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Wounded Warrior deer hunters in ACE Basin

            The wounded warrior deer hunt was postponed one week due to wet weather in 2015, and then was canceled outright in 2016 due to Hurricane Matthew. With no inclement weather in the forecast for October 23 and 24, the 12th annual SCI Wounded Warrior deer hunt in the ACE Basin was conducted with military precision. Hunt organizer Mark Peterson coordinates getting the hunters in touch with the properties they will be hunting, and Nemours Wildlife Foundation provides the hub for meals, safety requirements and the all important social time that allows for the swapping of hunt stories.

            Not every hunter will be able to harvest a deer or a hog, but everyone can share in the experience after the hunt. Perhaps they saw some deer movement, but had no opportunity for a sporting shot. With twenty-two properties welcoming these wounded warrior deer hunters into the ACE Basin, there is always an elevated chance for success and the Monday afternoon hunt saw five deer harvested plus one pig. The weather on Monday night was warm and included rain showers, but by early Tuesday morning the weather had changed over to clear conditions with much cooler temps, and the hunters had even more success.

            Gathering at Nemours Plantation late Tuesday morning, everyone huddles near the skinning shed to see which hunters bring back a big buck, doe or hog. Several hunters returned with more than one animal, which is an indicator of good marksmanship, and of good hunting. Cory Iddins of Maine returned from Gracefield Plantation with two bucks to his credit, accompanied by his local guide and longtime wounded warrior hunt volunteer, Pam Constantine of Walterboro. Both Iddins and Constantine feel that this hunt is helpful to all who participate in this therapeutic reconnaissance into the outdoors.

            Iddins is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, with time served in Afghanistan. “I suffered a traumatic brain injury or TBI during a parachute jump, and was medically discharged,” said Iddins. “I work in the private sector now in the IT field. I attended this same hunt two years ago and I can share that this is an amazing experience and I am glad to be back. I want to thank the Safari Club International chapter for hosting us. Everyone here is super friendly.”

            “Our hunt on Monday night was slow due to the hot weather and the rain, and while we saw a 4-point buck, I had no shot,” said Iddins. “We went to the stand at 6:30 this morning and it was daylight by 7. We saw a small doe first and then the 4-point came close by around 8 and my Remington .308 hit him hard, because I don’t think he even went ten more steps, so we didn’t have to leave the deer stand to look for the buck. Then about 8:30 an 8-point buck appeared and I sent another round out.” With two bucks on the ground they ended their hunt and returned to Nemours.

            The guides can feel some pride when their guest hunters have success, but Constantine shared that she feels a connection with them too. “It was seven years ago when a horse accident caused a spinal cord injury for me and I had to use crutches for a time. I found that state to be very depressing, and I thought about these wounded warriors overcoming their injuries, so now I can relate that much better. Now this is one of my favorite annual events to attend.” Constantine has also attended this hunt in the past as a therapy dog handler, and the tradition of therapy dogs in attendance for the wounded warrior hunt continues today.

            Jon Fox of Hoosick Falls, New York is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne who suffered neck and back injuries. Despite needing pain medication, he was able to hunt and ended up harvesting his first ever white-tailed deer. Guide Terron Roberts at Poco Sabo Plantation said their action came at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning when Fox was able to shoot a 7-point buck and a hog at about the same time. “It’s amazing that this many people come here to hunt, and we sure appreciate it,” said Fox.

 

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

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (300 Posts)

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