by Staff Sgt. Garrett Ralston
FORT HOOD, Texas – During this year’s holiday season an Oak Hill resident gave some local Soldiers from Fort Hood a very special gift.
Nick Franz, owner of Oak Hill Body and Paint, provided several soldiers assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment free access to his personal hunting cabin in Bend, Texas, for what is typically an expensive Texas hunting package.
“I appreciate everything these guys do and stand for and I figured this was a great opportunity to give something back,” said Franz.
The idea hatched in October when Franz became aware of a unit in Fort Hood that had recently redeployed from its fourth tour to Iraq. With over 300 acres of prime deer hunting property at his disposal, he offered to provide a few soldiers with a unique experience.
Franz said, “Initially I wanted to bring a couple guys out for the opening day, but more were interested, so I’ve kept it going each weekend.”
Franz’s property sits in the highly sought after Colorado river valley and holds a large population of white tailed deer, many being trophy sized, as well as wild hogs and some game birds. Hunters across the nation pay thousands of dollars a year to hunt this area.
There are five custom-built hunting stands for clients to hunt from that are positioned near timed feed-dispensing barrels, increasing a hunters odds of taking an animal.
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Overocker, a tracked vehicle mechanic with Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, had the chance to hunt with Franz and harvested his first deer during the trip.
“I had an absolutely awesome time with Nick,” said Overocker. “He wasn’t asked to do this so I think that what he is doing for us shows he genuinely supports soldiers and what we do for the country.”
A fellow 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier, Staff Sgt. Marc Krugh, took home a buck, a doe, and a wild hog after spending a weekend there in early December.
Franz not only provides the soldiers with a great hunting experience, but also offers a warm and comfortable lodge for sleeping and eating. The 100 year-old house on the property has been furnished as the hunters’ base camp and Franz provides all the food and drinks. He also serves as the camp cook.
“I just want these soldiers to come out here, relax, take a deer home and have a good time,” said Franz. “I think they deserve that.”
Between hunting hours the soldiers can stand around and strike up conversation, eat or drink whatever they want, or crawl back into bed for a midday nap. In the evenings, after a dinner usually consisting of steaks and lobster tails, a large cedar bonfire is built and laughs and stories are exchanged.
For some of the soldiers this has not been their first hunt but many said that it was the first of its kind, never before having experienced such treatment on a hunting trip.
Franz says he plans to make this a yearly program and would even like to host a wounded warrior hunt after making some special accommodations available for those soldiers who require shooting assistance, or even wheelchair access.
“I always wanted to serve in the military and never did,” said Franz. “I figured this could be a great way for me to contribute, by giving something to soldiers who have sacrificed so much.”