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Hunting for a good break

John-Paul Witt | Friday, November 7, 2008

Most Notre Dame students had the chance to go home, participate in service, or catch up on sleep and studying during the break, but four students decided they needed a more “intense” break.

Seniors Bryce Hummer, Daniel “D.J.” McGill, Josh Miller and sophomore Jeremy Miller came up with the idea of a “dream hunt” for this fall break, since it would be the seniors’ last, Hummer said.

“We are all hunters. We hunt deer,” Hummer said, “Three of us are from Indiana, D.J. is from Virginia. So this break we wanted to hunt out west.”

The students decided not to go to a travel agency, or book a hunting tour. Their plan was to use the Notre Dame family.

The seniors sent a letter during the last winter break to alumni clubs in the western United States, explaining their plan to use the seniors’ final fall break as a hunting trip, and heard back from the Alumni club of Reno and Northern Nevada president Courtney O’Mara, a 2002 graduate.

She put them in touch with Bob LeGoy, JD ’76, who “cancelled his plans” to take the students hunting, Hummer said.

“[LeGoy] promised us a new experience – hunting in the desert mountains,” Hummer said, “The first night, we went to the casinos, ended up sleeping for an hour, and then went on a three-day trip with five vehicles and hunting dogs, to a ranch north of Reno.”

While the students were unable to obtain a big-game license, they were allowed to hunt birds – specifically the Chukar Partridge.

Hummer called his experience “awesome,” particularly the first day of hunting.

“We spread out 50 yards across the mountain and walked up. We all got birds the first day,” Hummer said, “We saw antelope, deer, burros, horses and eagles. We had steak over the fire.”

During the two days of camping and three of hunting, the students also made time to connect with local Notre Dame alumni. They visited Apartment 21, a Reno restaurant owned by Mike Malody, ’93.

“We met [director of the Reno Alumni Club] Courtney O’Mara and a bunch of other Notre Dame people, and they were thanking me that we pulled this off,” Hummer said, “We gave them a slide show of the hunting and all the pictures, telling stories – it was networking but hanging out.”

Hummer recommends networking while still enrolled at the University, since many alumni after graduation “want to meet more Notre Dame people.” It was especially easy to “get a taste of how the Notre Dame network works” because the alumni they dealt with were excited to meet current Notre Dame students, Hummer said.

“We were worried about coming off as mooching, asking for handouts, but we believed that there’s gotta be some alums out there that share our interests, and there were,” Hummer said, “They were as happy about this as we were; we brought them ‘camo’ ND hats, they liked that.”

The alumni Hummer met were impressed with the group’s “bold” decision to make the trip.

“We made a lot of friends, and got a lot of advice, we were overwhelmed with how much fun it was,” Hummer said, “We covered miles of hiking, sometimes almost rock climbing and hunting with the dogs.”

The students, who call themselves the “Unofficial ND Hunting Club,” cooked and ate the birds they shot while they were hunting, and the surplus meat, which is “like chicken but much better,” is being shipped to them at Notre Dame, Hummer said.

The logistics of the trip were difficult at times, Hummer said, especially because he had a job interview in Milwaukee at the end of break.

“I had to carry a suit with my shotgun on this trip,” Hummer said, “But I had a great story to tell the people in Milwaukee.”

Despite the challenges, Hummer is glad he and his friends made the trip.

“Praise God we weren’t stuck back in South Bend hanging out at Hesburgh Library,” Hummer said.