It is Tuesday morning 12/10/2013. I have come home this week to prepare and ready myself for another out of state hunt but also to take time to reflect what I personally took place in this past weekend at Twin Oaks Hunting Club. When I arrived home Sunday afternoon I first knelt down at my front door entrance and hugged my six year old son, AJ, who all week prior wanted to go to the club “to be with the guys” (as he said). Oh how I wish now that I had done this. Then I stood up and with tears in my eyes as I grabbed my wife and gave her a big hug and then a kiss. I looked at her and told her that “I had a life-changer this weekend.”
You see, I hunt more than most people and you could say I have been blessed to go to many different places in North Carolina, nine other states, and one different country to do this. Every hunt that I go on that could be just a weekend hunt at my club or a 14-day hunt to Canada. I have never not pulled into my driveway or half way down before my dog starts to bark and alerts my wife and child so they are ready and standing at my front door with a smile and the most welcoming love I ever have known. As soon as I pulled down my driveway after this weekend Combat Warrior hunt and I saw the door opening and knowing they would be waiting for me to stop and get out for my hugs and kisses it then hit me like a baseball bat. Yes, I get homesick on my hunts, and yes, I am sure my wife and child miss me greatly, but I could not know what my dear new friends like Clay Culpepper, PV2 Nicholas C. Culpepper, Mark Craft’s son Danny Craft and all of the families of our brave men and women that have went through during their time away from each other in serving our country and defending us Americans. I am sure in you seeing your family for the first time from going through the battles and seeing your sons or daughters after not knowing their troubles and challenges had to be indescribable. All I can say is every time from this day forward I will look at my drive way after a short or long hunt much differently then you will ever know and thank you for that.
I have been reading all the emails from this past weekend from the Warriors as well as the Twin Oak Members and just taking them all in. I have read “that it was a great weekend,” “it was a fun weekend,” “that Twin Oaks busted their butts for this cause,” “that people will not ever forget this time or people they had met,” that “how appreciative the Warriors were for this event,” and on and on. After reading and reflecting back on this weekend I feel like the Reporter Joe Galloway (Actor Barry Pepper) from the movie “We Were Soldiers” the movie about Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore (actor Mel Gibson) in the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965. Near the end of the movie and after the fighting was over “Joe” was looking all around him with tears in his eyes and saw “Lieutenant Moore” and said “Sir, I do not know how to tell this story.” That is how I feel after this weekend.
I stood in the club's yard this past weekend after all the people involved with the event and club members had left and looked around knowing that it was not a tragic battlefield and thank God for that, but it was a great and life changing event that had just taken place where I stood. I saw the little American flags blowing in the wind and that is when it started sinking in for me. I guess I was worried so much about making things perfect I didn't take time to look at what was going on around me.
Our brave men and women made this possible for me to be a part of a great club like Twin Oaks. They have, as many before them, and many after them, fought for our freedom to go into the woods with our children and friends. They have fought for us to be able to be free enough to start clubs like Twin Oaks. They have stitched the blanket of freedom that we and our families pull over our bodies each and every day and night to feel safe in our daily lives. I will not lie about this but I stood in that empty yard and broke down with tears. I felt I could have done more for the men as they have given so much to me and my family this past weekend and wish I would have done so now. I felt so blessed to have met each and every one of them. I wish I could have had a chance to get to know them better.
I left the club with a one hour drive ahead of me and I thought back on every little detail that I could and laughed and cried at the same time. From sitting in the stand with Danny and hearing just a few stories of his life in the military. I cried on the stories but laughed about me telling him to “just shoot the one in the middle” as there was only three deer in the field when I last looked but as I was saying that the forth one came into the herd. Then I said “hell shoot either one in the middle.” To me saying at the end “hell shoot any of them” because at this time about nine was standing there. Yes, this is when I started laughing. Great hunt and great memories. I thought about all the Warriors in that one hour ride. If I am being honest I am still thinking about them.
My heart is stronger now and I have a fire in me as well. I want more. I will work hard each and every day as a husband and father. I will go the extra mile if you will to do good for the people around me. I will take time to feel the wind, rain, and sunshine on my face. I will pray for the fallen that are not with us anymore. I will give when I have nothing else to give. I will give respect without first receiving it. I will do more each day of the week. I will love without being loved. I will do these things because the men that I just met this past weekend have done all of this and a hundred times more for me and they didn't even know my name until this past weekend. I at least owe them that back and my lifelong appreciation. I will support the Combat Warriors as long as they will have me and need me. Thank you men for being a part of my life. Thank you for fighting for me and our country I live in. Thank you for being unknown heroes and known heroes. Thank you for helping me understanding my driveway.
Jason H. Hocutt
Twin Oaks Hunt Club, Founder & President