Vietnam Veteran Harvests Elk

Minnesota Elk Breeders Association (MnEBA), November 14, 2012 – David Valtinson, a disabled Vietnam veteran from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, recently experienced the hunt he’s always dreamed about as the recipient of the 6th Annual MnEBA Charitable Elk Hunt. The hunt took place on October 13-14, 2012 and was coordinated by MnEBA and generously sponsored by Tony’s Trophy Elk Hunt Ranch, Lake Superior Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI), Midwest Outdoors Unlimited, Little Crow Marine and Splendor Ridge Elk Farm.

David Valtinson served in the United States Army in Vietnam from 1967-1968 as an infantryman and later with the 196th Aviation based in Chu Lai. He was awarded a Purple Heart for shrapnel wounds received during a rocket attack on his firebase and was discharged. In April of 1970, David returned to his hometown of Grand Rapids, MN, left Grand Rapids in 1971 and went to Salt Lake City, Utah where he worked as an ironworker. It was in Utah that the fascination of hunting a majestic elk bull took hold. “I could buy a license to hunt elk while I was in Utah, but never got the chance to go,” said David. “It’s always been on my list of things to do.”

David moved back to the Grand Rapids area in 1986 and went to work for the United States Post Office as a rural mail carrier until retiring in October 2010. He is a past State Commander of the Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota. David is a disabled veteran with diabetes and other issues as a result of Agent Orange. He uses a cane most of the time because of neuropathy in his feet and legs.

But health issues did not stop David from undertaking a successful elk hunt! David’s guide, Tony Beckel, spotted the bull first when he noticed the rub marks on neighboring trees. “That was sort of how we found him, he was down here scraping a bit. We didn’t have much to see, just some horns sticking up out of the brush.” David and his group had to do a little maneuvering to get downwind and a little closer after first spotting the bull, and once that was accomplished, David wasted little time in taking the bull down. “That was sweet, that was sweet,” exclaimed David. “I really appreciate it.” As the group gathered around the elk to inspect the kill, David’s excitement was evident. “It was exciting, it was great. It was something, the adrenaline was really pumping there for a couple minutes. I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

David was very appreciative and offered his sincere thanks to the following individuals and organizations, “I want to say a few thank you’s to Brenda and Lance Hartkopf, the donors of the elk, Tony Beckel for guiding me on the hunt, SCI from Superior Wisconsin for the mounting and processing, Bob Christianson of Little Crow Marine in Spicer, he donated the accommodations for us, and Midwest Outdoors Unlimited with Ron Welle who selected and organized the hunt along with Leroy Wiener who took the video. I thank all of them, you made my dream come true, thank you.”

Ron Welle of Midwest Outdoors Unlimited also expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to be a part of the 2012 MnEBA hunt. “Thank you elk breeders for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this hunt for disabled veterans once again.” And to David, he said, “I appreciate what you guys did for our country 1,000% percent.”

This is the fourth year the SCI Lake Superior Chapter has taken an active role in the MnEBA Charitable Elk Hunt project. They continue to offer a number of terminal youth hunts on a yearly basis and are working to expand their projects to this country’s war veterans. President Dale Bruder explains, “Veterans so richly deserve anything we can do for them. We are working to do more projects with veterans.”

Tony Beckel of Tony’s Trophy Elk Hunt Ranch has offered his beautiful 900 acre facility and guided the MnEBA Charitable Elk Hunts for all six years they have been held. Tony thanked David for his services and as David expressed his gratitude to Tony for the experience, Tony said, “It’s just something I like to do.”

MnEBA offers our heartfelt thanks, support and gratitude to David and to all United States military men and women for their service to our country.