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Tenth Year for Wounded Warrior Deer hunt in ACE Basin

Clarendon Guide Shawn Moss and Disable Hunter Fred Specht.

Clarendon Guide Shawn Moss and Disable Hunter Fred Specht.

Deer hunting season fervor reaches new heights in October with the arrival of cooler weather and the rut. It’s no coincidence that the annual Wounded Warrior and Wheelchair Deer Hunt is scheduled during this time of peak whitetail activity so that the participants have the best chance for success. One U.S. serviceman shot an 8-point buck during his first ever deer hunt, while a total of sixty hunters were able to spend time among the bountiful natural resources found in the ACE Basin.

The hunt schedule began with a patriotic flag-waving parade for a convoy of wounded warriors down the oak avenue at Nemours Plantation at 11 a.m. on Monday, October 27. The Nemours property is home to a Wildlife Foundation whose mission includes hosting this special deer hunt, acting as the hub before a network of ACE Basin properties serve as the spokes where the invited guests can go hunting. A catered lunch and pairing each hunter with a local hunting guide are the next order of business.

Several speakers followed the invocation but hunt founder Mark Peterson and wife Holly were singled out for special recognition. Peterson is a member of the Lowcountry Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI) and has been the driving force behind the hunt during its entire ten-year tenure. Having been involved with the hunt as a guide, a volunteer and a member of the media I can share that Peterson has been hands on with every facet of the event.

If ice and soda were lacking for meal time, it was Peterson out soliciting grocery stores and business owners to pitch in. Helping our wounded warriors during their time of recuperation is a worthy cause, and others are quick to pitch in, but it is Peterson who raised awareness whenever and wherever it was required. Mark and Holly were each presented a plaque from SCI and also a framed photo collage covering the history of the event.

A Marine color guard from Parris Island presented the flags while a Marine quintet played the national anthem, and everyone was ready to get in a deer stand early on that Monday afternoon. In the end there was 24 deer and 2 hogs harvested by the hunters, but they each witnessed a piece of the scenic wonder of the ACE Basin as they traveled to private lands to hunt. One of the hallmarks of this event each year is the generosity of the plantations to allow these hunters access to properties that are teeming with wildlife.

Wounded Warrior Eric Forgacs is stationed in Chesapeake, Virginia and had come to join in this hunt for the first time. Each year has seen both repeat guests and first-timers but Forgacs was unique in that he had never been deer hunting. Forgacs served in both Iraq and Afghanistan for several tours up until 2011, and he is still serving today in a Wounded Warrior Battalion. Mulling over ten years of this hunt in my memory, it doesn’t get any better than having a serviceman like Forgacs attend, because this hunt serves to offer him appreciation for his service and a real chance for a hunting dream come true.

Forgacs drew Brewton Plantation in Yemassee as his hunting property and long time manager Russell Mixson served as his hunting guide. That Monday evening Forgacs was able to harvest a doe while in the stand with Mixson, but the best was yet to come. All of the hunters still hunt on Monday afternoon, then spend the night and still hunt again the next morning. On Tuesday morning Forgacs placed his .708-rifle scope on an 8-point buck and his aim was true from 60-yards, giving him his first ever buck harvest. Forgacs donated the meat from the 170-pound deer to local charity and he took the rack in order to make a European mount to remember his visit to the Lowcountry.

Also on Tuesday morning a guest from the S.C. Disabled Hunters organization found success while hunting at Clarendon Plantation. Hunter Fred Specht is an older veteran but he was participating in his first Wounded Warrior deer hunt. Hunting guide Shawn Moss put him in a ground blind and at 7:35 a.m. Specht made a 75-yard shot to drop a fine 8-point buck. Specht reported seeing no does, but he saw lots of other wildlife there and that the visit to Clarendon Plantation was a grand experience.

From volunteers to sponsors to landowners and guides it takes a lot of cooperation for the Wounded Warrior deer hunt to occur each year. This tenth year was no different from the rest when the hunters began to show back up at Nemours for lunch on Tuesday and everyone could see the smiles on the faces of successful hunters. Not everyone bags a deer, but they all share in the fellowship. Thanks to ten years of experience a pre-arranged cooler full of processed venison leaves with each hunter. Besides the meat, hopes are high that the time spent outdoors and the memories from the ACE Basin will help sustain and bring balance to the lives of these servicemen.

 

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (385 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com