The ninth annual Wounded Warrior deer hunt put on by the Lowcountry Chapter of Safari Club International took place on November 4 and 5. The hunt group was a little bit smaller this year, and thus the total harvest was down slightly too, but the camaraderie among these veterans is special to see. They warriors were joined by some disabled hunters and a few special needs youth hunters, who fanned out across the plantation belt of the ACE Basin to hunt white-tailed deer.
|Guide Manning Asnip, Gary Grant and Steven Diaz|
The hunt begins with a gathering at Nemours Plantation along the Combahee River on Monday for a spiritual message and a catered meal. With most of the Warriors coming from nearby Parris Island, the marines also send a color guard and a brass quintet. When the flag was presented at lunch, the band played the National Anthem, setting the tone for two days of hunting and outdoor enjoyment.
Wounded Warrior Steven Diaz came from Columbia for the hunt, and he ended up harvesting his first ever buck on Tuesday morning. Diaz is in the 9th Engineering Support Battalion, and was wounded in Iraq on March 26, 2005 during an IED explosion that caused vision loss in his right eye. “This is my third time ever deer hunting and I’m so excited to harvest an 8-point buck!” said Diaz.
“During the Monday night hunt, I saw plenty of deer but was waiting on a bigger buck to show up before firing,” said Diaz. “The next morning I went to my deer stand at 5:45 a.m. and it was 40-degrees out. I didn’t see anything until 7:30 when the 8-pointer came out at 75-yards.” The marine’s .243-rifle did the rest of the job from there and guide Manning Asnip declares – The Marines are great marksmen!
“Overall, this deer hunt felt very therapeutic to me,” said Diaz. “This type of opportunity helps to relieve post traumatic stress syndrome, and it can give warriors a sense of belonging. Just look at me, I have a new hobby now in deer hunting, and we are all looking for a way to transition from our mission as an active duty member, and into the rest of our lives.” Diaz works with a group called Hidden Wounds in Columbia that counsels veterans about how to succeed in life.
Hunting on the same property as Diaz was Cary Grant from Six Mile who came to the hunt with the S.C. Disabled Sportsmen organization. “I lost my left leg back in 1984 in a motorcycle accident, but I still like to go deer hunting,” said Grant. “I passed up ten small deer on Sunday night, but Monday morning was a different story. A big 9-point buck came out to a green food plot and I’m thankful that my .300 WSM bullet was accurate.”
Grant may have tagged the biggest buck of the hunt, and the property that allowed he and Diaz to visit request that they remain anonymous. Many of the plantations that participate in this hunt are glad to embrace our veterans and are not looking for any recognition at all. Ernie Wiggers from Nemours Plantation always remarks that this hunt is for the warriors but that it is not possible without the private landowners of the ACE Basin.
To view my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.