A Blessed Association
The Texas Deer Association was established in 1999 based upon the efforts of just a few volunteers. Since then, the TDA has led the way in the deer industry as the largest organization in the state dedicated to protecting the rights of both the landowner and the hunter.
In the course of achieving those accolades, the TDA has made it a priority to seek out opportunities in order to reach those in need and give back to the community. In doing so, we have found that our association is truly blessed with individuals that are doing the same, if not more, to contribute in an unselfish manner to those that are challenged in many ways.
Having learned more about the contributions of our members, we felt it important to share their stories and efforts to give back to their community, and to give unsolicited recognition so that we all can give thanks for a membership base that goes above and beyond in order to make our world a better place.
One such member is Warren Blesh with RRR Ranch. Mr. Blesh has found a special place in his heart for wounded veterans. Having learned more about the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Warren has spent the last five years participating in a county-wide WWP where landowners throughout the county open their private lands each year for at least one wounded warrior, or active duty soldier, to go hunting.
The county-wide program is set up so that the landowner and veteran spend the day together hunting, with the owner personally guiding the hunt. “I have been fortunate to take four soldiers on their first harvest. It is great fun to see these men and women enjoying the hunt,” commented Blesh about his time with veterans in the field.
On a hunt that took place two years ago, Warren recollected about wounded veteran Michael Jernigan whom was blinded from a roadside bomb while in combat. Despite the physical impairment, Mr. Jernigan was able to take his first whitetail ever with the assistance of a spotter and iScope.
Blesh also recalled last season’s hunt with Angel Vasquez, an active duty soldier with the Army, and the doe they hunted together. The successful hunt was Angel’s first harvest ever, and he will be receiving his Texas Big Game Award for first harvest in June.
Warren became involved with Wounded Warrior project because he wanted to give back to the men and women who protect our freedoms. He considers owning private land a blessing and a privilege, “I wanted to give back to the men and women who protect our freedom so we can continue to hunt, own guns and own private property.”
In given back via the WWP, Blesh has found that the hunters are very appreciative, often giving back themselves. After the harvest of his first doe, Mr. Vasquez presented Warren with the gift of lapis lazuli, a deep blue semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color. Blesh has also found friendship, sharing that Michael Jernigan and he are now good friends, texting and emailing regularly.
“Our involvement with Wounded Warriors provides many insights; the scars from combat run deep. Many times the mental scars are far harder to heal than a physical scar. Marines like Michael Jernigan are a testimony to never give up. He believes God saved him that day and he is now reaching out to others via a public speaking career and helping with guide dogs. TV does not tell the story and I have a renewed support and love for the training, risks and losses these soldiers face.” Blesh concluded by saying, “I highly encourage you to spend some time with a soldier.”
Mr. Blesh is a Texas Wildlife Association Board of Director, President of Simms Creek WMA in Mills County, serves on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Private Lands Advisory Committee, serves on the LCRA Upper Basin Committee and attends Priddy Baptist Church. He is a life member of the Texas Botanical Gardens, Heart of Texas Field Guides and Cross Trails Outfitter – 501c3 Hunting Ministries.
The Texas Deer Association and its membership are more than deer enthusiasts and protectors of private property rights, but a community of individuals that continually show an unselfish giving to assist those in need. If you have a story to share, or know of a member that should be recognized, please let us know so that we can continue to honor the good deeds of our members.