Dozens of vets, wounded warriors bag deer in special Jackson hunt

Cowden Plantation

Cowden Plantation in Jackson accomodates two hunts for veterans each year. (WRDW-TV / Jan. 2, 2012)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, Dec. 30, 2011

JACKSON, S.C. -- It took a little hunting for Trey Bruner, but he followed blood drop after blood drop until he found his prize -- a 60-pound doe.

"Low and behold, five does came out, and I believe I missed the first doe, and the second doe we harvested, and we were able to take home some meat," he said.

Bruner's in the South Carolina Army National Guard, and he's a counter-drug helicopter pilot. He was just one of the many vets and wounded warriors in Jackson for the hunt.

"We are associated through the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources' Take One, Make One program," said Hampton Caughman, who helped set up the event.

The event is one of dozens of hunts around the state each year. They're all inspired by his son who was an avid hunter. Army Specialist Thomas Caughman was killed in Baghdad in 2004, after his up-armored high-mobility-multi-purpose wheeled vehicle suffered rocket-propelled grenade hits and small arms fire.

"He left us a letter that was returned to us in his personal belongings, and one of the lines was, 'Carry on with your lives and don't ever forget you live in a country that so many people have sacrificed for,'" said his father.

Kenny Jarrett is a rifle maker who owns the large piece of land in Aiken County and was happy to lend it for this special hunt.

"If you're down here with us, you'll see the laughing and the joking and the badgering," Jarrett said.

He says the reward for him is seeing the vets come back with their prizes.

"Pretty much, we went out and had a pretty good time today," said SFC Charles L. Williams.

SFC Williams of Fort Gordon was happy, too. Coming back from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, his injuries were less visible.

"Not actually wounded physically, but I had some mental issues going on," he said.

But after bagging his deer today, those injuries were the last thing on his mind.

"It's just something that gives you a peacful mind, a peaceful state," he said.

Cowden Plantation in Jackson accomodates two of these hunts a year. The participants are drawn from a hat because they get so many applicants. There were people from all over the area, and many were from even farther.

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