No one knows the exhilaration one feels about getting outside and going hunting more than a hunter.  A lot of hunters want to share that great feeling every chance they matter how brutal the weather.    

That was the case over the weekend in a large cornfield near Hartstown in Crawford County.  The temperature was in the low 20s.  The wind chill easily was in the single digits.  Visibility was near zero at times.  Do you think these conditions would cancel a special pheasant hunt for veterans that's been planned for months?  Not a chance.

"Nothing could be better than this veterans hunt.  It's the community getting together to support our veterans and that's just a perfect thing,” said Duane Koller, a volunteer with Pheasants Forever.  

Special hunts are held across the country thanks to an organization called Freedom Hunters. The organization is made up of hunters who want to say thank you to veterans who missed out on many hunting seasons while they were serving our country.  Kory Slye organized the first local hunt in 2019 after thinking about his brother-in-law.

"I saw that he missed a lot of the hunting seasons because he was training, or overseas, or whatever.  I thought the best way I know how to give back is to do something like this,” said Slye.

The landowner applied for a special permit to hold the out-of-season pheasant hunt on his property.  Freedom Hunters provided the funds for the pheasants.  Members of groups such as Pheasants Forever brought their hunting dogs to retrieve the birds.  Everyone cooperated except for Mother Nature.  The vets definitely did not mind.

"You're cold right when you first walk out the door, but as soon as you get out there you start to see the dogs running around, you're adrenaline kind of gets pumping and you see how much fun the veterans are having.  You kind of start to forget that it's cold,” said Kevin Zaffino, a Marine Corps Veteran.

The vets say it's not just the sport they enjoyed in the cornfield. They also enjoyed the opportunity to get together with other hunters and other veterans.

"Misery loves company,” said Zaffino. “Today's no different with the weather out there.  But no one gripes.  Nobody complains.  It just means a lot to come together more than anything."

Slye agrees. 

"This year, even though it was snowing and blowing, those guys had fun out there hunting,” he said.  “I only saw smiles."