spent at Opryland and with the NWTF. They had front row tickets to the Grand Ole Opry, dinner at the Wild Horse Saloon and Cadman and Adams received limited edition Wounded Warrior Project rifles.

"It was the red carpet treatment," said Cadman. "Ryan was really amazed they did all that for me. I was shocked. For literally a few minutes I was dumbfounded. I didn't know what to do."

Cadman has taken this experience to find another way to serve. After missing out on numerous hunting opportunities with his son due to his military career, he plans to share his love for the outdoors.

"I just got to thinking," said Cadman. "They do all this stuff for the Soldiers. What about their kids'"

Cadman turned down offers to go on other wounded warrior hunts just because he couldn't take his son. His son had missed out on so many opportunities; he didn't want him to miss more. Now he is working to make sure other children get the chance to have someone to take them hunting.
"These kids deserve to go as much as us," said Cadman. "I am putting together a Little Heroes hunt."

He is taking 10 children whose parent was wounded or disabled or their parent was lost in Iraq or Afghanistan on a juvenile doe hunt in Illinois in January.

He is working with Valentine, the NWTF and others trying to arrange the hunt.

"Who is more deserving than a child who lost their father because he was serving his country," said Cadman. "If their father came home, he would take them. But now he's not here so someone has to step up and take these kids."

In the meantime, Cadman is taking some of his fellow Wounded Warriors hunting, taking his son hunting, sharing his love of the outdoors and enjoying returning to the activities his missed due to deployments and injuries.

Adams has gone turkey hunting again and is taking his retirement to do hobbies, work on his house and yard and plans to return to school to earn his masters degree in biology.

Page last updated Thu April 30th, 2009 at 16:18