Three days before Nike announced that unemployed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick would appear in their latest “Just Do It” ad talking about “sacrifice,” I met a real American hero.
This guy is a daddy, and his name is John Dyke. He was with his two sons at the GONetwork SEEDS Dove Shoot at the Claibourne Darden Farm in Taliaferro County on Saturday, Sept. 1.
When Dyke is away from daddy duties, he is U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Beret) Col. John Dyke, the Deputy Commander of the 5th Special Forces Group stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.
Before the dove shoot started, Dyke and his boys sat relaxed under Darden’s shed enjoying fabulous BBQ and the fixings from Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Atlanta as he listened to rich, local history from Darden and reacquainted with old friends and made a few new ones. The day was something Dyke likely needed, and certainly deserved.
Dyke had just returned home from another assignment overseas, which meant once again putting his life on the line as he was separated from his family. Although we’d never met, Dyke did that for me and you.
That’s sacrifice, Mr. Kaepernick.
“I have been to about six of the Claibourne shoots over the last 16 years or so,” said Dyke. “I was a young captain when I first attended, and now I’m a colonel. I’ve tried to make it every year, but I’ve been deployed quite a bit.”
Darden has hosted this dove shoot for the GONetwork SEEDS program for the last 13 years. Funds raised at those shoots have gone to support youth hunting, shooting sports and fishing.
When 3:30 rolled around, Dyke took to the well-prepared millet field with his two sons, Ben, 10, and Will, 15. His father-in-law, Rich Good, of Greensboro, was also on the field. The family hunted a corner portion of the field near Darden’s shed and did some shooting. Although the Darden shoot was slower than it’s been in a few years, it still appeared to be way above average for this area of the state.
“We’ve always said we’ve had the best shoot within 50 miles, and apparently we did again this year,” said Darden. “A fellow in Crawfordville rented a whole dove field for his family of 20 or so, and he only got one dove. The field up north in Wilkes bombed out. The one in Burke County got extremely few.
“We had the best shoot within 50 miles that I heard about.”
Several folks on the Darden field walked off with their limit, although not many.
“Claibourne puts an amazing amount of work into getting his fields ready for this dove hunt,” said Dyke. “From the cutting to the burning, I don’t think we could ask for better field conditions.”
The day before the shoot, Darden Dove Shoot Sponsor Jerry Gabbert, who lives 7 miles away, said there were 150 birds on the field at 5:30 p.m. However, those numbers just didn’t fly in to feed on the very hot and very humid dove opener. Darden reported 30 to 40 doves on the wire in one of his fields on Labor Day, two days after the shoot. Usually there are only four or five doves.
“Regardless of the number of doves we did or didn’t shoot this year, Claibourne’s hunt provided a priceless opportunity for my father-in-law and me to spend true quality time with my boys,” said Dyke. “Claibourne’s hunts are a great opportunity for a young person to not only learn about hunting but also about local history and traditions. It is a great event, and we hope to always make it.”
Darrell Roth, general manager of Palmer Equipment Co. in Washington, Ga., supplied all the bottled Palmer water for the meal and the field, brought many chairs used at lunch and lent a brand-new Kubota RTV X1120 to serve everyone in the field.
Another military notable at the shoot was retired Col. Andy Anderson, who completed his duty as the senior Colonel with the Special Forces in Fort Bragg, N.C. Also at lunch was Judge John Ellington, who will take a seat on the Supreme Court of Georgia in January 2019.
Although exact dollar figures raised from the Darden Dove Shoot weren’t available yet, the event did exactly what it’s done for the last 13 years, which is raise money.
“Claibourne’s dedication to youth hunting has always impressed me,” said Dyke. “He’s been a great role model for me personally on how we need to pass our hunting traditions down to the next generation. From the history that he incorporates into the hunt to the safety aspects, and even shooting tips for new shooters, Claibourne’s events are always enjoyable learning experiences for both old and new hunters.”
I’m so thankful for the appreciation and respect that Mr. Darden has for our armed service men and women. If you’ve served this country, then you’ve certainly earned the right to stand before a T.V. camera and talk about sacrifice. It’s you who are the real American heroes.
Col. Dyke concluded, “I certainly don’t consider myself a hero. Our Fallen are the true heroes, Green Berets like Sean Mullen and Aaron Henderson, both who passed away in Afghanistan while in my unit doing jobs that they believed in. Our Gold Star families are truly heroes. I am just doing a job I love and feel called to—it’s a privilege.”