This past week was National Volunteer Week! Hopefully you were able to follow along on our social media as we highlighted 6 of our over one thousand volunteers. We wanted to take the time to expand on each of them here on our blog!
♦ Mr. David Baxter ♦
We kicked off our week with David Baxter. One of the best public speakers. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing him speak, you know! A volunteer since the beginning and a great Huntmaster.
How did he get started? “I was introduced to Cecario Guerrero who invited me to bring my daughters to a hunt, they were 9 and 6 then, now they are 33 and 30. I was so impressed with the instruction, and the character development, I told him that he could get me any weekend as long as I could bring some of the kids that I was working with at the schools where I was working. I have never stopped, I never plan to, I think it’s that important.”
Why is volunteering important to him? “I grew up like many of the kids that I bring to the hunts. I didn’t know anyone who could take me, or who would take me. I was an inner-city kid and I watched outdoor shows on TV. American Sportsmen, Wild Kingdom, Jacques Cousteau I wanted to hunt, fish, dive and study nature. When I started teaching, I kept discovering that I had kids in my classes that reminded me of me. They expressed an interest, so I found ways to get them outdoors, and start a kids’ scuba class and teach conservation. Just like it did for me, exposure to these activities can lead to a lifetime of employment, recreation, fun, and a chance to give back to their communities. I’m just passing on some of my blessings.”
His favorite memory from a hunt? “Wow! There are too many to mention, hunting with my daughters was always a big deal for me, but there have been so many kids and parents who have expressed how much attending a hunt has meant to them and their family. I’ve been blessed to be with some families who were dealing with some real tough social issues, and seen them begin to pull things together while attending a hunt. Youth hunts have helped me convince students on the verge of dropping out of school to stay in and graduate, or the special ed students who have gained confidence and self-worth and come out of their shells because they had a successful youth hunting experience.
I get to see the impact on families, and every hunt has a profound impact on the folks who are attending. Every hunt impacts me. I always walk away inspired, so if I may, I’ll keep on coming and volunteering.”
♦ Ms. Maria Mier ♦
Next we went to South Texas to meet Huntmaster Maria Mier. A volunteer for 8 years now, Maria has also battled and beaten cancer while continuing to volunteer! She volunteers because “I get to meet and make friends with wonderful people. I enjoy serving my groups and providing them with a carefree weekend where all they have to worry about is what snacks they want to take to their blind. But the most important part of volunteering my time with the Program is knowing that I made it possible for a group of children and parents to make wonderful memories.”
♦ Mr. Chase McCrory ♦
Heading out West, we met Chase McCroy – a Texas Parks and Wildlife Biologist and TYHP Huntmaster. A volunteer for 9 years, Chase volunteers because “I believe the Texas Youth Hunt Program gives kids an opportunity to hunt that they may otherwise never have. It is important to get the kids out and involved in hunting to pass along the tradition we love so much.”
His favorite memory from a hunt? “There are so many good memories I have from guiding to also being a Huntmaster, so it’s hard to nail down just one, but I would have to say there is one in particular that sticks out in my mind. It was the first hunt I ever guided and I had the privilege of guiding a 9-year-old young man and his dad on the Independence Creek hunt for his first TYHP hunt. We hunted really hard and he was able to harvest his first javelina. I remember how excited he was at 9, and that’s what’s it’s all about. From then on, I was hooked. 8 years later, I was able to guide this same young man on his final hunt with the program as a 17-year-old and he expressed the same intensity and excitement after harvesting an aoudad. It was extremely rewarding to see a kid come full circle through the program. Over the years, his dad has become a Huntmaster and the young man is now a volunteer for the program and hopes to pursue his Huntmaster certification soon as well. I think it’s safe to say I get more excitement out of helping a young hunter than being behind the gun myself. Nothing beats seeing the excitement of a young hunter.”
♦ Mr. Sandy Mason ♦
Next up is Sanford (Sandy) Mason! A TYHP volunteer for 7 years, Sandy is also a Hunter Education Area Chief. When asked why he volunteers, he says “Volunteering has been something I’ve done as long as I can remember. My Dad told me when I was in the scouts, “you’re only going to get out of the program what you put into it”. That has resonated with me since, through my time in the service volunteering for extra assignments or positions. As a volunteer firefighter where I made Fire Chief after 6 years on the department. And when I began volunteering for TPWD as an [Hunter Education] instructor. I know if I don’t put forth all I can then I feel like I let the group or program down. Whether it’s with students, Youth Hunters, veterans, or junior marksman, knowing I’ve helped someone or made someone feel better; that’s why I enjoy Volunteering.”
His favorite memory with TYHP? “There have been quite a few that stand out. Seeing historic sights on ranches, meeting people from all over the state, and having a youth hunter give you a hug. Those are all great feelings and memories. If I single out one event, it would be when I was guiding on the Lake Benbrook hunt with a new hunter and the lack of confidence he faced. What started as a challenge for that young man wound up with him harvesting a 17 inch inside spread buck. I’ve been very fortunate to have a group of friends who work me on several of our hunts. Their experiences coupled with their desire to see the kids be successful during the entire aspect of the hunt makes my job easier. Special thanks to Benny Bransom Jr., Frank Mason, and the rest of our crew. This season we’ve been fortunate to have four new people join the team. I can say I’m lucky to have good friends and good people who enjoy TYHP as much as I do.”
♦ Mr. Chet Miles ♦
In the Hill Country we meet Chet Miles. A volunteer for 15 years and a Huntmaster since 2017, Chet runs one hunt and cooks for several others – including our largest hunt, Cave Creek “Superhunt” where he is lead cook for about 200+ people!
Why does he volunteer? “Being able to see these young hunters in the outdoors and show them something I love to do is great. It’s so important to pass on the heritage of hunting and I’m glad to be able to play a part. As far as cooking, it’s something I genuinely love to do for people so being able to cook for people and get them outside? Priceless.”
His favorite TYHP memory? “There are so many to count. Being able to do this with my daughters and family is up there. But my favorite specific memory would be on one of our hunts, we had the chance to take a young deaf female hunter out for the first time. She completed Hunter Education at the hunt, learned to shoot, then was the first hunter to harvest that weekend. Had it not been for TYHP, she probably never would have had the opportunity to experience the outdoors in this way. Watching her and the other hunters interact and become a community throughout the weekend was great.”
If you have been on a hunt Chet has cooked for, you’ve probably had his smoked meatloaf! Want to make it for yourself? Here’s the recipe:
- Combine 2.5lbs hamburger, 1lb ground pork, 3 eggs, 16 oz. crushed Ritz crackers, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic
- Smoke at 225 to an internal temperature of 150
- Cook down a mix of Worcestershire Sauce, A1 sauce, Ketchup, and chopped Onion and baste on top
- Continue smoking until internal temp reaches 165/170
♦ Ms. Kayla Krueger ♦
We rounded out our Volunteer highlights with Kayla Krueger. A volunteer for 7 years, she volunteers on several hunts, one of which is the all-women’s Paloma Javelina hunt! One unique thing on this hunt beyond it being completely comprised of women, is Kayla leads a “paint-with-me” style activity and everyone gets to take home their own painted canvas! She volunteers because “My father is my best friend. Like his father before him, hunting is how he provided for his family, connected with his children, and passed down traditions. Sharing chats in the truck, silent reflections while sitting in the blind, celebration upon the long awaited harvest, and the hard work of processing; these are the things he passed on to me and this is why I volunteer. Connecting children and their parents through a love of the outdoors. There’s nothing better.”Her favorite memory with TYHP? “It is hard to pick a favorite memory, but moments from the javelina hunts have to be at the top. Watching these mother-daughter duos take charge of every part of the hunting experience makes me so happy. At this year’s hunt, a mother and daughter were unknowingly signed up by the father. Neither had really hunted before, but they were more than ready to learn. They were joyful and enthusiastic the entire weekend. The last day, the novice duo was in tandem breaking down and quartering their javelinas. I. Love. IT!”
Our volunteers are truly the best out there. If you are a volunteer, THANK YOU for everything you do and all of the time and energy you pour into TYHP and the youth you take hunting. If you participate in any of our hunts, please make sure and thank these great volunteers for helping you have such a fantastic experience.
Do you have a volunteer you want to recognize? Email us at [email protected]
Want to become a TYHP Huntmaster? Register for a Huntmaster Training today! https://www.texas-wildlife.org/twa-events/