A Marine's First Buck

A Marine's First Buck

Story by: GySgt Dane Riddle, USMC 

Hunts for the Brave, the name kind of speaks for itself. It’s all about providing heroes and their families quality hunting experiences. 

A way to give back just a little to those who give so much. Hunts for the Brave accomplished that very goal last fall for myself, GySgt Dane Riddle, USMC. This Utah mule deer hunt was more than I could have imagined in both the context of the outdoor experience and the people I met. The group on the hunt are a fantastic group of individuals who truly care about veterans and putting others first.

Genuine People

When I first arrived, I was greeted by Linda and Jim who run the Hunts for the Brave hunting experience. They are absolutely great humans who cared about the experience I had. We were well fed by Linda, who made the most delicious home cooked meals. Jim entertained us with his life experiences and stories that kept us laughing and listening intently. The landowners, Paul and his wife, treated us like part of the family. I was fortunate to have Jayden as my hunting guide who is a great guide and taught me a lot about hunting and the area. His knowledge, humor and company made my hunt a memory that I will never forget. He was willing to put in the work to make sure that my hunt was successful. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide to help me in having a successful hunt.

I had never harvested or hunted mule deer in my life and this hunt opened up a whole new world for me. As great as the hunting was, it was the people who made the experience more than I could have ever expected. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by wonderful Americans. The individuals running the organization in Utah are the most caring and genuine people anyone can hope to be around. They gave me the opportunity to hunt on beautiful land surrounded by great, like-minded people who truly cared about my experience. My hunt was a once-in-a-lifetime experience thanks to Jon, Bryant and Casey of Hunts for the Brave. To make a great hunt even greater, Kryptek hooked me up with some fresh Camo - thanks fellas.

Caught on Film

As part of the hunt, we had a photographer/videographer, Aaron Van Woerkom, tag along from Muley Freak. Beside being behind the lense to document the hunt, he helped guide by spotting bucks. It was really a pleasure to hunt with them with good, humble, professional people. Aaron took the footage and Muley Freak put together an episode as part of their YouTube “Send It 2.0 Series.” The photographs and video were an added bonus to a great hunt I can share with friends and family for a long time.

The hunt wasn’t a “gimme” by any means, we hunted hard. Up early and into bed late for a full five days. That's not to say we didn’t enjoy some R&R during the hunt though. Like clockwork, Linda had us a special home cooked lunch each day before heading back out for the evening hunt. Some naps may or may not have been had with full bellies a couple times during lunch too. We would then go back out for a late afternoon/evening hunt until the sun went down. Evenings were spent behind the glass, looking into narrow canyons at the edge of elongated shadows. When a buck was spotted, it was a race against darkness. When we would get back to base camp it was of course followed by another great dinner made by Linda. The food she cooked hugged your soul it was so good. I might remember the meals as much as the hunt.

Surreal Buck

The final day was full of anticipation. We had chased a few bucks throughout the week but so far had struck out on harvesting one. Up early and weary-eyed, again we headed up the mountain under the cloak of darkness. Myself, Casey, Jayden and Aaron were glassing at first light when we immediately spotted a herd of deer with a nice buck pushing does. Within 30 minutes of leaving the cabin, I had shot my first buck with a perfectly placed shot! It was an absolute surreal experience and to share it with some great Americans was icing on the cake. Everyone was happy and the sense of accomplishment I felt is something I hope all can feel one day. Everyone pitched in with getting the deer off the mountain and taught me how to dress the massive buck.

Words can’t express my gratitude, this was such a wonderful week and I am truly thankful. Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible for me. I really appreciate the opportunity to be part of this family, developing friendships and lifelong memories I will never forget. Thank you so much to all the people and organizations involved in this spectacular hunt.


GySgt Dane Riddle

In Addition

Kryptek also donated gear to retired USMC veteran and double amputee, Brian Johnston, who also shot his first Mule Deer on this hunt. Brian is a fantastic guy and well deserving of this beautiful buck.

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Posted in Stories from the Hunt