From November 17th through November 21st, seven military veterans were guests to E3 Ranch for a fall get-together, hunt, and an opportunity to thank and serve our military heroes. All were some form of Special Operations Forces (SOF) with the exception of one father-son combination — both military — who won the February 2021 Giveaway hunt when Anthony Sherman generously offered a hunt at the E3 (after Adam so generously gave away Sherman’s truck around the Super Bowl in February 2021).
In addition, the first-ever alumni event came full circle in September, with roughly a dozen alumni descending on the E3 Ranch to take part in a “Reindeer Games” of sorts, but most importantly to check in on each other, feel a sense of family togetherness, get a breather, and reconnect with like-minded warriors.
Upon leaving the E3 Ranch, we’re confident to say that all seven (in November) and the dozen (in September) former military members know that their sacrifice is appreciated and feel empowered to continue their journey forward. As is typically the case, when put back into this team-room scenario, you always see much-needed life breathed back into them.
“Once they get around each other, even though they didn’t know each other coming in, we’re not any different — whether it’s an Air Force Combat Controller, a Navy SEAL, Marine Recon, Delta Force guy, at the end of the day they are all the same person because it takes a special individual to be that,” says Curtis King, retired Green Beret and Blackhawk Pilot in the U.S. Army, a former guest at the E3 Ranch, now current coordinator of veteran hunts for E3 Ranch Foundation. “Every single guy that we have here, they always say ‘I didn’t know how much I needed this.’ … There’s something about when the gates at the Ranch shut behind you, and you figure out what this is all about, it’s like the rest of the world completely melts away — ‘I am back in the team room, and it’s just us.’”
The hunt in November was filled with blessings. Every single soldier killed a buck, which had never happened before. And five not only killed a buck but also a doe. “Last year was a really good hunt: I think we went four of six on bucks, and everybody got a doe,” Curtis says. “But this year, it was a complete smack-down.”
For each combat hunt at the ranch, one main consideration is trying to think about purpose — not dissimilar from a professional athlete trying to sort out purpose after retirement — and where Jesus might fit into that. Often, the post-event text messages say, ‘You have no idea how much this means.’
To hear King talk about it, his faith in Jesus was at the core of this fall’s event, in maybe a new way. “What I saw was from two volunteers who were prior hunters who now come back and help out, I heard ‘God’ out of their mouth more times than I’d ever heard it — one of them I was in the Army with for six years, worked side by side with him. Would have never told you he’s a believer. I know he is now.”