Patrick Grindey had expressed an interest in the hunt. Curtis Self stepped in when the loss of a mutual friend and mentor would have prevented him from being shown the ropes.
Instead, Self, 45, got Grindey, 21, started down the hunting trail, and for the 2022 waterfowl season, they were hunting blue-winged teal in the Take ’em Hunting challenge.
On July 20, Self, of Omaha, accepted the grand prize of Take ’em Hunting’s John Deere Gator Utility Vehicle, donated by AKRS Equipment and the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, in a ceremony at the AKRS store in Elkhorn.
Self, an athletic trainer for the Creighton University baseball team, was randomly chosen from nearly 400 entrants to the Nebraska Play and Park Commission’s challenge to take a beginner hunting and submit a photo online. It was the fourth year of the seven-month challenge designed to encourage people to invite others to try the sport.
His journey to teach Grindey, a student manager on the baseball team, began with lessons in gun safety, followed by time on the range shooting clay targets. Grindey completed a hunter safety course and eventually bought a shotgun and wellies before the two picked a date to go blue-winged teal hunting in Burt County. He shot eight teals. After the hunt, Self showed Grindey how to clean a duck.
“It was amazing,” Self said. “This was the first time he had ever hunted waterfowl, and he shot down two birds from the first flock he shot. It was great, and I think Patrick is hooked for life. I look forward to many more days with Patrick in the shade.”
Said Grindey, a native of Chandler, Arizona: “I’m so grateful that Curtis took me under his wing and showed me the ways of the great outdoors. He has ignited a passion in my heart for hunting and all that the great outdoors has to offer!”
Self is also a fan of tutoring.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We have a responsibility as hunters to get people involved. I was lucky that my dad got me into hunting when he was very young. There are a lot of young people out there who don’t have that opportunity.”
That’s why AKRS Equipment loves to support the program.
“Take ’em Hunting encourages people to make memories, build community and pass on our outdoor traditions,” said Kent Kirchhoff, vice president of sales and marketing for AKRS Equipment. “We are proud to have been partners in this effort to foster a love of the outdoors and grow the sport of hunting.”
In addition to AKRS Equipment, Take ’em Hunting sponsors included the Nebraska Parks and Games Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Heartland DSC, all of which provided prizes and incentives. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to randomly drawn participants.
“Each year, Take ’em Hunting brings new people outdoors in ways that support the state’s conservation efforts,” said Tim McCoy, director of Nebraska Parks and Play. “We encourage you to continue taking them hunting and giving beginners the opportunities they need to become lifelong outdoor enthusiasts.
“We would also like to give a special thank you to AKRS Equipment, each of our partners and all of the participants in this year’s challenge.”
To learn more about the Take ’em Hunting program or to view stories from participants, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov.