Arsenal conducts Wounded Warrior special deer hunt
December 13, 2010
The Pine Bluff Arsenal sponsored a Wounded Warrior special deer hunt Nov. 29 through Dec. 1. I personally want to thank Col. Franz Amann, Arsenal commander, Mike McCormack, DPW director, and all the others who made sure that all the "T's" were crossed and all the "I's" were dotted, so that this hunt could and would go smoothly.
The two Warriors who were chosen for this year's hunt were Sgt. Stephen Lunt and Sgt. Ryan Bonds, both serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, attached to the Wounded Warrior Regiment out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. Southwest Airlines compensated roundtrip airfare for both of these Marines. They were escorted by Chris Clem with an organization called Hunts for Heroes, who was my point of contact in finding participants for this year's hunt.
Lunt and Bond flew into Little Rock Sunday evening. I was capable of reading their thoughts by the smiles they wore from the anticipation of being able to hunt. As we traveled to the Arsenal, I learned that both of the guys were hunters prior to joining the Marine Corps, and I heard many stories that sounded familiar to the ones that I had experienced in growing up around good friends and our deer camps.
On Monday at 4:30am, Clay Ferrell arrived with an ice chest full of groceries and his apron and prepared a breakfast that was unreal. Once the bellies of Lunt and Bonds were filled, Jerry West, with PBA Fire and Emergency Services volunteered his services to make sure that the Marines could find the perfect deer stands. Monday was rough, and the weather did not want to cooperate with us. However, these two guys came to hunt and endured. I got a call Monday at 10:30 am with the news that Lunt had shot a coyote and that a cup of coffee sounded good. We all met at the PBA fire station and not only enjoyed a hot cup of coffee but a warm bowl of soup that the firefighters had prepared.
Amann also stopped by and ate lunch with us. He presented both of the Wounded Warriors with a Commander's coin which, during later conversations I would find out, really made a positive impact on them. They both expressed that we were lucky at PBA to have a Commander that was so approachable and normal just like them. After lunch was over, it was back out into the rain for the evening hunt. Lunt and Bonds had the opportunity to really get to know the firemen after supper Monday night during Monday night football. Fellowship was good and friendships were made.
Tuesday morning started off a lot like Monday. Clay and his cute apron cooked breakfast and the hunters left with West for the stands. The rain let up but the winds should have had a name associated with them. Again these guys came to hunt and they endured. They saw a small buck and small doe Tuesday morning. I again got a call and was told another cup of coffee sounded good. I think this was secret for, I AM HUNGRY! After getting a full belly, we headed out for a little spot and stalking. Both of these guys harvested a doe around 2 pm.
After tagging their game, it was off to the stands for Lunt and Bonds for the evening hunt. The rest of us headed to the Game Check Station for deer processing. While processing the two doe, I got the good news that there would be a 5 point joining the party that Sgt Bonds had been lucky enough to harvest. When the deer processing was complete and supper provided by the fire station had found its resting place, Lunt blessed me and the fire fighters with some guitar playing and a great song. I am trying to figure out who was supposed to be entertaining who.
Wednesday morning started off once again with Clay and a cute apron. The weather finally began to cooperate with us and at 8 a.m. a nice seven-point buck with about 16 inches spread walked up within 15 steps of Lunt. The shotgun that Lunt was using belongs to West and, wouldn't you know it, Jerry provided Lunt with dud shells that would not fire. Lunt made three attempts to make the gun fire but West's "special shells" will keep this buck around for another year. Thanks Jerry! The rest of us appreciate your efforts.
As I dropped the Marines off at the Little Rock airport Wednesday evening it was bittersweet. I was so tired I couldn't think straight but I already had begun to miss these guys. I know that the trauma that these guys have faced during war time will always be with them. It is something that will never be erased from their memory. However, I am completely confident that on the backside of that memory will be a good memory that was made at the Pine Bluff Arsenal. Thank you Lunt and Bonds. Your service is greatly appreciated.