Heilman gets Florida ‘gator
By Annette Tait
The stars aligned for Mel Heilman last month, sending him off on the adventure of a lifetime. In mid-August, Heilman was at a meeting of Marine Corps veterans in Mandan where a presentation was made about the Wounded Warriors Guide Service. The group is not affiliated with the Wounded Warriors Project, but has a similar mission to provide services to veterans who have received service-related injuries.
WWGS was seeking a diverse group of disabled veterans from different branches of the service, and encouraged those present who were interested in hunting alligators in Florida to apply.
Heilman did just that. A life-long hunter, Heilman has hunted with family and friends for moose in Canada, and in North Dakota for goose, pheasant, upland game, antelope, and deer. The only game he hasn’t hunted in North Dakota are the species where limited licenses are awarded through a lottery system, but hasn’t yet been lucky enough to be drawn.
Heilman hit the jackpot at the end of August, when he got the call from the guide service. His name was drawn from more than 200 applications, and he was going to Florida not only to hunt alligators but also wild hogs, and to go frog gigging in the Florida Everglades. A little more than a week later, he was on the road.