Veteran Outdoors was once again pleased to bring back a VO alumni to surprise SSG. Jim Stanek. Jim is from Long Island NY, and served as a firefighter, where he assisted in the recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the days following 9/11. It was due to these events and what he witnessed there that he decided to join the Army. Jim served 3 tours in Iraq. During those three tours, his vehicle was hit 27 times by IED’s. These blasts, along with a close quarters battle incident resulted in reconstructive surgery on his shoulder and hand, as well as a bad ankle and PTSD. This trip started when Louis called VO and said that he had a great, deserving candidate for the show. We immediately went to work to put together Jim’s dream hunt. Louis invited Jim out to visit him in San Antonio, where he said they might get to do some hunting.
Friday morning Louis and Jim drove to Signature Air at the San Antonio Airport where Louis said he needed to pick up the keys to the ranch from the ranch owner. Upon walking in, they were greeted by Brad Strittmatter of Veteran Outdoors, where he informed Jim that they were indeed going on a hunt, but that they weren’t driving.
The guys grabbed their gear, and jumped on board Bob Parker’s King Air B200, still not knowing where they were going. Veterans Airlift Command had once again come through with a private aircraft to fly the guys in style. Upon landing in Uvalde, Jim was met by Cody Hirt of Veteran Outdoors. Cody welcomed Jim to Uvalde, and informed him that he would be hunting a Scimitar-Horned Oryx, which just happens to be Jim’s dream animal. Upon arriving at the Live Oak Ranch, introductions were made to John Hopkins, the ranch owner, and Donna Beadle, External Relations Specialist from Polaris Industries. Jim was surprised with all new camo from Game Guard, as well as an arm full of VO gear. When Jim told us that he brought a 30-30 rifle, we told him we didn’t think that was a big enough round to bring an oryx down, so we presented Jim with a Winchester Model 70 Classic Super Grade III in .300 WSM Caliber .300 WSM, 24″ Stainless Barrel, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Edition with a Medallion set in grip and a Nikon Scope, donated by Bill and Cindy Albrecht of South Dakota.
We wasted no time and loaded up in the two Polaris Ranger Crew’s provided by Polaris and went to the range to zero Jim’s new gun. The next three days of hunting provided us time to get to know Jim and hear his amazing story. It also provided us an opportunity to see all of the different species the Live Oak Ranch has to offer. We saw scimitar oryx, gemsbok, whitetail deer, red stag, fallow, javelinas, and several other species. While we saw several scimitar oryx, we were never able to get Jim into a position to put one down. Although there was a little disappointment in the fact that Jim wasn’t able to take his oryx, it showed us once again that it’s not about the hunt. It’s about getting our veterans back out to the outdoors, and showing them that we care.
We had a great time getting to know SSG Stanek, and he truly is one of America’s finest. Jim doesn’t know it, but his adventure is not over yet… to be continued.
Special thanks to the Live Oak Ranch, Game Guard Camo, Bill and Cindy Albrecht, Polaris, Love Hirts, and Bob Parker and the whole team at Veterans Airlift Command.
Hunt Recap “Continuing the Mission” The plane ride home from Uvalde to San Antonio was not quite as jubilant as we had hoped, and a promise was made when we landed. We were on our way home from Staff Sergeant Jim Stanek’s Scimitar Oryx hunt. A hunt that did not pan out the way we had hoped, as we were unable to get Jim his dream animal. We all chalked it up to “that’s why it’s called hunting”, but this was the first time that we hadn’t gotten our animal. When we parted ways in San Antonio, we made the promise that this was not the end of it our adventure. It was a long drive home for Cody and Brad.
The next day, the wheels were set in motion to finish our mission. Since the Live Oak Ranch was selling the part of the ranch that the Oryx were on, we had to find another ranch that would want to get in on this mission. The Rockin P Ranch in Brady Texas stepped up in a huge way. The plan was to have Jim come back to pay it forward and surprise one of his buddies with their dream hunt. Jim recommended SPC Chris Cordeiro for this hunt.
Chris was severely burned while doing a safety railhead inspection on repaired tanks returning to combat. Jim and Chris met at BAMC in San Antonio, and quickly became friends . Jim had told Chris that they were going to go on a hog hunt in Brady, but VO was waiting for them with something a little different in store. The Powers family had graciously invited the VO crew, Cordeiro and Stanek for a weekend of Scimitar Oryx hunting. Chris was thoroughly surprised by this, and had a few choice words for his buddy Jim…
Game Guard Camo made sure that Chris was outfitted with their best gear, and a group who goes by “Friends of Veteran Outdoors” donated a Savage 30-06 with a Bushnell scope to Chris. Introductions were made, and we quickly set out to find the oryx herd, guided by David Griffith (Wildlife Manager for the Rockin P Ranch, and Theron Oatman (Texas Game Warden). After cruising the ranch in the Polaris for a while, we figured out where we thought the herd would be, dismounted, and stalked to within about 100 yards of them.
Unfortunately, a good shot window never materialized, and the oryx moved on. Not wanting to spook them and get them on the run, David decided it was best to back off, and give it another shot in the evening hunt. At this point, Jim was unaware of the big plan. The Powers were donating not just one oryx hunt, but two. They not only wanted Chris to shoot one, but also Jim. We wondered what must have been going through Jim’s mind. We knew that he was very happy that Chris was getting to hunt, but we were sure it was bringing back the memories of the one that had gotten away from us a few months before in Uvalde.
After the first hunt, we had a strategy meeting with David and Theron, and we all agreed that if we were going to have a chance to take two oryx that weekend, that the best chance to do so was to have Chris and Jim shoot at the same time, if the opportunity presented itself. Before we set out for the evening hunt, Alan Powers told Jim he better grab a rifle, because he was going to be hunting as well. Jim, hardly able to contain his emotions, grabbed his gear, and we hit the trail . After quite a bit of looking, we rounded a corner and spotted the herd in an open field grazing, and slowly got Chris and Jim moved into position. David pointed out a nice bull for Chris to take, and a nice cow for Jim to take.
Once Jim and Chris were in position, and had zeroed in on the oryx, we gave a short countdown, and both let bullets fly. Both hit their marks, and dropped the oryx within a few steps. High fives were exchanged, and quite a few grab and grin pictures were taken. There was one final surprise in store though. We let Chris and Jim know that Blanco Taxidermy School was going to mount the oryx for them, and Highland Lakes Taxidermy was going to process the meat for them. All free of charge. It was an amazing weekend with two of America’s finest. Watching Jim being able to not only surprise his buddy Chris with a hunt, but to also get to shoot his dream animal as well was something that we will never forget. Chris is an amazing young man. It is a shame that his Army career was cut short by his injury.
Not too long after the hunt, Chris and his wife Samantha moved to New Mexico, where they welcomed their first son into the world, Christopher Lee Cordeiro Jr. Special thanks goes out to Alan and Cindy Powers, David Griffith, and Theron Oatman for the generosity and hard work in putting this hunt together. Once again, Game Guard, Polaris, Blanco Taxidermy, Highland Lakes Taxidermy, and the “Friends of Veteran Outdoors” stepped up in a big way to make this trip possible.