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Honoring Wyoming Veterans in the Outdoors - Casper, WY Oil City News

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Honoring Wyoming Veterans in the Outdoors

Photo provided by HD Outdoors of Wyoming

By Clayton Tanner

High Definition Outdoors, or Hunting Doves and Deer? Maybe it’s time to do those Honey Do’s in the great outdoors? What does HD Outdoors of Wyoming stand for?

“We had a lot of people asking us at the Beacon a few weeks ago what HD stood for,” commented co-founding member Lindsay Stilwell. “HD is for Honor and Duty. Our nonprofit group aims to Honor our disabled Veterans for their Duty and we feel it’s our duty to get them outdoors.”

The three-pronged team has helped with other Veteran organizations around the state, yet they wanted to create their own group with a magnified focus. A focus on building and maintaining relationships. Founders John Haid, Lindsay Stilwell and Tom Whitmire all share an assortment of expertise recreating around Wyoming and they wanted to share the wealth with Veterans.

“We just decided we wanted to create our own, our own program. We do believe we can really make a big difference,” commented Whitmire.

With consensus, the group stated they wanted another focus for Wyoming Vets. They aim to not just take Veterans out on a hunting/fishing trip, but also to build ongoing friendships. 

“It’s not just about hunting, we want it to be a community,” said Stilwell.

A community indeed. At the Thankful Thursday event at the Beacon Club in January, HD Outdoors of Wyoming earned $42,000 for Wyoming Veterans! The group joked, “Everyone was either having a really good time, or they really believed in what we are doing.”

“We want to treat each Vet individually. The community support is so appreciated.”

Haid went on to comment about how HD Outdoors provides all the essentials for an outdoor adventure and they felt there should be no financial burden on a person.

“We feel getting people out in the outdoors should be a special experience. And part of the experience shouldn’t be a financial burden. So we provide the licenses, the food, the rifle if needed and the ammunition. We also have ATVs and we pay processing fees, etc.”

Since their start a few years ago, the team has honored 27 Veterans with big game hunts and 60+ heroes at their other events.

Combat Veteran Budd Pitt commented about how HD Outdoors has helped him.

“Comradery. That’s what these guys do.”

HD Outdoors hosted Pitt as he shot his first bull elk with the team.

Budd Pitt Photo Provided by HD Outdoors of Wyoming

Hunting big game animals in the wild isn’t the only thing the group provides. Stilwell and the boys continued to discuss other programs HD Outdoors has been doing, including “Recoil Therapy,” bird hunts, fishing trips and more.

“Recoil Therapy we started in July. It happens the first Friday of each month and we invite Wyoming Veterans out to Riverbend Roosters Shooting Preserve to shoot clays with us. We cover all the guns, ammo and Rocky Mountain Discount provides a meal. It’s been a lot of fun and we want to continue it.”

Co-founder John Haid, a Navy Veteran, shared, “To me, it’s great to be out here with my brothers and sisters. Whether we are shooting clays, fishing or hunting, it doesn’t matter. We can safely take these guys and gals out and make a difference for them. We know it’s therapeutic for ourselves and we know that it works.”

Haid has been hunting and fishing in Wyoming for much of his life and has uncovered a passion for helping other Veterans cope.

Whitmire, a Veteran advocate, expressed how much he wanted to join the service when he was younger, yet it wasn’t in the cards.

“I have always been a fan of the military and I love working with Wyoming’s service men and women. Over the years, I have picked up many friendships from these hunting programs. It is very therapeutic. Therapeutic for both parties.”

Army Reserve Veteran Amanda Huckabay hunted pheasants and geese with a ladies group and shared her experience.

Veterans Amanda Huckabay and Darbi Westman Provided by HD Outdoors of Wyoming

“After I got out of the service, I, like many others, was struggling with isolation. HD Outdoors has been wonderful and accommodating.”

She continued, “It has been really good to just laugh again. HD was an opportunity for me to build another sense of camaraderie.”

Stilwell echoed her comments and added, “We just wanted something unique and different. We have taken the best parts of these other Veteran organizations and tailored them into HD Outdoors. It’s important to note we don’t just work with disabled Veterans, but all Wyoming Veterans.”

The team continued to express its sincere gratitude to the Casper community for their support at the Thankful Thursday event and is hosting 15 Veterans this weekend for the Hawg Ice Fishing Derby.

To learn more about HD Outdoors, you can find it on Facebook or reach out for more Veteran resources at HD Outdoors of Wyoming.

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