‘Peace in the outdoors’
Matthew Dominguez (front, center) is presented with a pair of new Danner boots prior to his trophy hunt in October. (Photo via John Mochel)

‘Peace in the outdoors’

A Colorado Legionnaire got the opportunity to rekindle a lifelong interest in hunting in October, thanks to his post, an area ranch and a nonprofit organization.

Matthew Dominguez, a member of Stanley Hardman Post 11 in Trinidad, Colo., is a Marine Corps veteran who served in both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the latter, in early February 2007, he lost most of his right leg to an IED and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He is active in post events, as well as helping oversee a youth wrestling club that runs from September to May.

For these reasons and more, Post 11 Commander John Mochel recommended Dominguez to God’s Country For Our Heroes, a nonprofit that according to its website “provides outdoor experiences to outstanding individuals.” Dominguez was surprised with the news at a dinner in his honor in July, attended by more than 120 people. He was selected because he “is a worthy individual who gave so much for his country, as many young Americans have during the OIF and OEF campaigns,” Mochel said. The hunt itself took place on the Alce Toro Ranch near Trinidad.

Mochel continued that the veteran community tends to be attracted to hunting, and not just for the hunt itself: “Most fellow veterans I know have a mutual interest in firearms and the outdoors. It is a natural commonality based upon our experiences, and possibly how we were raised … from my experience, many of my veteran friends love the adventure of the outdoors, the adrenaline rush of seeing a large game animal in the wild, the commitment to waking up every morning to hike mile after mile glassing for deer or elk, and enjoying the serenity and solitude to reflect upon life while being in the woods.”

This was not entirely new territory for Dominguez: “I grew up hunting with my father and brothers, but [the trophy hunt] was truly a first for me,” he said. “The whole experience was very enjoyable, and the outfitters and staff were beyond amazing.” Echoing Mochel’s thoughts on the pull of veterans toward hunting, he concluded, “I find peace in the outdoors.”