SRS hunt provides fun, healing for wounded vets

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011

NEW ELLENTON, S.C. -- On a frosty fall morning, William Word accomplished what he had waited all night to do.

"It was exciting to get that clean shot on it. Once I knew I hit it, I figured I was probably going to kill it," he said standing near his prize.

That prize was an 8-point 147-pound deer.

"Not only is it a lot of fun, but they make it really easy for us to do everything," he said of the hunt.

That's important because he was wounded in Afghanistan. He was brought to the hunt Saturday by the Augusta Warrior Project.

"I got hit by a 107 rocket, and it took my leg off. Took my leg off and messed up a whole bunch of other stuff. Brain injury, broke bones. Bad day," he remembered.

But he and dozens of other veterans, both wounded and immobile, got that chance Friday and Saturday.

"DOE, SRNS, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation all combined to make this happen," said Ed Spears, an SRNS employee who coordinated the hunt.

He says it's been happening annually since the 60s, but the hunt this year -- deep in the woods in Barnwell County on SRS property -- was extra special. They have five times the number of hunters since last year.

"That's what I feel these hunts are about -- making good memories to replace bad ones," said veteran Daniel Smith.

He was wounded over in Iraq back in 2006 when an IED exploded under his truck. He came along for the hunt Saturday, too, and after a day that produced five deer and seven hogs, that constant pain was a little more bearable for him.

"They help with small stuff. And it's the small steps that help in the recovery process," Smith said.

The deer hunt is just one of the hunts put on out at Savannah River Site. They also have a very popular turkey hunt, which happens every April.


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