Inever served our country in the military.

I never had the guts to write Uncle Sam a blank check and tell him to cash it any way he sees fit.

That means, to be entirely honest, I could never fully empathize with the sacrifices our troops have made -- and are making right now -- to keep you and I safe and free.

I'm sure you know we celebrated Veterans Day earlier this week. You probably saw the ads from restaurants treating our warriors to free food. Or maybe you even took part in a ceremony. But what I bet you don't know is how the hunting community once again stepped up to honor our country's heroes.

It's more proof the state's sporting heritage is about much more than taking game or catching fish. We may not understand the full sacrifice, but we can respect it.

Last Saturday, while most folks were raking leaves or were inside watching football, a handful of local hunters left their guns at home and instead treated a group of five military men to a day of pheasant hunting.

It's the third time in as many years the Susquehanna Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever honored our veterans. They don't do it for the attention or to raise money for their group. They do it to say thanks to the folks that sacrificed their time in the woods to serve our country.

"What a beautiful day for all of us to enjoy," said David Swope, one of the five vets who participated in the hunt. "What a free gift and blessing to have people volunteering to help others. Just finding the words, one can get emotional trying to understand why volunteers would go to such lengths to give back to others. Outdoor memories that continue to touch our hearts for serving our country, is almost unheard of today."

Like I said, this is the third year in a row the group from southern York County has hosted veterans. Apparently, the volunteers helped spark a trend, because now the Game Commission has gotten involved.

This was the first year the state's wildlife agency outright promoted the idea of taking a veteran hunting. The biggest move it made was to adjust the archery deer season to keep it open through the official celebration of Veterans Day.

On Monday, our soldiers had access to just about all types of hunting, from deer, to turkeys, to bears, and even squirrels.

The Game Commission urged sportsmen to use the special day to help introduce the state's veterans to the thrills of hunting.

"This is an opportunity to do something special for the fine men and women who have served or continue to serve in America's armed forces," said Carl G. Roe, the executive director of the Game Commission. "Since that action was taken by our Board, the Game Commission is encouraging licensed hunters to serve as a volunteer guide for a veteran not only as part of the archery deer season, but for any of the lawful species that may be hunted on Veterans Day or throughout the 2012-13 seasons."

None of us could enjoy what we have without our armed forces. They sacrifice so we don't have to. The least we can do is take them into the woods with us.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fellow sportsmen leading the way.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@york