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"Butch" Lowery Disabled Vets Memorial Hunt 
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Post "Butch" Lowery Disabled Vets Memorial Hunt
DISABLED VETERANS GET HUNT OPPORTUNITY AND HONOR FALLEN COMRADE

After seeing a traveling display of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall in Rifle, veteran Jerald "Butch" Lowery wanted to do something to help his fellow disabled veterans. As an avid sportsman, Lowery knew that many disabled veterans loved to hunt but were limited by injuries and illnesses. Lowery was anxious to make the more than 700 acre ranch he and his wife, Barbara, operated north of Rifle available for a very special hunt; so, he contacted the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) and the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Grand Junction to see if a hunt could be put together.

In August, as interested disabled veterans came forward to sign up and early plans were started for the hunt, Butch Lowery tragically passed away. While it would have been easy for the dream of a disabled veteran's hunt to die with Lowery, his family knew that carrying on the hunt would be the best way to honor the man they all loved.

On Saturday, Nov. 4 as the sun peaked over the Grand Hogback to the east, five disabled veterans set out on a hunt that they thought they might never take. By the time the weekend hunt had concluded, all five of the veterans had filled their deer tags.

For the Lowery family, the hunt was a way to mourn Butch's passing and celebrate his life.

"I think for the healing process, we needed to do this," said Mark Sigmon, Lowery's stepson who took leave from the U.S. Navy to help on the hunt. "This was unfinished business that we had to carry on."

Lowery's other children and stepchildren were also involved in the hunt, helping finish building a handicapped-accessible bunkhouse, cooking meals or just making sure that everyone on the property was treated like they were part of the family.

"It's bittersweet," said Barbra Lowery, Butch's wife. "We feel really good about being successful and accomplishing this hunt for Butch, but we still really miss him."

The hunt included a specially designed handicapped-accessible hunting blind that was customized by Boy Scout Troop 383 as part of Jake Barney's Eagle Scout project. The blind, complete with heaters and a wheelchair ramp, was the perfect hunting spot for disabled vet Emma Folnsbee, who bagged her deer at the end of the hunt on Sunday morning.

"This has been a great opportunity," Folnsbee said. "I haven't hunted in about 20 years. It's exciting to get to go again."

The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was quick to step up when they heard about the hunt. The NWTF provided food for the hunt and also gave each of the hunters a free membership in the NWTF Wheelin' Sportsmen, an organization that serves disabled hunters.

"It's great to see these hunters back in the field," said NWTF member Mark Sutton, who volunteered to serve as a guide on the hunt along with fellow NWTF member Kenny Marcella.

DOW Education Specialist Stan Johnson has been coordinating youth and women's hunts for years, but this hunt was different.

"With kids and women we spend a lot of time teaching and watching, but these veterans have hunted and handled guns before," Johnson adds. "So, in between teaching and watching we get a chance to tell the veterans that we appreciate their service and how the DOW is happy to help give something back."

The Lowery family rushed to complete a handicapped-accessible bunkhouse and a cookhouse on the property in time for the hunt. With the help of donations from community members who heard about the cause, they are looking forward to adding a bathroom complete with handicapped-accessible shower in the near future.

"We called this the 1st Annual Jerald "Butch" Lowery Disabled Veterans Memorial Hunt for a reason," said Barbara Lowery. "We're looking forward to working with the DOW and VA on future hunts."

VA officials have already had other disabled veterans express interest in future hunts.

Image
Group photo of disabled veteran hunters taking part in 'Butch' Lowery Memorial Hunt at the Lowery Ranch north of Rifle (left to right: Emma Folnsbee, Jim Gerloff, Glenn White, Randy Sirbaugh, Larry Lee)

(Division of Wildlife, November 9, 2006)
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Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:03 am
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