MARBLETON – That green, nonresident Wyoming moose tag in his hand cost him 18 years of waiting, $1,402 and who knows how much wishful thinking.
But last weekend, Rick Carosone of Idaho Falls, Idaho, gave it away for free to a U.S. Army veteran with a disability connected to her military service – his way of showing his gratitude for her military service.
It’s the kind of generosity a Wyoming-based group called Hunting with Heroes makes possible. The nonprofit group arranges hunts for U.S. military veterans whom the Veterans Administration has verified as having a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or greater.
In this case, the veteran was Kimberly Collins of Washington state, formerly a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army. Her seven years in the military included a deployment in South Korea. Her disabilities include seven bulging or missing discs and degenerated bone in the spine.
But to Collins way of thinking, the possibility of injury or death was just part of the job.
“I never expected a thank-you, I never expected a pat on the back and I certainly never expected a moose hunt,” she said.
As it happens, the Sublette Chapter of Hunting with Heroes happens to be in one of Carosone’s favorite hunting areas. An avid hunter, Carosone had already shot an elk and six antelope in Wyoming; and four of those antelope were in the Big Piney/Marbleton area. This year would have been his first Wyoming moose; but then patriotism intervened.
“I read an article about a person who donated his Wyoming sheep permit to a veteran. I read that Wyoming allowed you to donate your license to a veteran,” Carosone said. “I felt very strongly that I should do this and my wife, Heather, agreed.”
They contacted the Sublette Chapter of Hunting with Heroes, since Carosone had planned to get a tag to hunt in Sublette County – one of his favorite places.
“You’re out there with just the animals and you and it’s very special,” he said.
Shane Lawrence, the president of the Sublette chapter, coordinated all the details to make it happen.
Except for the hunt itself. Though the whole community provided places to hunt, a place to stay and plenty of encouragement, and though Lawrence himself, his son, Aryln, and chapter Vice President Joel Peterson acted as guides, the stalking and shooting was up to Collins. And on her first day out, Kimberly Collins of Washington state got a moose near Big Piney on Carosone’s donated tag. Collins used a Finnish-made Sako 30-06 equipped with a Zeiss scope.
She passed up about four young bulls in the forenoon; and in the afternoon, she saw a group of animals with what appeared to be a much larger, older bull.
“We saw some junior bulls in this group, too, and then out came the big one,” Collins said. Her party asked permission from the landowner to go on the land and then stalked it for over an hour before the bull suddenly stood up a short distance away.
“Hollywood could not have written a better script,” Collins said. “It was a clean kill. Two shots and he was down. He didn’t suffer.”
The amazing thing, Collins said, was how kind and generous everyone was in the Big Piney and Marbleton area – allowing access to private property, even showing up with a tractor shortly after the animal was down to help transport the animal.
“If I never have another person say thank you, I still will have been fulfilled,” Collins told the Pinedale Roundup.
And there were no regrets from the man who gave away his chance to hunt big game in Wyoming.
“It was the opposite,” Carosone said. “In my head I tried to figure how I could possibly do this again for a veteran.”