LINCOLN, Neb. — In their Take ’em Hunting selfie, Kaylee Hellbusch gives the camera a quiet, happy smile as her dad, Leigh, snaps the picture from their tree stand.
On Thursday, the two smiled once more as the Hellbusch family accepted the Take ’em Hunting grand prize John Deere crossover utility vehicle, donated by AKRS Equipment, in a ceremony at the AKRS Gretna store.
Leigh Hellbusch, of Murray, was selected at random from more than 1,400 who participated in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission challenge to take a beginner hunting and submit a photo online. It was the second year for the seven-month challenge designed to reward people for their efforts inspiring the next generation of hunters.
“Most hunters had someone introduce them to the sport, and it’s the very type of experience that Leigh gave his daughter that helps instill a passion and love of the outdoors,” said Jim Douglas, Game and Parks director. “Nebraska’s hunters support conservation of our wildlife and our wild places. I encourage all hunters to share their love of the sport with a beginner and help keep our hunting traditions strong for years to come.”
“It is the family bonds and friendships created through hunting experiences that create memories that strengthen our communities and our state,” added Kent Kirchhoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AKRS Equipment. “It has been an honor and privilege to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks to promote the sport of hunting.”
Hellbusch grew up hunting pheasant, deer and turkey with family, including his dad and two brothers, and he considers meeting up with cousins for family deer hunts in Nance County to be a big highlight of his youth. In his early 20s, he started archery and duck hunting.
“Kaylee really got interested in deer hunting last year, and I couldn’t be happier having her as a hunting partner,” Hellbusch said. Their photo shows the two deer hunting on Thanksgiving morning 2020. “That was a cold morning without much movement, but still better than us being home helping Mom get Thanksgiving dinner ready.”
Though they weren’t successful, they will continue to hunt and make memories together, he said.
In addition to AKRS Equipment, Take ’em Hunting partners included the Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Scheels and Heartland DSC, all which provided prizes, such as gift cards or outdoor gear. Prizes were awarded throughout the challenge to participants drawn randomly.
To learn more about the Take ’em Hunting program, or to see participant stories, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/TakeEmHunting.