After beginning his recovery from wounds received during Operation Enduring Freedom, 1st Lt. Kyle Burns of Ft. Benning, Ga., became determined to one day walk through the woods and hunt with his father again. Recently, Burns did just that.
With guides Weston and Jodi Clark, owners of Higher Ground Outfitters and hosts of Outdoor Channel’s “Higher Ground Outdoors (Pursuing the Heart of America) and Harold Knight and David Hale of Knight & Hale Game Calls, Burns hunted with his father just outside of Nashville, Tenn., and harvested his fourth gobbler, a large Eastern.
Burns received the three-day, all-expenses-paid dream turkey-hunting trip during a patriotic breakfast sponsored by Federal Premium Ammunition at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s annual Convention and Sport Show in Atlanta. A member of the NWTF’s River City Gobblers Chapter in Columbus, Ga., Burns attended the national convention to help pass out commemorative pins to Purple Heart recipients who attended the NWTF’s Veteran’s breakfast.
“From the time I was called up on stage and surprised with this hunt, I was in a state of shock,” Burns said. “The feeling of disbelief only intensified as the trip unfolded. From riding in a car next to David Hale, to getting hunting advice from the pros, to sitting next to a tree while Harold Knight called-in birds, the whole experience was exceptional.”
The Clarks have made it their mission to give everyday heroes – hard-working men and women who have faced adversity and have persevered with a champion spirit -exceptional hunting experiences free of charge.
“Millions of hunters and anglers are able to go out and enjoy their passion every day thanks to the millions of men and women like Kyle Burns who fight daily to defend our freedoms,” said Weston Clark. “Viewers truly will enjoy seeing an American hero enjoy the same liberties he’s risked his life to protect.”
For Burns, hunting has been a lifelong passion– one he gave up after getting wounded in Afghanistan, and one he looked forward to reclaiming.
“I’ve celebrated a number of milestones during my recovery, and one of the greatest was the day I could hunt with my father again,” Burns said. “It was an emotional day. Words can’t even express my gratitude at winning this hunt, and sharing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with my dad was just unbelievable.”
Clark believes viewers will enjoy the father-and-son aspect of the show, but admits that one of the greatest moments of the hunting trip came not during a day of hunting, but one evening when country music singer and songwriter Craig Morgan extended a special invitation to the hunting party.
“Craig was the surprise guest at a songwriter’s group meeting at local Nashville hotspot, The Station Inn, and invited us to come along,” Clark said. “Craig introduced Kyle to the audience, and everyone in the room stood and cheered for this American hero. What a way to end the day.”
Burns earned the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest award given for valor, for his leadership and distinguished service as a Platoon Leader in Afghanistan. He is now stationed at Fort Benning as part of the Army’s B Company Warrior Transition Battalion continuing his recovery.
Each year during the National Convention and Sport Show, the NWTF features events with patriotic entertainment and holds a Veteran’s Breakfast, sponsored by Winchester/Olin, to recognize America’s veterans and military heroes with commemorative pin presentations to service members and speakers who focus on veteran’s issues.