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Vets on Ice - Sunday Feb. 23rd, Evergreen Lake

Guest Blog by: Shawn Buckendahl 2/10/2014
How we got here:
Thanks to an idea conceived by Patriot Anglers and assisted by Born To Fish Media, February 2013 found the inaugural “Vets on Ice” fishing get together at Evergreen Lake.  When I first read the announcement, I thought to myself, “A bunch of vets on ice skates and tutus doing what vets do best, make fools of themselves because they can and how dare anyone try to make fun of them.”  Ok, maybe not that extreme but the title was catchy and piqued my curiosity.  The idea was to provide a free ice fishing social event for the unique veteran community, including their families, to explore the joys of ice fishing without a need to invest in all the equipment, and to enjoy the camaraderie that veterans share with each other.  I was very fortunate to be a small part of that event as I met some great folks whom share somewhat of a similar bond.  Now, I won’t begin to think that I know what it’s like being chased through a dessert by hot lead, or watching my buddy fall in combat, nor do I expect anyone who served in sunshine to know what I went through living on a submarine for four years of my life, but we all share a common bond of pride, service to something greater than self, and the feeling of being able to trust another human being 100% with our lives.

The Inaugural Event:
When I offered to help and play, I was welcomed with open arms, especially when I told them that I was showing up with two racks of ribs left over from a dinner the night before at our VFW Post in Golden.  If there’s anything that vets love most, it’s food.  What happened to me next was an inspiration for me that provided yet another avenue of volunteerism.

The Entities:  
Patriot Anglers, Born to Fish Media, and Just One Day, were all founded by military veterans for a common purpose, to share the therapeutic effects fishing can have.  I wish I had more room to go into detail about the men and women behind these great organizations but a 1000 word blog isn’t conducive to that.  I may try to get another guest blog up for that alone.  In short, the common purpose behind these three entities, and the proud people behind them, is to provide an escape from everyday life to different audiences in different ways.  I had just fallen into the greatest group of people I have met since I left the Navy.  Their mission in life is that of selfless giving of themselves to provide an opportunity to their brothers in arms.  This is true grass roots healing from folks who have been there and done that.

The Off Season:
All year I was looking forward to a second annual event.  As the time approached, I had not heard anything about it so I reached out and discovered that everyone was too busy or out of the area and didn’t have the time to organize the event so I reached out to see if they minded if I picked up the banner and ran with it.  My wife thought I was nuts as she knows how much spare time I have on my calendar with my recently appointed position as the Golden VFW Post 4171 Commander and the time investment that requires to realize a successful mission helping our own vets as well as any others we can help.  Hey, I only need a couple hours of sleep a day.  That leaves 22 hours in a day, or 154 hours in a week.  With work only demanding 40 hours a week of my time, that leaves me with 114 hours of time to fill.  And I thrive on multi-tasking so here I am.

The Support:
Shane (BTFM) and Louis (PA) not only told me to go for it but they would provide support for it.  I then contacted DJ (JOD) who jumped onboard as well, and even offered to provide graphic design assistance.  I wanted to ensure that first and foremost, we provided another event for the benefit of introducing vets to the sport of ice fishing but also a secondary goal of providing exposure for these entities that provide a great service to our vets.  The Evergreen Parks and Rec BoD offered support as well.   The response on Fish Explorer has been truly overwhelming on all levels of the forum.  This event, which realized a fairly limited participation last year, threatened to get big fast.  Time for a meeting.  You can imagine the excitement of the meeting.  I will spare you the details.  The result is that everyone is on the same page and enthused about the event.

Come enjoy the day: Participants will need warm clothes and a fishing license.  

Words of wisdom: Parking is limited at the lake with overflow available at the former Albertsons at the top of the hill with a free shuttle if necessary.  Please consider carpooling and be respectful of the other visitors.

“Ice prizes”:  Each participant will receive a ticket at registration and we will draw for prizes beginning around 9AM.  We are still looking for giveaways.

Schedule: Set up at 6AM.  Kick off at 8AM with presentation of the flags and national anthem by the Golden VFW Honor Guard.  Hot dogs and chips served for no charge at 11AM

RSVP: The number of your party via email so we have a rough head count for lunch.

HELP: Shoot me an email including what equipment you are willing to share (label your gear) and what you would be willing to help with.

Help items:
- Hauling gear
- Clearing snow
- Drilling holes
- Setting up huts
- Hanging trash bags
- Registration
- Ice prize drawing
- Helping non ice fishers
- Clean up

I am looking forward to a great get together. Read more about the folks behind the event in my follow up blog: The Flesh and Blood Behind The Vets On Ice Get Together.

My contact info:

Shawn has been fishing since he was big enough to go with his dad chasing steelhead and Salmon in the Pacific NW. He spent many warm and cold days standing in rivers growing up. He then began branching out to largemouth and smallmouth bass along the Columbia River and the nearby ponds and lakes. He has also spent some time fishing Florida and Hawaii while in the Navy. After the service, he discovered ice fishing in eastern WA. He located to Colorado and has become addicted to ice fishing and has been asked to promote DX Lures, which he does on the ice as much as possible. This has helped DX Lures expand their business extensively since being founded in 2015. He spends some time on the open water between ice seasons.
Blog content © Shawn Buckendahl
Member comments
opencage, CO   2/11/2014 10:45:53 AM
A big thanks to Shawn and all those involved and volunteering. Sounds like it will be an amazing and pretty big event. Should be a blast!
Lloyd Tackitt, TX   2/12/2014 9:21:14 AM
Awesome, just Awesome! Way to go Shawn!
FishingApex, CO   2/12/2014 5:37:31 PM
Looking forward to helping out where ever os necessary. I dont have a lot of experience with ice fishing but can be another set of hands where it is needed!
Shawn Buckendahl (adrenaline_junkie_ff), CO   2/13/2014 12:05:16 PM
Thanks guys. Fishingapex, a lot of the attendees will have NO experience so consider yourself a pro. lol. Any and all help will be appreciated. I have your name down.
Shawn Buckendahl (adrenaline_junkie_ff), CO   2/17/2014 2:13:31 PM
Just got a donation of wax worms and meal worms (50 dozen total) from Discount Tackle today. With all the donations that have come it, this is looking to be a great event for all.
opencage, CO   2/19/2014 8:20:50 AM
Everyone is optimistic that the ice will hold and our FxR+ and Vets on Ice events will still happen. This Sunday, try to make it if you can.
IceFishingFool, CO   2/21/2014 7:52:36 PM
Didn't catch the screen name but think it was something like 007fish ? Stopped in and picked up a bunch of Ice rods for this event. Wish I could make it and lend a hand, Hope everyone has a great time Shawn.
Bassackwards, CO   2/21/2014 9:49:31 PM
See ya there Shawn. I will be there 545am.
Shawn Buckendahl
Guest Blogger