Every now and then life will send you on a unique journey; something you look back at and say “that was a life experience!” Earlier this summer I was asked by Mike Smith of the Staurolite Foundation (http://www.staurolitefoundation.com/) to help out with their first wounded vet ladies elk hunt to take place the end of October. The event would include four female vets, each with either a prosthetic leg or severe spinal injuries. Mike’s goal was to place an experienced female hunter as a mentor for each gal. Mike asked me to be a mentor to Mimi who was stationed at the Ft. Sam Houston Army Base in San Antonio. Mimi’s background, with her folks coming from Laos, was not hunting oriented, but her enthusiasm to try new things was evident from the moment we first met up at the host location in Angel Fire, New Mexico.
On the first day we gathered up in Angel Fire, Mike took us all to a local range to dial in the various rifles each gal would take into the field. Mimi had almost no experience with bolt action guns and had been given a .308 caliber rifle with a nice Bushnell scope to use for the hunt. Her rifle was sighted in and she was placing shots at 50 yards out to 200 yards with confidence. Once that was finished I had Mimi work on shooting her rifle using a set of shooting sticks; again a brand new experience for her and she did great!
The next morning was the opening day of their elk hunt. A small group of us -Mimi, our local guide Dave, and I – set up in a field about one hour before first light. We spotted a small herd of elk grazing about 200 yards out and Dave directed Mimi to a large cow elk broadside to our location. Just a few minutes after first light (legal shooting) Mimi very quietly set up on her shooting sticks, remembered all the lessons from the day before about controlling her breathing, stroking the trigger versus slapping it, and took an EXCELLENT shot on her first big game animal. The animal went a few yards before it laid down as the end of a humane hunt. We had a joined prayer over the elk thanking God for this renewable resource and thanking Him for giving Mimi this experience of a lifetime.
Mimi’s career in the Army is now over as she was discharged November 20th after losing her left leg last year from the thigh down. She is now living back at home with her folks in Virginia where she plans to continue working for her Master’s degree utilizing the GI Bill.
The photo to the right shows her spirit at the recent Army Warrior Games at Fort Benning, GA, where she competed in several activities from wheelchair basketball to seated volleyball. Mimi is hoping she’ll get picked to go onto the Fort Bliss Trials; I’m rooting for her big time and signed her up as a WOMA Ambassador.
Mentoring Mimi was a blessing, an opportunity for me to step back and recognize that every now and then life presents you with a cool new friend!