Hunting with Heroes

David Peck

Veterans organization sponsors area hunt for disabled vets

A Wyoming organization that honors disabled veterans by providing them with unique outdoor recreation experiences came to Big Horn County two weeks ago for a deer hunt near Byron.

Hunting with Heroes organized a hunt through local representative Jim Zumbo of Cody, bringing in veterans from Texas, North Carolina and Minnesota for an experience they’ll never forget. They were hosted in Lovell by Bobbi McJunkin of the Horseshoe Bend Motel, who made local arrangements for the group.

Zumbo was able to arrange a hunt on land near Byron through Cody taxidermist Ray Hatfield, owner/operator of Nature’s Design Taxidermy.

Zumbo has worked with Casper-based Hunting with Heroes Wyoming for about four years, he said, and Hatfield reached out last spring, saying he wanted to host some veterans on land he leases in the Byron area for the hunt.

“He really wanted to do this hunt,” Zumbo said of Hatfield. “He wanted to invite veterans to hunt that lease. He contacted the organization, and Hunting with Heroes contacted me. I met with Ray, and we put this hunt together. We had a meeting in Cody with Dan Currah (HWH founder) and Jim Collins of Thermopolis back in probably May.

“He (Hatfield) wanted very much to have some veterans on his property, just give ‘em a hunt.”

The organization through various contacts invited three veterans – Chad Kueser of San Antonio, Brad Lang of Stella, North Carolina, and Gary Hoopman of northern Minnesota to come to Wyoming for the hunt. Kueser is both an Army and Navy veteran, still working with the Department of Defense as a civilian, he said. Lang is a Marine who served in Afghanistan, Hoopman a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army. Both Kueser and Lang are double amputees.

Zumbo said Kueser was severely injured in Iraq when, while sitting on some pallets a mortar round hit at his feet. Lang was dismantling IEDs in Afghanistan and while working on one, another exploded below him, Zumbo said. Hoopman suffered shrapnel wounds in Vietnam and also was injured in a lightning strike.

“We needed to come up with three hunters, and I had known Chad for years,” Zumbo said. “Chad was the guy who got me involved with hunting with veterans. He was at Walter Reed in 2006 when I met him, and we got Gary through Hunting with Heroes and we got Brad from another outfitter. We’d gone on a moose hunt. I told ‘em we needed another hunter to come to Wyoming, and they said ‘Brad Lang.’

“They get donated tags, because it’s difficult to draw a non-resident tag in Wyoming for deer and elk. My wife and a couple neighbors bought three resident deer tags and had them transferred to these gentlemen.”

The quartet scouted the hunt area on Oct. 26, then hunted Oct. 27-28 with Hatfield using  blinds he set up in the hunt area. Lang and Kueser each got a deer on Oct. 27, Lang a 4x4 whitetail buck and Kueser a 3x3 mule buck. Hoopman got his deer, a doe, the next day, while Lang went fishing with Joe Anderson and friend Donnie Anderson. McJunkin, Joe’s daughter, noted with a laugh that Lang was successful fishing and “skunked” both Andersons.

Lang, who started and owned Stumpies Custom Guns in Swansboro, North Carolina, for many years, used a rifle he built himself for the hunt.

The trio departed on Saturday, Oct. 29.

“Ray took the heads so he could process the trophies for us,” Zumbo said. “He’s doing that gratis.”

McJunkin provided a Hawg Heaven barbecue dinner for the hunters Thursday night, Oct. 27, following their big day of hunting, and also arranged for an early breakfast each day.

“This has been fantastic,” Lang said. “Good people here. I’ve never been out here before. Bobbi went out of her way; she’s a great hostess. She provided all of the meals. It couldn’t have been better.”

For her part, McJunkin thanked Queen Bee Gardens for providing gift bags of candy, Chris Winland of the Mustang Café for getting up extra early to cook breakfast for the hunters, Hawg Heaven for “a great price” for the barbecue dinner, Rochelle Schultz for providing tables and decorations for the dinner and Hickory Street in Powell for pastries.

McJunkin, too, found the experience to be rewarding.

Lang, for instance, started Stumpies Custom Guns in a 12 by 16 shed in his backyard and later moved into a 3,000-square foot manufacturing facility. He grew and later sold the business.

“I still work there,” he said. “It’s awesome because I have zero responsibility. I do what I love without the headaches.”

McJunkin also noted that Hoopman has written several country songs.

“It was interesting to meet people from all walks of life and especially those who did so much for their country,” she said. “For me, it was phenomenal.”

The organization

According to the program website, Hunting with Heroes Wyoming is “a non-profit and charitable organization, formed in 2013, dedicated to giving back to disabled veterans who served our country and sacrificed to keep us safe. Hunting with Heroes Wyoming is honored to provide hunting, fishing and other unique outdoor experiences to our nation’s disabled veterans. We were founded by veterans for veterans. We help save lives.

“Working with state agencies, landowners and local volunteers, we offer custom programs designed for the unique needs of each disabled veteran – programs designed to boost our disabled veterans morale, build lasting memories and enduring friendships.

“Partnering with the Wyoming Game and Fish, and using their Licensing for Veterans Program – a program that allows anyone to donate a big game license to be reissued to a disabled veteran – Hunting with Heroes Wyoming matches veterans with a license, provides guide services, rifles and other gear, game processing and room and board if required.”

For more information, go to, email Currah at or call 307-258-5880.