Patrick Grindey had expressed an interest in hunting. 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 on the path to hunting, and by the 2022 waterfowl season, they were hunting blue-winged teal in the Take ’em Hunting challenge.
On July 20, Self, of Omaha, accepted the Take ’em Hunting grand prize 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 drawn randomly from nearly 400 participants in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s challenge to take a beginner hunting and submit a photo online. It was the fourth year for 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 on firearm safety, followed by time on the range shooting clay targets. Grindey completed a hunter safety course and eventually bought a shotgun and waders before the two picked a date to go hunting blue-winged teal in Burt County. They shot eight teal. After the hunt, Self showed Grindey how to clean a duck.
“It was amazing,” Self said. “This was his first time waterfowl hunting, and he knocked two birds down from the first flock he shot at. It was great, and I think Patrick is hooked for life. I look forward to many more days with Patrick in the blind.”
Said Grindey, a native of Chandler, Arizona: “I am so grateful Curtis took me under his wing and showed me the ways of the outdoors. It has ignited a passion in my heart for hunting and all the outdoors has to offer!”
Self also is a fan of mentoring.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “We have a responsibility as hunters to get people involved. I was fortunate that my dad got me involved in hunting when I was very young. There’s a lot of youth out there that don’t have that opportunity.”
That’s why AKRS Equipment loves to support the program.
“Take ’em Hunting encourages people to create memories, build community and pass on our outdoor traditions,” said Kent Kirchhoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AKRS Equipment. “We are proud to have been a partner in this effort to encourage the love of the outdoors and grow the sport of hunting.”
In addition to AKRS Equipment, Take ’em Hunting sponsors included the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Heartland DSC, all which provided prizes and incentives. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to participants drawn randomly.
“Each year, Take ’em Hunting draws new people to the outdoors in ways that support the state’s conservation efforts,” said Tim McCoy, Nebraska Game and Parks director. “We encourage you to keep taking ’em hunting and giving beginners the opportunities they need to become lifelong outdoors enthusiasts.
“We’d also like to give a special thank you to AKRS Equipment, each of our partners and to all the participants in this year’s challenge.”
To learn more about the Take ’em Hunting program, or to see participant stories, visit OutdoorNebraska.gov.