In the late 90s, as a professional turkey hunting guide, Donald Jarrett had the privilege of hunting in South Dakota with long time Mossy Oak executive Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland. During that hunt, Jarrett witnessed a passion from Cuz, and also observed his trademark of being a down-to-earth hunter that has a commitment to Mossy Oak and the outdoors lifestyle it represents. Cuz’s commitment made such an impact on Jarrett’s life that it lead him to want to share in that same passion by joining the Mossy Oak ProStaff a few years later.
Like so many people in the Mossy Oak family, hunting is a way of life for Jarrett. He learned to hunt at a young age by following along with his daddy while growing up in the middle of Georgia. Hunting has meant so much that Jarrett has raised his family in the outdoors, trying to teach them the value of hunting at a young age. Jarrett introduced his son Devereaux to hunting when he was four years old; he taught him to have fun and respect the outdoors. He recalls memories of holding Devereaux’s hand while walking to the tree stand on his first deer hunt.
“When deer hunting with him at a young age, I would only stay as long as he wanted, when he was ready to go, we called it a day. I always wanted it to be fun for him,” said Jarrett.
Another memory of Jarrett’s is after a successful turkey hunt, watching Devereaux and his younger brother Andy take turns carrying the turkey out. Memories that he will cherish for a lifetime.
Now a Sergeant in the United States Army, Jarrett's son Devereaux informed his dad that he was going to be deployed at an undisclosed time to Afghanistan to continue US Military support. When news like that is told, it comes as no surprise that all of those past memories of hunting have taken on an even bigger meaning to father and son.
“When Devereaux called me to tell me that he was going to be deployed, it was like a kick in the gut,” said Jarrett. “My mind immediately rewound to the hunt where he was four years old and I was leading him to the deer stand for the first time. I felt helpless and the instinct to step between him and imminent danger kicked in. And for the first time in my life, I realized there wasn't a thing I could do but pray for him and trust his training and trust him. I had to come to terms with the fact that he is a grown man.”
Jarrett also added that he would advise anyone who is going through the same thing to seize every opportunity that comes along to spend time with your soldier. Sit and talk things out with them and work through the anxiety together.
“One day I asked him if it bothered him and he said, ‘No Daddy, it's why I signed up.’ He didn't mean it in a cocky way, but in a confident way. I realized then that he was just doing his duty. I’m proud of him for that and I am thankful for all the young men and women who step up and shoulder the responsibility of protecting this great Country,” said Jarrett.
Our military men and women are serving our country so that we can do what we do. It's not a fair trade, but we are grateful. As Jarrett has said, love on them while you can, pray every day for them and trust that they will come back home safe.
It has been said that a parent of a soldier has it the worst of all in times such as these. However, the soldier carries the biggest burden.
“I have so much pride and have gained peace about Devereaux’s deployment, by seeing how he is handling it,” said Jarrett. “Soldiers are elite. He is the best of the best. He is an American soldier. There is none greater in my eyes.”
Mossy Oak would like to wish a safe and successful trip to Devereaux and to all of the other men and women who serve our great country.