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Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt @ Caldwell, NC 15-17 Nov 2012

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Wounded Warrior Deer Hunt @ Caldwell, NC 15-17 Nov 2012

Post  al k on Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:43 pm

The folks in and around the farming community of Caldwell NC (about 20 miles north of Chapel Hill) have been hosting Wounded Warriors for an annual deer hunt since 2007. I've had the honor to be their liaison with the military community for the past four years. These hunts are a lot more then "Hey, would you folks like to come up for some deer hunting this weekend?" It takes a lot of planning, coordination, hard work and expense to put on a quality hunt. The entire community pulls together to make sure their wounded and injured military guests remember the weekend as a bright spot in what is otherwise an uncertain future filled with medical appointments, evaluations and sometimes life altering decisions.

We all collect at the Caldwell Community Center where everyone is accounted for and paperwork such as license checks, liability waivers and landowner permission slips.

Next comes introductions of hunters and landowners / guides, overview and grounds rules for the hunt and a safety briefing. You will notice the military style trophy case in the background - over the years units and individuals who have participated in the hunts have given the Caldwell Hunting Club several tokens of appreciation. These items are proudly displayed at the Caldwell Community Center for all to see. This year we hosted 19 hunters (17 Wounded Warriors and 2 teenage daughters). The hunt itself runs from noon Thursday to noon Saturday - basically 2 evening hunts and 2 morning hunts.

Once everyone was paired up with a landowner / guide and placed on strategically located stands I went to a stand which was not spoken for and low and behold this old Vietnam Vet showed the younger folks how it is done by putting the first deer on the sign-in sheet. Not a real big buck but these farmers look at every deer as an eating machine that is competing for their hard earned dollars. It is not unusual to walk around a soybean or corn field and see a definite browse line which extends 30-40 yards around the entire field. Most hunters will tell you the fun ends and the work begins once you pull the trigger. Not so on this hunt. Once you have a deer down you merely call your landowner / guide and he comes to load it into his truck. If the deer runs off after the shot they all have huge flashlights and are very adapt at locating dead deer. In my case the deer went down like it had been pole axed - dead before it hit the ground.

Several more deer came in the first evening, including this nice buck. Lot's of back slapping, story telling and even a few tall tales about the one that jumped just before the shot.

We were spoiled because as soon as the deer was checked in one of the community volunteers grabbed it and soon had it quartered up and ready for the cooler. These boys were fast and did a great job.

After all the deer were processed on the first evening we went back to the community center where most of the community were assembled to meet us. This is a very patriotic community which is not embarrassed to start their meetings with a pledge of allegiance to the flag, followed by a very talented local lady singing the national anthem. We once again let everyone know our hometowns and a little bit about ourselves. One of our hunters had participated in the Spring 2012 Turkey Hunt and following the hunt had presented the community with a folded flag which had flown over his outpost in Afghanistan - here we see him explaining the significance and circumstances of that flag to the gathered community members.

We normally reserve our offering of awards and gifts for the end of the hunt but because we had so many of the community assembled we made most of our presentations the first evening. Ft Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion sent a nicely framed certificate of appreciation which will be proudly displayed in a prominent spot. One of our hunters, a member of the North Carolina National Guard who was injured while deployed to Afghanistan, brought a unique National Guard award which will go in the trophy case.

All that cool air, excitement of the hunt and meeting of new friends gave us all a hearty appetite. While we were out on our deer stands several members of the community were back at the community center barbequing a whole pig with all the fixings. The local FFA (Future Farmers of America) did a great job of serving it up and catering to our every needs. Like I said, everyone in the community gets involved.

Next morning after an early (0500) breakfast we were back in our stands. You get spoiled when someone rides out on a golf cart to pick up your deer.

We about doubled our tally from the night before - but the best is yet to come. With only two more scheduled sits in stands before the end of the hunt some of our hunters were getting anxious. We tried to move them around to the "hot" stands but you also have to realize a stand that is "hot" has also probably had most of it's deer shot already or at the very least put on high alert that moving during daylight hours is hazardous to their health.

Not to fear - how about this for a truckload of deer? The best part is three of them were shot by an eleven year old daughter of one of our Wounded Warriors.

Bet she has a story to tell on Monday when she returns to school.

Our resident scribe, himself a Vietnam Vet, was kept busy logging in deer Friday evening.

How about this monster? It was shot by one of our guides and not one of our hunters. As the story goes, the guide placed our hunter in a stand overlooking an overgrown clear cut. The guide went to another nearby stand and when our hunter shot a spike buck this monster jumped "out of nowhere" and ran right in front of the guide. We would all like to have that kind of luck.

After another early breakfast we were in our stands for the last time. Lady luck played out for this Wounded Warrior and ran out for this unlucky doe. The farmers were happy because that doe was a 100 bushel a year eating machine and Lord only knows how many fawns she would have had.

How about some last minute luck. This fellow was batting zero in three sits on stand. He was waiting for this ten point which turned out to be the biggest buck harvested by a Wounded Warrior. It will receive a full shoulder mount courtesy of a local taxidermist who generously supports the Wounded Warrior Hunts in this fashion each year.

Here is a great mainframe eight point killed by one of the volunteer skinners who sat in a nearby patch of woods while waiting for the bulk of the Wounded Warriors to come in with their deer.

It's all over but the saying of a few words and getting everyone bunched up for a group photo.

Are we happy -Yes. Did we forget our troubles for a while - Yes. Are we tired - I'm not sure about the rest of them but I was beginning to feel a wee bit beat.

Wait, Wait, Wait! We had a couple hunters who were not able to turn opportunity into a deer on the ground. Through the generosity of a few landowners / guides they and a couple of other diehard Wounded Warriors stayed for more hunting Saturday afternoon. Here you see a 17 year old daughter and her proud daddy who teamed up to knock down doubles. Three other deer were taken as well which meant everyone of our hunters scored, several more then once. We brought 32 deer to the skinning shed. The farmers are already calculating how many more bushels of grain they can grow next year.

Channel 11 (ABC News) was out to do a story about the hunt. They only stayed around for the opening ceremonies. I was interviewed and they took a lot of footage. The story ended up looking like this http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/video?id=8888512&pid=§ion=null

I do want to go on record that, contrary to what the TV link said, this was not about me, it is about our Wounded Warriors and also about the Caldwell Community who all come together for a great weekend. Can't say enough good things about Earl Brown, Tommy Hamlin, Stephanie Brown, Ralph Colman, Lee Miller, the Parker brothers and too many other folks to name. The entire community goes out of their way each year to make us feel special. These events don't just happen - they take a lot of hard work. The Caldwell Community can puff out their chest with pride because THEY DID GOOD!! (You may be wondering why they did not appear on air - Tried to get them to do so, but they all preferred to remain in the background)

al k
Avid Angler

Join date : 2010-10-26
Location : Fayetteville NC

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