Episode 310 Ryan Gascon The Power of Outdoor Therapy Transcript

This transcript is from episode 310 with guest Ryan Gascon.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning into the Drive On Podcast, where we’re focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you’re a veteran, active duty guard reserve, or a family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio.

And now let’s get on with the show. Hey everybody. Welcome back to drive on. I’m your host, Scott DeLuzio. And today my guest is Ryan Gascon. Ryan is a veteran of the U S army and founder of high timber dreams. Um, and he founded this organization to support the needs of veterans, active duty, uh, military first responders and youth through outdoor therapy.

And we’re going to get more into that in just a minute here, but, uh, first welcome to the show, Ryan. I’m glad to have you here.

Ryan Gascon: Oh, we appreciate it. Thanks

Scott DeLuzio: for having us. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I know you and I were talking a little bit before we started recording here, but for the listeners, maybe who aren’t [00:01:00] familiar with you and your background, uh, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, uh, who you are, uh, that type of thing?

Ryan Gascon: Uh, my name is Ryan Gaskin. I’m 55 years old. I served in the United States Army in 1987 and 1988. Um, I’m married to my wife, Deanna. She is our founder. I’m co founder of High Timber Dreams. Uh, the hunting, fishing, outdoor activities is something her and I both are very passionate about. Um, as well, I’ve suffered from a TBI.

And outdoor therapy has worked for me tremendously. Um, just being out there is a whole different, uh, a world and it keeps me focused and clear and, and it’s good for my soul. Um. I also, uh, am the treasurer of High Timber Dreams. I, uh, guide all the hunts. I’m the donation coordinator and I run, uh, Instagram and Facebook and I’m the ranch manager.

Scott DeLuzio: You know, all of that, um, I think is interesting [00:02:00] that you’re talking about how, um, you know, the, just being outdoors, the outdoor activities, uh, helps with the clarity for you. You’re, you’re, um, your mind, uh, is, is more clear. It’s more open, um, you know, able to. process things maybe a little bit better. Um, you know, I’ve heard from other people who use the outdoors in a similar way.

They get outside, they go hunting, they go fishing, uh, you know, rafting, canoeing, all those types of things. They get outside and they do all these things. And, um, you know, I’ve heard people refer to the outdoors as, as a therapist, as their church, as their, uh, their Um, their best friend almost, because they, they get out there and they just feel like they are in a totally different world and they are in a different place.

Um, and I can imagine based on what you’re saying, that’s probably something very similar to you. Um, you know, where, where it’s just that much more, um, uh, beneficial to, to get yourself outdoors, uh, when, when you’re, [00:03:00] um, Maybe having a rough time and just getting outdoors probably probably just helps in that manner.

Right? Uh,

Ryan Gascon: absolutely. Mother nature’s non bias. Uh, it’s all, I mean, individualism, your mind just, you know, gets creative and, and, uh, That’s just another way to explain it,

Scott DeLuzio: right? And I know there’s, there’s some people there, they’re more of the city folks. They don’t like getting out into the country or the woods or the lakes and rivers and all that kind of stuff.

But, um, you know, just being outside fresh air, mother nature, having the birds chirping and maybe the water running by you, um, just does something for you. Uh, you know, I don’t know what it is specifically. Maybe we can get more into that a little bit later, but, um, It, it just, it changes things. Uh, you know, your, your whole perspective, uh, on, on things can, can be so much different just by getting outside and, you know, even just something as simple as going for a walk, a little hike, you know, through the woods, maybe.

Um, you know, if you’re, if you’re in an area with woods, I live in the desert in Arizona, there’s not a whole [00:04:00] lot of woods around here for us to go hiking through. But, um, and especially this time of year, you don’t really want to be out. Uh, hiking too much in the, uh, the Arizona heat, but, um, but just being outside, even early in the morning, um, you know, when it’s, everything’s still calm, you don’t have trucks and cars and everything like that driving by.

It just makes a world of difference. I think, right.

Ryan Gascon: Absolutely. You know, and we’re high timber dreams here in our home. We’re up in the mountain. We’re a backyard and we do a lot of hunting back there. Um, we’re at 3, 800 feet backyard goes up to 4, 400 feet. We have all this, you know, extreme heat. We have extreme winters.

And back to what you said real quick about the people, some being nervous out there. Well, that’s where we come in. Cause when those types of people are with people like us who live out here. Um, it allows them to be more open mind minded and feel more comfortable. And that way they get the full experience of the outdoors.

Scott DeLuzio: Well, I want to get more into that, but, uh, first we’re going to take a quick commercial break, so, uh, stay tuned. So Ryan, [00:05:00] um, I want to get into a little bit of a backstory here. Talk about the. Story behind the creation of High Timber Dreams and what inspired you and your wife to get out there and help veterans, the active duty military, first responders, all those people that you help through the outdoor therapy that you.


Ryan Gascon: Well, um, to start with me being a veteran and my wife, Deanna, she’s a nurse. Um, she’s becoming a nurse practitioner. She’s as well, a volunteer firefighter. So, you know, that’s just how we’re structured. It’s just the people that we are and we enjoy helping people, people that are productive within society.

Um, as well, people that struggle and people that just need a little bit of guidance, uh, with things that they think they may enjoy or be passionate about, but they don’t know until they experience it. Um. Basically, the creation is, is a couple of different reasons. One, you know, I’ve had struggles with my brain injuries.

My mind would alter, you know, itself several times a [00:06:00] year. And I just, I’m a very structured person and with the injury, I couldn’t stay structured all the time. And. Part of the reason we founded this is, is my wife thought doing this with our passion for the outdoors and helping people would help me focus better and my mind to be more open and creative.

And I’ll tell you right now, the best thing I ever did that helps me more than anything in the world is helping other people. I have a lot of veterans. I’m in a lot of veteran groups. And whatnot. And, uh, they always put their struggles up. That’s what they’re designed for because they’re veteran groups.

And, uh, I always suggest whenever I get the opportunity, it’s not working, go try helping somebody. And then take it from there on your own, because that is an amazing outlet. It’s almost like the outdoor therapy. It, it allows you to take the focus off of yourself. It allows you to become more of yourself because you’re more concerned in what you’re doing.

And as you’d be more comfortable doing it, um, you don’t have to work through the process, you just be yourself. And if that [00:07:00] doesn’t helping somebody in this one aspect doesn’t help you. Give it another shot and try another aspect of something you’re passionate about or something you want to learn and be creative about.

And then that, what we have noticed is that will put you in that spot, um, and allow you to heal and allow you to be more happy with yourself. Um, the other thing is, is we have a lot of resources here. You know, I’ve always helped people. Um, I’ve been happy as a hunter for a long time. Um, I’m a voyager, mushroom addict, elk season, elk and mushrooms are my top two helping people and that, you know, on down the list, but I’ve always gone out there and help my buddy’s kids or their wives or, you know, in, in camps.

And my kids grew up hunting and teaching them how to become woodsmen and hunters and voyagers. Um. So with all the resources we had, we were like, you know, one year in 2018, we finished our hunting and we were like, well, they’re still hunting seasons. We have all these resources. Let’s get a veteran out here.

And it started like that. And so we put a post up and we had some veterans out here [00:08:00] and we posted about it. And next thing you know, all the support started coming in. So we were like, wow, we, we want to keep doing this. Let’s, let’s, let’s open a nonprofit. And that’s what we did. And that’s pretty much how we started High Temperature.

Scott DeLuzio: That’s great too, because, uh, like it’s. It exists to help those, those other people, the veterans, active duty, first responders, even youth, uh, is, is another category of people too, that you, you are helping with that. Um, so it’s helping those people, but it’s also helping you in, in a way too, because like you said, that, that service serving other people, um, and this is something that you have an interest in, a passion about, um, and it allows you to.

Get the, the benefits of serving other people. Um, and I think that’s an important piece there that a lot of times people miss out on when they are, um, they’re looking to try to fix whatever issues that they are having. [00:09:00] Um, they. They’re so inwardly focused on, you know, how do I fix myself? They don’t think of how to maybe serving other people might be a way to help fix myself like that.

There is some, some power to, uh, some healing effects to serving other people, right?

Ryan Gascon: A hundred percent. And like I said, uh, try one way, you know, if you see someone in need, you know, you pretty much, you know, you see something you can help with, you can try help. And if, if you don’t, if it doesn’t work for you, Find something you’ve been passionate about in the past or present or curious about, and then try helping in something like that.

And I think by giving yourself, you know, a lot of people maybe just give up after one chance, you know, maybe people are pressured on, they don’t want to talk about it, they feel embarrassed, do it on your own worst case, find someone else, you know, and you trust you can talk to her, rely upon and maybe do it with them.

But don’t, don’t stop if it doesn’t work and definitely try the outdoor therapy, whether you’re an outdoor, outdoor person or not, if you with [00:10:00] the right people. Like I said, it, it’s a big difference between going out by yourself and then worrying about predators, worrying about getting lost, worrying about wildfires, worrying about, you know, survival or your rig breaking down, go with someone who can handle all those things.

And, uh, you’ll really get the true experience out of it. And I believe it with everything in my wellbeing and my wife as well. That, that, that’s why we say the mental and, and, uh, um, their mental and emotional wellbeing is. Is that important?

Scott DeLuzio: It is absolutely. And I, I know what you’re talking about earlier too, where, um, you know, some people might feel pressured to do certain activities because, uh, you know, maybe they’re.

Uh, their church group is going in there, they’re doing a, you know, some service thing that maybe doesn’t necessarily resonate with them. Um, you know, it might be a great thing to go serve those, those people, but the, in the manner that they’re going off and doing it, uh, maybe it doesn’t resonate with that person.

And so serving in that [00:11:00] capacity, you might feel pressured to do that type of thing, and that’s not the best feeling to have is, is that kind of pressure, but. At the same time, uh, like that might not be your thing, but there’s something else out there. Um, so maybe it’s not, you know, serving meals to, you know, homeless people, uh, but maybe it’s like you, you do something with veterans and, and go and, you know, help veterans out.

Maybe it’s, uh, going to a VA hospital and volunteering there or something along those lines. Yeah, just because you’ve tried one thing, you know, working with other people and helping people doesn’t mean that, uh, you know, and that didn’t work for you. Maybe there’s something else doesn’t mean that there is never going to work for you, you know, just keep trying something else until you figure it out.

Um, now, can you talk a little bit more about the specific, uh. Programs that you or experiences, whatever you want to call it, that you offer through a high timber James.

Ryan Gascon: Uh, well, right [00:12:00] now we basically, we basically offer, I mean, we’re structured for hunting, fishing and outdoor activities. Um, first responders, active duty, um, veterans and youth.

You know, the first responders, active duty, and veterans, those are people that make daily sacrifices. Those are people that give up their opportunities or may not have the opportunity to experience a therapy that they don’t even know that they need. Uh, maybe an activity that they can get involved with other like minded people.

Uh, the youth is because, you know, they’re a future leader, so when we do youth events, we want them to be very impactful. Um, so, back to your question. Um, if you don’t mind repeating that for

Scott DeLuzio: me, yeah, sure. Just the, the types of programs that you offer, which I think you, you kind of offer is the hunting and the fishing and the outdoor, uh, you know, recreation type programs, um, now for the veterans and maybe the first responders, I can imagine police officers, some, some veterans, um, you know, the, uh, the hunting, uh, [00:13:00] aspect of it there.

They’re largely very familiar with, with firearms, I would imagine. So going out hunting with a firearm, um, you know, on the, the safety side of things, that’s, it’s probably, uh, something that they’re already. familiar with as far as like how to safely handle firearms. But, um, you know, some of the others, uh, who maybe have never handled a gun before, you know, are there, uh, training before you go out and hunt?

And like, what, what does that look like? Um, you know, as far as that goes, well,

Ryan Gascon: we really haven’t run into that situation yet because of the guests that we do host. Um, that is definitely something when we get to the use side of things that we are definitely going to familiarize everybody with programs that we’re going to be putting into place.

We’ve actually decided to grow from the details I’m about to tell you. We just have recently decided this and found the proper support channels to where that we can do more than what we do now, not just hunting and fishing. But, um, we do turkey hunts. We do elk hunts, deer hunts. We haven’t done any bear and mountain lion yet.

Those predator hunts are [00:14:00] coming soon. Um, We limit it to maximum 15 a year. Um, and we have great product sponsors and financial sponsors, but our product sponsors send outdoor gear. So every hunter that comes gets a gear bag, uh, basically a gear tote, uh, Turkey hunters, uh, you know, they get Turkey decoys, they get Turkey calls, they get outdoor gear.

Elk hunters get their elk packages. They range between 000 per gear. That also makes it a non financial stressful situation. So, um, they can come out here and get their gear if they have their gear. A lot of them give it to people they want to be with to have gear and it allows them to take other people out without having to have the money to go buy things to take them out.

To do the hunting and it’s not just hunting. We educate them. Uh, we know we teach them what we know, we show them how and what is successful for us, and then they take that and catered it to their own minds and their own needs, to their own success or whatnot like that. Um, right now we cover everything, but travel.[00:15:00]

And certain tags, big game tags. We do cover, um, as we grow, we’d like to be able to cover travel and tag. So it’s 100% no finances. Uh, we room and board everybody in our home. Um, we don’t put them up in a motel. They live here with us. They get a room, they get a restroom, they get refrigerator, washer, dryer.

Um, big, big elk hunt camps. We, uh, we set up wall tents. We use our home for home base. We’ll come every four or five days, a shower, laundry. Uh, relax for a little bit, restock on food, beverages and head right back out. And that’s kind of how we run, you know, run that situation. So those opportunities are limited because they’re very, very special opportunities.

Um, but we are, like I said, we’re going to grow. Um, and we’re going to be able to do more for. We do also, right at this time, sponsor other small veteran suicide awareness, uh, nonprofit organizations across the United States, and we’re looking forward to working with more of those organizations.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s great because [00:16:00] the awareness needs to be made, um, not only, you know, obviously the suicide prevention and those types of things, there’s, there’s, there’s quite a bit of awareness there, but, uh, the programs that are available to help, uh, Work on that, those problems and, and come up with solutions.

Those programs are the things I think need the most, uh, attention and the most, um, uh, you know, support and awareness of programs, uh, that, that, that are out there. So, um, you know, I think this is, this is all great. And, um, you know, I, um, you know, getting all of these people together, uh, getting them outdoors, getting them to, um, you know, have no financial burden, uh, you know, outside of travel.

Um, which if you can get to, you know, where, where you guys are at, um, you know, the whole thing is covered and that, that to me, I think is, you know, even for someone who’s not so sure about it, like there’s. There’s some incentive there to go and give it a try because, you know, there’s really no [00:17:00] downside there you go out and if you don’t like it.

Okay, well, you’ve learned something. You don’t like that type of thing. You can try something else now, right? Um, well, we’re going to cut to another quick commercial break. So stay tuned. All right. So Ryan, um, I want to talk a little bit about the mental health benefits for the patient. Veterans, first responders, the people who are going through your, your program.

Um, and how do outdoor activities like the hunting and fishing and the other things that you guys do, how does that contribute to improving that the emotional or mental wellbeing of these people who go through these programs?

Ryan Gascon: I think the answer to that is, uh, based on individual individualism. Obviously of the, of the guests that we have, I mean, they’re all in a different spot.

Uh, they all open up to us. We don’t ask a lot of questions. We listen more than anything, which helps, uh, listening [00:18:00] allows us to kind of cater to the desire, uh, the need, the fears. There’s a lot more fears. Um, a lot of people feel pressure trying new things or they feel embarrassed. They get nervous when they’re out on their own, like you said, out in the woods or on, on hunting activities.

But. Um, but having us there and just have being the structure of what we do to cater to their need, whether they know it or not, they tell us what their needs are without telling us what their needs are. And, you know, we, we pick that up pretty quick. So every, every event is about the guest period, no ifs, ands or buts.

Um, and we cater to each one of those individually. So when they’re out there with us or in our home with us, if we’re hunting in the backyard, um, that removes a lot of anxiety. A lot of pressure, a lot of fear and lets them fully experienced. The purpose of the event and when they can do that, that opens up comfort doors and then comfort doors distracts you from negative thoughts and [00:19:00] feelings and it’s such a good outlet.

Mother Nature. I mean, you’ll be walking down. Oh, look, there’s tracks in the road. What is that? You know that? Well, that’s a that’s a rabbit. Well, look over here. Something’s been eating these leaves. Well, look over there. There’s some mushrooms are sitting here. Or, or, you know, some berries you can pick, you know, what’s the scratches on the tree?

Well, that was a lion or a bear, you know, and just, and then they start to really get focused in on it and not having the pressure of worrying about getting lost or worrying about identification and just little basic, simple things that we, we live by. The whole experience, their whole experience changes.

We haven’t had one bad experience. We’ve had a lot of individuals here that almost didn’t come because they were in a bad spot. You know, maybe they live in town and they don’t like living in town. Maybe their PTSD is really bad for whatever reason. And they can’t stand going to the grocery store and dealing with people.

This kind of shows them an alternative way of life. One by coming here. I mean, we have like, I don’t know. Four neighbors and four or five miles. So we’re out here pretty much alone. [00:20:00] Um, it’s an alternative lifestyle that’s achievable. Um, and then the activities, I mean, they’re just like, we just haven’t had a bad one.

It’s just, and, and, you know, whether they’re successful or not, which they’re all pretty much successful, which adds to their confidence levels. And, and, uh, I don’t really know else else to explain it, except for it just takes their focus off absolutely everything. You know, a rotten mind will, will destroy you as a human being and you just feed off of it.

You know, misery loves company and you’re more than one person when you’re talking to yourself in your head and, you know, and so we can help eliminate part of that and show them a different structured way or have different outdoor, uh, opportunities. Maybe they just want to start picking mushrooms and they’re not into the hunting.

Maybe they just like going hikes and learning how to use a mapping system on their phone for security, you know? So that’s, that’s the mental and emotional part. As far as mother nature, I just can’t explain it. It’s just, it’s, it’s, it’s based on the individual, what they’re, how we can [00:21:00] distract them without taking away from anything to let their mind open up and realize.

That these things exist, I guess, is the best way for me to say that.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And I, that totally makes sense too, because I know for myself, I, I haven’t gone hunting in a long time, but I, years ago I would go hunting and. When you’re out, you’re walking around hunting, uh, whatever it is that you’re, you’re looking for, you’re, you’re, you’re in a blind or whatever, you’re focused on the hunt.

You’re, you’re looking for the animal that you’re hunting. You’re, you’re looking for that, that target to, uh, to take. And yeah, well, you might think, oh yeah, there’s a lot of time that you could just sit there and get lost in those dark thoughts, but really you don’t, you end up getting so focused on.

Whatever it is that you’re, you’re hunting, um, you know, even fishing, uh, you know, I’m not much of a fisherman, but, um, I could imagine it’s very similar where you’re, you’re sitting there and you’re, you’re focused on, [00:22:00] um, you know, okay, is this the right place to, to be fishing, you know, are the fish biting here?

Do I go someplace else that, you know, and you’re looking around for, for the best place to go, um, you know, to, to get the fish that you’re, you’re looking for. Um, and. Yeah. Walking around, even like you said, just hiking and, you know, looking for berries or mushrooms or other things that are, you know, growing out in the woods, um, you kind of have to be on the lookout for those things.

I’m not just going to pop up like a grocery store, like here it is, here’s your, your raspberries or whatever, you know, it’s not going to just pop up and, and punch you in the face. Right. So, so you have to be on the lookout for those things. And so, yeah, it’s going to take your mind off of the. The negative thoughts, because you have this task at hand now, and now you have to go and, um, you know, execute on, on this task.

Um, and, and without that, then you, you do start to go back into those thoughts. And so, um, you know, I think like you [00:23:00] said, it’s not to take away from maybe any of the experiences that these people have had, uh, in the past, any of these negative experiences, um, but it’s. It’s giving them an outlet to kind of distract themselves so that they can allow their brains to kind of maybe catch up and heal a little bit before uh, you know, getting back into, you know, their, their normal day to day life.

Right? Absolutely.

Ryan Gascon: And it’s not just so much the main activity. I mean, we include them in a lot of decision making, you know, like this is where we’re going to go. What do you think? You know, this is what we’re going to look for. So if you notice it, you don’t keep your eye out for it. Um, if this isn’t working, we should probably try this.

Do you have any suggestions? You know, we still learn something from everybody, mostly all positive, you know, and I think that’s what makes a good human is being able to take a little something from everybody and naturally just absorb it and put it forward on your, on your own self. And, and I think it’s just the world’s a selfish place.

I believe that. And, uh, so yeah, you know, we, we include them in a lot of decision [00:24:00] making, you know, we don’t put pressure on them if they feel pressured, we’ll back off, but they pick it up pretty quick, pretty soon. I’ve got to be able, let’s go check over there. That’s what we’re talking about right there.

If you know what I mean. So yeah, definitely. Yeah, definitely, definitely great focus.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah. And so you, you mentioned earlier in the episode that. You only work with about 15, uh, you know, a year, uh, going through this, this program. And, um, I got to imagine that demand is probably higher than that. You probably get more people reaching out than you’re able to necessarily service through these outdoor activities.

Um, are there other programs, other things that you do with veterans who come out that you can’t necessarily serve through, uh, through your programs?

Ryan Gascon: Uh, yeah, yeah, we’d like to be able to serve a lot more, but real quick, um, on that, um, you know, we look for these guests that meet the criteria, um, that are out there trying to do things or need new outlets, [00:25:00] um, but at the same time, no discrimination to veterans, but if they’re out there and they’ve killed 10 bull elk and they hunt every year and they’re successful and they know what they’re doing, they probably won’t be selected through our application process for that.

Um, we like to. Okay. You know, get more people involved in everything that we do. But yeah, uh, hunting season, we can only serve so many, uh, every year we have, I can tell you hundreds reach out to us, thousands sometimes on hunt giveaways, um, we’ll hook other veterans up with each other. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll say, Hey, we know another guy that reached out.

He drew a tag for the same area. You don’t have anyone to go with. You, you want me to hook you up with him? I’ll send them my Onyx waypoints. I’ll sometimes I’ll come here first and, and, and I’ll, I’ll go show him where I would camp and where I would start and give him a bunch of waypoints. And this is what you need to do.

And if you get an animal down and you need help, you call, I think the last guy has got two in a row now, two years in a row by helping him out. And he’s hunting with other people now. And, um, I think. He called me at 9 32 years ago and said, Hey, remember [00:26:00] that spot? You told me to go opening day. I go, yeah.

He goes, well, I didn’t go there until this morning, but there’s a dead bull laying on the ground. So I went up there, I got home like at four in the morning. And, you know, so those are things we do as well. Eastern Oregon veterans. Um, it’s an organization that I was invited to several months ago. It’s just an amazing deal.

We, we, uh, we meet for lunch in a town about 40 miles from here. Um, every Wednesday, if you can make it, we show up. If you can’t, we maybe see on the next time, but it’s there to support one another and it’s there to support the local communities. And, uh, it’s pretty cool. It’s usually there about an hour to two, usually two hours.

We’re there eating BS. And we’ve got Vietnam veterans, Gulf war veterans, uh, Iraqi veterans, combat veterans, non combat veterans. And it’s just a really good resource. And, you know, I wish other people, and you know, they may, now that we’re putting this out there, it’s, it’s a great outlet for people to start doing within their own communities.

It’s a lot easier to hang around somebody that you’re like minded with, uh, when you’re in a bad spot.

Scott DeLuzio: [00:27:00] Yeah. And even just that, that camaraderie, you know, as you are leaving the military, uh, you have that group of people, that group of like minded people, and you get out, you think you’re not going to miss it, but then, you know, a couple of months go by and you start missing it and you’re wishing that you had that.

Um, and so having a group of. Like minded people, other, other veterans. Uh, and it doesn’t matter which branch of the service I’ve been doing this show long enough to, to know that when you start talking to another veteran, it doesn’t matter if they’re army or Marines or Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter what branch of the service that they were in.

They. There’s a similar language that we all speak in a way that we all kind of get along a lot of times by the end of the conversations that I have with people. It feels like I’ve known them for years just because we and we do this show. It’s a half hour to an hour long somewhere around there. A lot of the episodes that I’ve done and, um, You know, [00:28:00] it’s not that much time to be sitting down and talking with somebody, but, but at the end of it feels like, you know, the person, like you’ve known them for a while.

And so having this type of, uh, activity where you get together regularly with people, it’s not like a, you know, once every six months, but you know, when. Once a week, once every other week, something like that, you know, something that that’s manageable, whatever’s manageable for you, um, is going to help improve your, uh, your lack of that camaraderie, right.

That, that you feel like you’ve been missing. Um, and. You’ll have those like minded people to joke around with, you know, share stories to help each other out with whatever it is that they might be going through. Um, to me, I think that’s, that’s just super important to have that type of, uh, that type of group.

And like you said, it’s super easy to get that together. Um, you know, especially these days with social media, you could put a, a post out on a local, you know, community group, Hey, veterans, we’re meeting up for breakfast or lunch [00:29:00] or whatever it is on Wednesday at this place. Be here or don’t, you know, I don’t care, you know,

Ryan Gascon: post it up and you either can make one or you can’t.

Now we’re getting ready to do one once a month on a Saturday for all the guys that work and can’t be there.

Scott DeLuzio: There you go. So, so, so many options that are out there, um, to help people out. Um, with that, I’m going to take a, another quick commercial break. So stay tuned. So, so far we’ve been talking about the different programs that you.

You run, you know, the hunting, the fishing, the outdoor activities that you do with the veterans. Um, and then, you know, just, just, uh, before the break, we were talking about the, um, the other ways that you interact with the veteran community, just getting people to, you know, meet up at a restaurant, you know, once a week, uh, that type of thing.

And that just helps with the camaraderie. It’s not getting outdoors necessarily, but there’s other people that you can, you can talk with. Um, you can. Share experiences [00:30:00] with and whatever it is that you need to do. Um, but I want to go back to some of these, these outdoor programs, the hunting, the fishing, those types of things.

Um, are there ways that you tailor, uh, each of these experiences to the individual and what it is that they need? Um, you know, what they’re comfortable with and, and maybe some physical limitations and things along those lines. Absolutely.

Ryan Gascon: Every, everyone is individualized. I mean, I, I don’t have any pressure being out in the woods, taking somebody on an activity, whether it’s hunting or foraging, there’s no pressure.

You just go out and you do what you know to do and you look and you just keep searching and you keep looking and you keep doing what’s right to do. And eventually it will happen for you. Um, but yes, we do ask, uh, you know, we feed everybody really good too. So food likes food dislikes. If you got a dislike, it’s not even going to, Be it, you’re not even going to see it while you’re here.

Um, mostly home cooking, physical abilities. Yes, we have guys that, uh, can walk four or five [00:31:00] miles at a time. And we have guys that are good for one mile in the entire day in a hunting camp. Still get it done. You just have to work it a little bit differently. Um, actually it’s really benefited myself. Um, for the mere fact that over the years of catering to physical limitations, it’s actually made me even a better hunter and a better guide.

Um, patience is huge and I’ve always had patience, but it’s so important to me that the whole experience is about the guest and the guest only. It’s not about high timber dreams until it’s over. It’s not about Ryan, Indiana. It’s not about Jason or Chad on our staff that want to come help or volunteers that want to come help.

It’s all about. That guests, and like I said, they pretty much tell you everything you want to know. It’s just like elk. If you listen to it, help during the rut over time, you’ll pretty much figure out what he’s doing and what he’s telling you. Same thing with the hunters. They’re, they, they’re telling you without telling you.

So, uh, we have no issues with any of that. Um, we haven’t had anybody in a [00:32:00] track chair yet, you know, but I’m sure those times are coming. I think I said, or maybe I didn’t mention in the show yet, but we have decided to take it to the next level. We have a lot of good support and. We want to be able to do much more activity.

So we’re really going to work on jumping, not little steps, but big step, big step to get to where we can get without losing any quality of, or meaning of what we do for the individuals. Once we get to that point where that can be controlled, stop, back up, refresh, start over. If we can ever meet that requirement, we’ll move again.

But if we can’t, then that’s our comfort level and that’s how we’re going to do it. And that’s the same way we treat guests. What is your comfort? Yeah,

Scott DeLuzio: that’s awesome. Oh, go ahead. I’m sorry. No, no, go ahead. Uh, I didn’t want to

Ryan Gascon: really makes the difference 100% on their experience and how they’re going to absorb it.

You know, you get a veteran out there, you know, combat veteran. He, he doesn’t want to tell you that he can’t do this or that. I keep my eye on him without him knowing. [00:33:00] I keep my eye on him and I may let it slide for the whole day. We get back to camp and. He’s having trouble getting out of bed when we put some insoles in his boots, or maybe we take a break and we go look at other spots and glass tonight, you know, and give them the whole experience and all that way he’s a no, no pressure.

He doesn’t feel inferior. You know, don’t get me wrong though. There’s banter in camp. It just naturally started by them, of course, in the branch of service you were in pretty much as the main part about the banter, but you know, that’s something else. That’s the comradery that they miss. Right. You know, and, and it’s,

Scott DeLuzio: you need to have that.

Ryan Gascon: Yeah. Yeah. It’s nothing mean or abusive. I mean, and, you know, thick in the skin. That’s what the guys always say, you know, and when we have guys helping us that aren’t veterans that really just wanna be a part of helping pe, helping us sometimes, and they jump right in there, you know, they get the same thing everybody else gets.

And, and it, it just really makes for a good time.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, it does. And that, that banter, the, the good, good natured [00:34:00] fun, you know, kind of the, the trash talk between the branches, the, you know, the, the army, the Navy, the, you know, all of them going back and forth. And, um, it brings us back to the time when we were serving and, um, you know, gets us, you know, kind of out of that, um, out of that funk, maybe that we, we might be, you know, because, cause we all know that it’s, it’s all.

In good fun, you know, and so we can laugh at ourselves, um, which, you know, people who are going through difficult times, um, you know, they, they beat themselves up more than they are able to laugh at themselves. So having that, that ability to have those other people there and, and you can, yeah, you know what, this is kind of funny, you know, you know, we can laugh at ourselves and that’s, that’s a great thing to have.

Um, you talked a little bit about some of these people who, um, You know, might have disabilities or, you know, whether they talk about the [00:35:00] disabilities or not, but you, you pay attention to these things. Um, but I got to imagine at the end of whatever the activity is, uh, at the end of the, the trip that they’re, they’re ready to pack up and go home.

And, um, something is, is probably changed in a lot of these people. Um, there’s some positive impacts I’d, I’d imagine. Um. What are some of these things that, that you’ve seen, uh, in, in people as they’ve gone through this program, gone, gone through and, and done a hunt or done gone fishing or, uh, foraging any of these outdoor activities that you, you, uh, lead them through.

Um, what are some of the positive impacts that you’ve seen?

Ryan Gascon: Um, I see that it’s just an. That they realize there’s outlets out there and good people that are willing to help them through those outlets and it creates a networking for them. I mean, they’ve gotten through something, they’ve just gone through something that, you know, they really wanted to [00:36:00] do or they weren’t sure about and they made it and it was fun and they met people, you know, all of them keep in touch with us, their family, we talk every year, you know, what tag did you draw?

What are you doing this or how are you doing out there? Hey, I’m going to be coming by or hey, we’re heading down that way. Are you going to be around? Um, I think it creates that outlet to make the next experience easier. I think it’s the number one thing I see and it builds confidence. And like you said a minute ago, there people mentally are in bad spots.

You’re your own worst enemy. Yeah. Um, and I think this removes a big portion of that and it’s confident booster. Um, I think it just big thing too, like the Eastern Oregon veterans lunch, right? That create creates a networking. That there’s guys, like you said, where you sit there and you talk about things you have in common.

Well, next thing you know, you might be hunting with one of them, or you might go to the rodeo with one, or you both like going, you know, shopping or whatever it is that you choose to do. Maybe you both have a favorite restaurant and you start going there together separately sometimes, you know what I mean?

So the, the, the networking is [00:37:00] so crucial. And I think our program opens that up. Cause we, we do, we have such a diversity of people that we follow and support and support and follow us. Say you’re here talking, I’m in a hunt and say, Hey, guess what? You know, God, I really, I really, I really wish I could learn how to, you know, uh, be a blacksmith.

Guess what? The odds are we could probably go through our followers and supporters and find somebody that teaches classes, you know? And so I think, I think it’s those little impactful things. That build the personal confidence and, you know, and they know, so I’m been in a bad spot again, when they leave, they call, we talk about the trip.

We talk about, that’s probably the first time I’ll ever really talk about them without talking about them. It’ll be, I’ll make it a point about them to get them to talk to me and try to provide more outlets for them. So I think those are the biggest notices, but the outdoor you’re, you’re completely absorbed.

You are completely 100% of focus. Like you said, and all these little things build confidence. Sure. [00:38:00]

Scott DeLuzio: And I think another benefit that, that comes to mind is, uh, you know, we’re talking about the, getting the veterans together in, you know, like a weekly. Uh, you know, going to a restaurant once a week or that type of thing.

Um, and you start meeting these people, but, um, for people who maybe have never hunted before and they come through and they’ve, they’ve hunted and they find, Hey, I actually enjoy this. This is cool. Right now I have all this cool gear. I can, I can go and do the hunting. Um, you know, when, when they get back to wherever they live, cause they may not necessarily live, you know, in your backyard.

Um, but. They can find other hunters and other people who are in their circle. Maybe, maybe people that they work with or other people, uh, in their, their communities that they can now go and hunt with. And we were talking about, you know, in the military, you lose that camaraderie when you get out. Um, but now you have a new group of people that.

You’re now exposed to that. Now you have [00:39:00] that camaraderie with those people. So, you know, Bill from work is now the guy that you go hunting with on, on the weekends or something, and you can, you now have that guy who maybe you never talked too much to before, but now you guys are buddies and you go hunting and, or fishing or whatever it is that you guys ended up doing.

Um, but it’s that you’re exposed now to a new activity that. Maybe you’ve never done before. And now, now you’re, uh, you got the confidence because you’ve, you’ve gone through it with, with somebody else who already knows what they’re doing. Uh, they showed you the ropes and showed you what you’re, you should do, shouldn’t do.

Um, and. You know, now you’re, you’re able to go off on your own and feel a little bit more confident in that. And I think that’s, that’s an important aspect of all of this too, is, is exposing yourself to new, uh, new activities and new options, um, you know, for, for those people who’ve never hunted or fished or, uh, you know, done any of those kinds of activities before,

Ryan Gascon: right?[00:40:00]

Yeah. And I refer to them as new outlets. Resources, personal resources, you know, and a lot of, a lot of the hunters too, you know, depending on their experience of something they really want to do. Now they have the gear, they have enough knowledge, sometimes enough knowledge to be a little dangerous at first.

Um, but they like to get their families involved and a lot of guys get their kids involved first, and then they, they master their craft with their kids because then that’s a whole nother focus and it’s something that’s really meaningful to them. So their focus is even stronger, but there’s so much more to it when they leave, because once they get to experience whichever act or.

that we provide. Like people think hunting is just a month a year. But you could go scout, you can go learn other areas. You can take your family or your buddies on a camping trip and learn a different area. You can, you know, you can do trail cam pitchers. You can start watching videos. You can do all kinds of things to integrate yourself into whatever it is that you really are passionate about.

And so we may take somebody hunting. But guess what? Last year during elk season on the biggest hunts in the United States here in Oregon, um, [00:41:00] they’re like, what are you doing? I go, those are king beliefs. What are those? Those are mushrooms we’re going to have with dinner tonight when we make steak in camp.

And they’re like, what? I picked every one I could find. And they’re like, that’s pretty cool. And pretty soon we’re walking back to the truck and they’re like, Hey, there’s two over there. Go get them. I was like, no, no, no, don’t do it like that. You got to wiggle them and then clean them up real quick. You know?

And, and so, you know, there’s so much more out there that they get than just the hunt. The hunt is obviously the mission. The goal is to harvest an animal, but it’s not

Scott DeLuzio: necessary. Sure. Yeah. And, and, uh, another part of it that you mentioned there that I didn’t even really think about is when, you know, the guys get back to their families and maybe they take their kids hunting and they’re, they’re honing their skills through the hunts that they do with their kids.

Um, one of the things that I found in teaching other people, um, doesn’t matter what it is that I’m teaching. I’ve always found that my understanding of whatever that subject is gets enhanced. [00:42:00] So much just because I’m there teaching somebody else how to do fill in the blank, whatever it is. Um, my understanding of it gets better because those people start asking me questions and then I have to kind of figure out those questions that maybe I hadn’t even thought of before.

And now I have, um, you know, a deeper understanding of whatever that topic is. And so, yeah, taking, taking out other people, taking your kids out. Um, You know, you know, their limitations and, you know, little, little kids may not be able to, you know, hike for four or five, six miles. Okay, cool. So let’s do a nice short, you know, uh, you know, hunt and, um, you know, see what we get.

If we get something great, if we don’t, okay, well. But, um, you can, you can take them out and you learn by teaching them. Um, and I think that that will just enhance your abilities, right? Oh, a

Ryan Gascon: hundred percent. You know, and the other thing we do is, um, we have Q and a, every time we’re back at camp [00:43:00] or every time we’re in the truck traveling, I mean, we may travel an hour to get to one spot just for the morning, we may go four hours, hit 15 different spots, but it’s always Q and a, there’s always questions and there’s always answers that are given.

And then at night at dinnertime, it’s like, okay, what’d we learn today? And then we start up and the questions start. And once again, that really gets them into the focus because I don’t want anyone to do anything my way. I’m just giving you a resource that works for me. So there’s a chance to get work for you.

If you do it and it doesn’t work for you, stick with it, but tweak it to caters to your needs and you’ll be successful. I think in anything you do in life, if you didn’t learn from, learn something from everybody, the more you learn, the more successful person you’ll be with whatever you do. That’s and, and, and they need to know there’s all these resources out

Scott DeLuzio: there, right?

And yeah. And, and that I think is just going to help not only yourself, but it’ll help help the other people around you as well. It’s just, you know, everyone is helping, uh, each other out and, and everyone gets better that way. Um, we’re [00:44:00] gonna cut to another quick commercial break here. Uh, so stay tuned. So, Ryan, uh, it’s been.

A pleasure having you on the show, uh, chatting about the stuff that you guys do at High Timber Dreams and, um, and the, the work that you’re doing to help out veterans, first responders, active duty, even, even youth, uh, through these programs that you have. Uh, I’m sure there’s some people who have been listening to this episode, watching, uh, you know, watching along at home.

And, um, they’re interested in finding out more information about. How to get involved with this. So where can people go to reach out to, uh, find out about getting involved in, in, you know, a future hunt or fishing trip or, you know, anything along those lines, um, or even to make a donation,

Ryan Gascon: the best place to get your knowledge about what we do and, um, clarify everything would be at high timber dreams.

com. that’s our website. We do keep it somewhat updated. We don’t hound people with emails. Our big [00:45:00] game hunts, the deer and the elk, those applications are put on our website usually about end of October, November. And then we do a selection process right at the end of the year. Um, as far as just wanting to follow along and see what we’re all about and see what we do, um, and for like turkey hunts and gear giveaways, we give away 20, 000 to 30, 000 worth of gear every year, um, on giveaways, um, is, uh, Facebook is high timber dreams dot, which is a period after the S there’s some scammer pages out there, but we are high timber dreams dot and on Instagram, we’re just high timber dreams.

Um. Instagram’s a real easy way to go because, you know, you can see everything right there and pick and choose what you want to see on our page. Um, you can make donations through our website. Uh, you can learn how to get involved in our website. You can learn more about what our mission is. We have a gallery on there where you can see photographs of what we’ve done.

Uh, we all as well have sponsors and some of the sponsor links have discount codes if somebody was [00:46:00] interested in something. And we’re going to start putting some hunting tips up there and some other activity opportunities, but not until we really… Really take off this winter is going to be a big focus for us.

Cause like I said, it’s so successful and we’re so limited right now. Cause we’ve kept it this way for a reason. We believe it’s time to. Open up more and do more networking with other, other organizations and other nonprofits and, uh, meet new people and get new sponsorships and more sponsorships and be able to help anything that helps with the emotional and mental well being.

Scott DeLuzio: Yeah, that’s great. Um, and I’ll have links to all of this in the show notes for the listeners who want to, uh, follow along either on social media or. Check out the website to, you know, apply for a future hunt or something along those lines, or even to make a donation. Um, you know, these types of things aren’t cheap and, uh, you know, housing these people and, um, you know, feeding them and taking them out on these hunts, um, is, uh, you [00:47:00] know, going to need some financial support.

So anyone who is out there listening, who, uh, you know, wants to make a donation, definitely check out the website, uh, in the, in the show notes. And, um, you know, we’ll, we’ll, uh, Get you those donations, uh, you know, coming your way. Um, so Ryan, again, thank you so much for taking the time to join us. I really do appreciate you sharing everything that you guys are doing at high timber dreams.

Ryan Gascon: We appreciate it. And thank you very much.

Scott DeLuzio: Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to support the show, please check out Scott’s book, Surviving Son.

And work to help veterans in need. You can also follow the Drive On Podcast on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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