New documentary captures ‘unbreakable spirit’ of Arik Matson

Published 7:37 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

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“The Weight of the Crown,” a documentary featuring the story of former Waseca Police Officer Arik Matson, will premiere next month at movie theaters in both Owatonna and Stillwater.

The film centers around Matson’s story from the time he was shot in the head while on duty and fighting for his life in January 2020, through brain surgery, multiple hospitals and months of rehabilitation to coming back home to Freeborn and eventually hunting the King Eider, a rare sea duck in Alaska earlier this year.

Matson’s wife, Megan, said Arik was approached in 2020 by an organization called Hometown Hero Outdoors out of Stillwater about him being selected as the first recipient of their Legacy Trip, which provides distinguished veterans and first responders a once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventure of their choosing.

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She said Arik initially told them he wanted to go on a bear hunt but later decided he wanted to instead go on a hunt for King Eider with his uncle and best friend. Arik enjoyed duck hunting regularly before the shooting and said he wanted to hunt the King Eider because of how beautiful the ducks are.

HHO and several others planned the trip over the course of two years and encountered several obstacles tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group ultimately visited Alaska in January 2023, hunted in the Behring Sea off of the Aleutian Islands, and everyone on the trip found and harvested a King Eider, including Arik.

Megan said the documentary does a good job of telling the story of what happened to Arik the night of the shooting, the challenges that followed and preparing for the hunt.

Arik Matson poses for a photo with his uncle, friend Jeremy Henke, as well their guide for the hunt, a taxidermist and others from HHO and Rogue Productions. Provided

“The HHO, and the King Eider hunt they arranged, kept me motivated to recover from my injuries as fast as I could,” Arik said. “It was a dream trip, so I worked as hard as I could to be as ready as possible. Along the way, we met people that became lifelong friends. I’ll be forever grateful for what they’ve done for me and my family, and I look forward to helping other veterans and first responders accomplish their loftiest goals and experience similar thrills.”

Megan said the trip was made possible through many donations and the help of many. Donations came in though shirt sales through HHO and through donations from places such as Scheels, Strikemaster, Ahlmans and Bosch for everything from the guns and shotgun shells to the clothing. HHO paid for the plane tickets for Arik and his guests. Arik said he wanted his uncle along because the two of them had gone hunting together since he was 10 years old.

While there, the group only had a short window of four hours of sunlight each day, and ultimately hunted for four days.

While her husband was on his trip, Megan said she was also sent on a separate trip of her own for a week, which she described as “soul-fueling.”

Arik, who hasn’t yet seen the finished documentary, said he can’t wait to see how much progress he has made along his journey.

The film will start out at the Owatonna and Stillwater theaters, though if others would like to do a showing, Megan said they can reach out to her. It will also be available for download on YouTube, and they hope others will pick it up as time goes on.

The documentary will be publicized both statewide and nationwide. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to support the next HHO hunt.

The couple said they hope people will learn from the documentary that God is always working in both the high moments and low moments and that God is always in control.

“That the sun will shine on the other side of tragedy,” they said.

Arik thanked all those in the community who have supported him since he came home.

These days, he said he regularly goes to the Albert Lea Family YMCA, helps with things around the house and volunteers at B&B Cafe on Thursday mornings. He also volunteers with the Waseca Police Department, and they hope that they might be able to line up some speaking engagements about their experiences.

They are always busy with their two daughters, ages 9 and 11.

“From the depths of despair to the heights of adventure, this documentary perfectly captures Arik’s unbreakable spirit …” said Chris Tetrault, co-founder and president of Hometown Hero Outdoors. “It was HHO’s honor and privilege to be a part of telling this story — Arik is an inspiration to everyone he meets.”

The documentary was filmed and produced by Dale Mord and the team at Rogue Productions, based in St. Paul.

More information on all planned screenings is available at

To see a trailer of the film, visit