Saying that he was looking to use his newfound free time since retiring from the Navy in a meaningful way to benefit not only our beloved public lands but also the military community, Washington State Armed Forces Initiative Liaison Shawn McCarthy has done just that.
Back in January of this year, when he took an Active-Duty member to the foothills of the eastern Cascades on their first shed hunt, Shawn referred to the first song he heard of the year, Alice In Chains “No Excuses”, as the theme for Washington AFI’s plan for 2023. Since then, he and his AFI board have been making a resounding impact on their fellow servicemen and women in the Evergreen State, having No Excuses not to! Wanting to represent the AFI on a grander scale; he, and fellow service member John Torres (USMC Veteran and Montana resident), paired up to compete in BHA’s Wild Game Cookoff during Rendezvous in Missoula, with a delicious, seared bobcat with huckleberry chimichurri as their main dish.
Looking to bridge the knowledge gap so many new folks are faced with that become stationed in the Pacific Northwest during their service, WA AFI has hosted multiple pint nights where they hold Washington themed trivia games, introductory class on lowland lakes trout fishing, a flyfishing 101 field event, intro to Washington turkey hunting with NWTF, suburban scouting fundamentals at University of Washington’s Eatonville Pack Forest, and intro to backcountry scouting in the Norse Peak Wilderness with Mount Rainier as their backdrop. Partnering up with the state chapter of BHA, they’ve assisted in the popular Access Freedom 3D archery shoot in Belfair as well as BHA’s booth at the Northwest Mountain Challenge at Steven’s Pass.
Further aligning with WA BHA’s Boots on Ground initiative for improvement of public lands and waters, he and his AFI team took on the task of finding the public land shooting pit in the worst condition in the western half of the state and clean it up. They settled on the infamous triangle pit near Olympia, hosting WA AFI’s second annual “Garbage and Grouse Roundup” in the scenic Capitol State Forest. With the help of 34 other volunteers from a local National Guard unit, Veterans, Active-Duty folks, BHA members, and locals to the area, they hauled out four trailers overflowing with garbage from just one location, making a huge difference. Following the cleanup, volunteers were well fed by other groups Trash No Land and WAGuns.org. Closing the event, Shawn and WA DNR gave a class on various Washington grouse species biology and habitat. The day culminated with him taking a handful of new grouse hunters into the forest looking for “Ruffies”.
Currently living in the Kitsap area of the Puget Sound, Shawn works as the Fire Control Lead for Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Keyport, maintaining, operating, and testing future technologies for the US Navy’s endeavor for undersea dominance. And when Shawn isn’t busy as an AFI Liaison, he spends time with his wife, 2 daughters, and three Labradors having fun outdoors, making up for all the time he was gone during a 24-year Naval career.
Shawn embodies the military’s stance on placing service above self through his actions in developing tomorrow’s conservation leaders in the Armed Forces Initiative. BHA is better for having him and others like him at the helm with AFI.