- Freedom Hunters aims to honor Soldiers and Families by taking them on hunting adventures throughout the country.
- Active-duty Soldiers, wounded warriors, Gold Star Families and children of the deployed benefit from the program.
- Every purchase of OPTIFADE Concealment through Dec. 31 will go toward sponsoring more hunts.
- Fort Campbell is the only installation where this "training event" will be held.
One non-profit outdoor adventure organization and an outerwear apparel company are partnering to bring outdoor adventures to Fort Campbell Soldiers.
Freedom Hunters began six years ago as the brainchild of Anthony Pace, a civilian hunter from Colorado. The outdoor adventure program aims to honor Soldiers and Families by taking them on hunting adventures throughout the country.
"It just started from a passion for those that serve," he said, of the non-profit's humble beginnings.
Pace said the organization, which falls under the supervision of American Military Family, Inc., is "still fairly small," and is always looking for more Soldiers and more sites for outdoor adventures.
Throughout its history, the program has taken Soldiers and their Family members on a bevy of wilderness romps throughout the American landscape. Successful trips include Florida turkey hunts and Montana elk hunts, but the organization also sponsors shooting, fishing and bow hunting adventures.
It's not only active-duty Soldiers who benefit from these opportunities, but wounded warriors, Gold Star Families and children of the deployed.
"We have a bunch of things going on," Pace said.
A medically retired 101st Airborne Division Soldier, Justin Shellhammer, who now lives in South Dakota, is set to be one of the next recipients of a Freedom Hunters adventure.
"We're sending [him] on a deer hunt at the end of October," Pace said.
The organization is always looking for sponsors, or even better, places and properties to take people to hunt that can accommodate large groups.
"We're trying to build relationships," Pace said. "... We're always looking for hunting opportunities."
Applications to nominate yourself or someone else for a hunt are available at www.freedomhunters.org. People can also personally support the program's mission with an online donation through the website.
"It's for all those who serve - just to let them know that there are organizations out there [that support them]," Pace added.
GORE OPTIFADE is partnering with Freedom Hunters to provide funding for future adventures. To support these efforts, every purchase of OPTIFADE Concealment through Dec. 31 will go toward sponsoring more hunts.
"We were just really touched," said Kevin King, strategic marketing director for W.L. Gore Garments, about first hearing about the Freedom Hunters organization. "We're just really excited to participate."
An opportunity to sample and test the latest hunting gear is available to both Soldiers and civilians when the GORE OPTIFADE Basic Training event comes to Eagle's Rest Pavilion (6621A 11th Airborne Division Road), Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
OPTIFADE's new open country and forest patterns, as well as bows, sights and rests, targets, arrows and footwear will be available.
In addition to the displayed gear, along with food, beverages and giveaways, a few featured guests are scheduled to attend. Warren Strickland, a nationally-recognized bow hunter, will entertain at a meet and greet. Lt. Col. Tim O'Neil, inventor of the military's digital camouflage, will also be available for a question-and-answer session.
Fort Campbell is the only installation where this "training event" will be held.
"For this one event, we selected Fort Campbell," King said. "We know Soldiers in [this] military community are serious hunters."
For the company, it is a way to get personally involved with the Soldiers.
"We've worked with the military for 20-plus years," King said.
"As we think about our military community and the sacrifices that they make, we just wanted to give something back."
The event comes just as many are donning their camo and heading for a weekend adventure, with many hunting seasons in Kentucky and Tennessee preparing to start.
"We're going to give hunters the best chance for success in the field," King said. "... They're going to get the whole product experience."
A "Hunt with Heroes" contest, which also plays up the connection between the two organizations, is open for service members and civilians through Oct. 31. One Soldier and one civilian will each win an all-expense paid big game hunt and a $500 gift certificate. To enter, visit www.optifade.com/freedomhunters. Winners will be announced in November.