By T.C. McKeown
Colby Pack grew up hunting his whole life, and while he was fortunate enough to get to do so, he knows that not everyone is. There are some children that grow up in homes where a parent is abusive or neglecting. Or maybe some kids suffer from depression or other mental health issues that keep them from connecting with the world around them. Whatever the case may be, there are countless children that never get to experience the joy of holding a fishing rod or setting up a target for target practice or sitting in the silence of a deer blind.
But Colby Pack isn’t just a good steward of the land—he’s also a good steward of his fellow man. Six years ago, Pack came up with an idea that combined his love of hunting with his conviction for helping others. He talked with several friends, his wife and his family (most notably his father-in-law, Henry Welge, whose family ranch sits on a couple thousand acres, prime for hunting and fishing) about the possibility of organizing a special hunting trip for kids, who without outside assistance, wouldn’t be able to take part in such an excursion.
The idea was met with enthusiastic support.
That year, back in 2010, Pack got in touch with the Foster’s Home for Children, a nonprofit organization in Stephenville that specializes in caring for troubled children. He told Glenn Newberry, President of the Foster’s Home, that he wanted to orchestrate a specialized hunting trip with some of the kids.
“Being from Stephenville, I’m familiar with [Foster’s Home for Children], and I’ve always known people who volunteer.”
Among some of those people was a man named Rick Caudle, who had volunteered and worked at the Foster’s Home for many years.
“I’ve known Rick pretty much all my life and knew that he had been involved with the [Foster’s] home for years and years and when I finally started volunteering, I was amazed at how much the kids just touch your life.”
Rick Caudle and Colby Pack, along with several other like-minded professionals in the Stephenville area, worked with Glenn Newberry to come up with the logistics of how exactly they would be able to carry out their vision. After a good deal of brain-storming and a lot of support from everyone involved at the Foster’s Home and certain members of the community, the first hunt was green-lit for a weekend in January at the Welge Ranch.
… And it turned out to be a huge success!
Now, six years later, the concept has turned into an actual licensed nonprofit organization called Hunt for the Future. Today, the organization plans two trips a year with the kids from the Foster’s Home: a hunting trip in the winter (usually at Welge Ranch) and a fishing trip in the summer at Lake Fork.
“I actually went on one of the trips for the first time this last year and was so impressed with how thorough everything was, and just how close of a bond these kids develop with all the adults involved. It’s just a real special time,” said Newberry.
“Preparation is a big deal for us before we go hunting and fishing,” Pack stressed. “We obviously work with Child Protective Services when applicable and we have two adults per one kid and once the kids are approved to go, we head out to the gun range for about four hours to practice with them beforehand. But most of all we want the kids and adults to get comfortable with one another.”
Pack says that he and all of the adults involved get to know each child well before they embark on the weekend-long trip, and that they try to make sure the kids are well taken care of.
“We all stay in nice cabins with comfortable beds and we feed them good—steaks, burgers, fajitas. We really try to do it up big for these kids.”
Hunt for the Future relies solely on donated funds and sponsorships. So, in order to raise funds for these excursions, Pack and his friends and family put on a golf tournament every year at Sugar Tree Golf Course in Dennis. This past year, the tournament boasted over 100 golfers and the event was successful in raising enough money to pay for all the expenses needed for both the hunting and the fishing trips for the year.
“The more money we get in, the more we can do with the kids,” Pack said. “Our four biggest donors are probably Southwest Ford in Weatherford, Chris Brown Chevrolet in Cleburne, Hard Eight BBQ and Saint-Gobain Abrasives. Saint-Gobain Abrasives is very encouraging of their employees to help and volunteer for nonprofit organizations.”
Pack went on to say that Cabela’s has provided fishing poles for kids in the past, McKinney Bass Club and Lake Fork Marina have provided fishing boats, and numerous other sponsors have chipped in to help ensure that each hunt and fishing trip is an incredible experience for the kids.
“We just have certain companies and key people that keep us going and we are so thankful for that. I’d like to say it’s all me, but it’s not! It’s dozens of volunteers who go out there with blood, sweat, and tears and make it happen.”
While Pack enjoys the hunting and fishing and bonding with the kids, he says that some of the most special moments from the trip often arise when the day is done.
“[At the end of it all] your heart is just full,” Pack said. “And I know it’s not just me because my phone blows up all that next day with every one that I’ve been with that weekend or that day—whether it be on a hunting trip or out at the golf course for our fundraiser—and they are all talking about how next year ‘let’s do this and let’s do that.’ That just lets me know that this is never going away. You bring up this topic of conversation to any one of those folks that have donated or helped or been out there with us and they’ll talk forever about it.”
And Pack confirmed that neither he nor anyone else involved with Hunt for the Future is content with leaving the organization where it is.
“We are constantly thinking of ways we can grow and get more of these kids out and doing fun stuff in nature. We’d really like to do three or four hunts a year and a couple fishing trips a year. It’s fun for us and it’s fun for the kids. As long as we have money to do it, that’s what we want to do.”
“But as much as I’d love to see our organization get more publicity, I’d love to see Foster’s Home for Children get the publicity, too. These kids need that,” Pack said in closing.
If you’d like to help Hunt for the Future grow and continue to provide hunting and fishing excursions for deserving children, please visit www.huntforthefuture.net.
All donations go straight to supplies for the trips.
If you’d like to donate directly to the Foster’s Home for Children, please visit their website at: www.fostershome.org
Photos provided by Hunt for the Future