‘It does mean the world to me’: Heroes Harvest teaches veterans how to hunt turkey

Heroes Harvest is a non-profit that helps veterans transition from active duty to civilian life.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 3:46 PM EDT
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DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Eight veterans from across the U.S. are in Delta County, learning how to hunt turkey.

“I was in the woods, smelling nature, looking at turkeys. I had never seen a turkey in the wild. Seeing how they react and how they move,” said Ariano Canuto, an Army veteran.

Canuto is a two-decade Army veteran and in 20 days he will officially be retired.

Like Canuto, William Brown also served in the Army, he’s now a professor at a military school in Georgia.

“When you’re going through trying times, it’s very important to meet with those folks who have been there and done that. At Heroes Harvest, that’s what you’ll find,” said Brown.

Heroes Harvest is a non-profit that helps veterans transition from active duty to civilian life. Mitchell Vazquez is the founder and an Army veteran.

“We started it under the premise of helping our veterans get in the outdoors to manage their stress, anxiety, PTSD and everything after 20-something years at war,” said Vazquez.

The veterans are outside this weekend, learning how to hunt turkey.

“They learn some tactics on hunting and everything. At night, we just sit around the fire, talk and just enjoy the time we have here,” said Vazquez.

This year, the event is in memory of Shawn Runkle - a veteran who attended last year.

“He was up at my cabin, fishing. After this event, we take everyone up there,” said Brad Nelson, a mentor for Heroes Harvest.

“They’re all wearing these long john shirts and I said ‘hey, where’s a guy get one of them?’ He looked at me and he says, ‘right here.’ He took it off his back, and handed it to me. The next day he was killed in a car accident on the way home.”

Heroes Harvest is made possible by community sponsors, and the Ensign Township Fire Department.

“It does mean the world to me,” said Brown. “It genuinely does. In a time when you can see around you, it seems like chaos in the news. But a little bit of peace and a little bit of community goes a long way. I think I found that here.”