By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Winning a bison hunting tag through Gov. Mark Gordon’s annual raffle is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, something many Wyoming hunters dream about, but can only hope they will receive.
Having won a tag, Jackson resident Norma Winder, 71, is giving hers away.
“My husband and I have been privileged enough to have been all over the world and I’ve actually shot a bison cow a number of years ago,” Winder told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “But over the last five years, my husband and I have been donating our general elk or deer hunting tags to a veterans group.”
That group, the Kniestedt Foundation, provides “exceptional” hunting experiences to active and veteran members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Foundation officials believe hunting and shooting empower people by providing them with a chance to connect with nature, challenge their minds to greater focus and engage the body in physical activity.
Winder and her husband have helped around 20 disabled veterans hunt in Wyoming over the last several years, but with the bison tag, she had a particular stipulation for the recipient.
“You always hear of guys getting to go on these hunting trips, but I’ve never heard of a woman getting the opportunity to do so,” she said. “So my stipulations were that it went to a female disabled veteran.”
As a longtime hunter and conservationist herself, Winder knows what a joy it is to harvest an animal, especially a massive one like a bison.
She also knows the beauty of Wyoming’s outdoors and wants to share it with as many people as possible.
This is why she and her husband wanted to share the opportunity for these veterans, who served their country and risked their lives. She thinks this is one of the best ways to thank them for their service.
“We have other opportunities to shoot a [bison] cow or whatever we want to do, so why not give it to someone else, who can never afford to put in for one of those permits?” she said. “The joy of doing it is absolutely fantastic.”
Winder said she believes the foundation has found the perfect recipient for the hunting tag, but this had not yet been confirmed as of Thursday.
However, she knows what a thrill the hunting experience will be for whoever the lucky veteran is, as well as the people in her support system.