Veteran Adventures hosts white-tail deer hunt

By Shannon Allen, @ShannonAllen_DE

Although the abnormally warm weather kept some deer in hiding, student veterans still took full advantage of hunting season this weekend.

Ten student veterans spent Friday through Sunday hunting white-tail deer at Touch of Nature as part of an excursion planned by Touch of Nature’s Veteran Adventures program and Veteran Services. 

Lonnie Shepard, a U.S. Army veteran from Murphysboro awaiting admission to the university’s nursing program, said trips like these help veterans from different branches bond with shared experiences. He brought his 14-year-old son along for the trip. 


“When we get out [of the military], we all spread out across the country and go back to where we’re from,” Shepard said. “It’s difficult to meet up with a group of guys who have experienced similar things, so these trips are comforting.”

David Dunlap from Dwight served as a flight medic in the U.S. Air Force for 21 years. Dunlap said although some veterans have trouble transitioning from the military to college, it was simple for him.

“The transition was great and I wish I did it 21 years ago,” Dunlap said. “There was nothing to it besides just getting out.”

Dunlap said he was glad to leave his last job as a flight medic at Scott Air Force Base because there was not a lot of camaraderie.

“Some of my best friends in the world are ones I met in the military, but these last people I worked with don’t care about you,” Dunlap said. “That made it easier to walk out the door and not look back.”

Expert hunter, deer processor and Illinois state trooper Tom Goessman demonstrated to participants how to properly process and cook deer meat during the trip. 

Goessman said his father was a disabled veteran, so he learned how to hunt for his family at a young age.


“My wife, daughter and I process our own meat and hides,” Goessman said. “My wife makes purses out of the hides. My daughter makes jewelry out of the bones, so we don’t waste any part of the deer.”

Goessman, a Jonesboro native, said the hunters seemed interested in his demonstration.

“Most of them told me they don’t process their own meat, but I’m fairly confident that they could process it now,” he said.

Shane Brady, one of the event coordinators and U.S. Army veteran, said Veteran Adventures raised $250 for the trip from donors and fundraising with Quatro’s Pizza.

“It feels great to have generous people wanting to give back to a community that has sacrificed so much,” Brady said. “These donors are helping us create meaningful experiences for these veterans that hopefully will stay with them throughout their lives.”

Shannon Allen can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3326.