Whitetails Unlimited has been a fulfilling, beautiful roller coaster ride
I am the chapter president for Warren County Whitetails Unlimited, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds for programs that enhance the preservation of hunting for future generations.
This is my fifth year to be over the Warren County chapter.
I started this journey when I killed a massive buck in the Mississippi Delta in 2016. I was contacted by the field director for WTU Mississippi, Brian Kittrell. He asked if I would be interested in taking over the Warren County chapter. I was hesitant at first, as I had no clue what I may be getting into. After much research, I decided to jump aboard and try to make the Warren County chapter profitable. I knew it would be a challenge, but I like a good challenge.
Little did I know that it would be a roller coaster ride that I didn’t want to get off of.
My first year was a trial run for me to learn the ins and outs of the process to make money. I had to find an organization to donate our profits to. It is hard to choose an organization when there are so many out there in Mississippi that need money.
All I knew was, I wanted to help disabled children and veterans hunt.
While searching, I came upon a local organization — Hope Outdoors — that was doing both of those things.
Hope Outdoors was managed by Dorris and Randy Rippy, locals to Vicksburg.
This event was organized by them to make it possible for disabled children and adults to hunt for a weekend here in Warren County, all paid for by donations from the public. I knew that that is what I wanted to do.
I contacted Dorris and told her who I was and my new journey with WTU, and she jumped aboard and we had our first banquet and it was a success.
I became a guide for Hope Outdoors. My first year with them was amazing. There is nothing like seeing the smiles on their faces when they get to harvest one of God’s beautiful creatures. I have guided every single year since, apart from this year as COVID-19 put a damper on the event. Although I was still able to host my Whitetails Unlimited event this year to raise money for the hunt, Dorris and Randy did not want to expose the hunters to potential danger. It wasn’t worth the risk.
This year Dorris and Randy decided to leave Hope Outdoors, and make their own organization called G6:2 Outdoors. Nothing has changed with the organization except the name.
I want to speak of the wonderful sponsors I have had each year. I do not know what we would do without them. They are consistent every single year. Each year I gain new ones and they all jump aboard WTU and support Hope Outdoors hunt 100 percent. Each year I double my net. This is becoming a big deal here in Warren County.
I am so thankful for each and every sponsor, attendee and helpers who make my banquets possible. I want you to know that your money goes to a wonderful cause.
These children and adults have the best time over the course of a weekend. I want to also thank Dorris and Randy for their hard work for not only helping me with the banquet, but for organizing such a huge hunt. There is a lot that goes into the hunt from the decorations, food, setting up landowners to take the hunters, organizing hotels for them for the weekend, setting up guides for each hunter and much more. I really appreciate their hard work.
I also want to thank my daughter, Natalie Cantin, who is my vice president for WTU. She loves to help me in every way possible. She is 14 and helps set up for the banquet and also guides for the hunt.
I look forward to serving my wonderful community as your president for WTU events for years to come. I have no plans on leaving anytime soon.
This roller coaster ride I have hopped on is only getting better with each year that passes. Thank you all for allowing me to serve our community and may God continue to bless you all and your family.
Melissa L. Reeves, who works at Vicksburg Forest Products, serves as president of the Warren County Chapter for Whitetails Unlimited.