TALLAHASSEE - January 30, 2012 -
Over the past weekend, the Florida Forest Service hosted wounded warriors on Lake Talquin State Forest as part of Operation Outdoor Freedom (OOF). Through the program, four wounded veterans were treated to a special opportunity deer hunt on the Lines Tract at Lake Talquin State Forest. The hunters were provided a weekend full of outdoor adventure, from guided hunts to fishing; all of which was made possible through donations from businesses and families in Gadsden, Liberty, Leon, and Wakulla counties.
The OOF hunting camp was based out of the Florida Forest Service Bear Creek Educational facility, which is a fully capable ADA facility allowing veterans with limited mobility to participate in the event. Oversize shooting houses were constructed and placed in locations to allow for easy travel and accessibility for the hunters.
Operation Outdoor Freedom is a program of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which allows the Florida Forest Service to designate special areas on Florida state forests for use by wounded warriors of the United State Armed Forces. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam worked with Senator Alan Hays and Representative Greg Stuebe to pass the measure during the 2011 legislative session that established Operation Outdoor Freedom. This program builds on an existing partnership between the Florida Forest Service and the Wounded Warrior Project, which has hosted hunts on Florida State Forests in recent years.
With the fall deer hunt completed, plans for the Operation Outdoor Freedom spring turkey hunt on Lake Talquin State Forest are underway.