By Kevin Jackson (AMC)April 24, 2014
McALESTER, Okla. -- The fourth time is a charm. At least it was for one determined Wounded Warrior who finally bagged a wild turkey.
"I'm overly excited," said Master Sgt. Terry Watson, who shot his bird at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant here as part of the Wounded Warriors Turkey Hunt April 18. "It took about an hour for my heart rate to come down."
He bagged the 22-pound bird with a 10-and-a-half-inch beard and one-inch spurs within about one hour after settling into his blind at the slate area.
Watson arrived at the blind before daybreak, but it wasn't until after daylight that he heard some turkeys gobbling in the trees nearby. Finally, around 7 a.m. two hens and a tom landed 25 yards away. Watson wasted little time, firing when the tom made its move toward the decoy.
"I knocked him down and then he jumped up and ran across the road," he said. "I killed a tree limb between him and me, and then I pumped another shot into him from about 35 yards.
"I'm tickled to death. Everybody seems to think this is a big bird. This is the first turkey that I've ever shot."
The Waco, Texas native said he plans to mount the tail fan, beard and spurs, along with the spent 12-gauge shotgun shell casing. He also took a large turkey breast and some good memories home with him.
"I came down here with the expectation to have a great time," the lifelong hunter said. "They've got us in cabins on the far side of the lake. Those cabins are fantastic. This has just been great."
Watson said it was the third time that he participated in a Wounded Warrior hunt. The other two were at Copper Breaks State Park in Quanah, Texas, where he bagged two bucks this past January. He also attended a turkey hunt there just two weeks before coming to MCAAP.
"These [Wounded] Warrior hunts are probably the best kept secret for Soldiers," the 38-year Army veteran said. "What a great way to get back out."
"For some of the guys who have been shell-shocked or who have [post-traumatic stress disorder] real bad, this is a great way to get back out, get used to [the noise] and put it in a positive way where it can clear out their head. They will see the noise isn't bad and it's something really beneficial."
Watson said he expects to be released from the Warrior Transition Unit the end of November and to retire shortly thereafter. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve's 75th Training Command, Southern Division, Ellington Joint Reserve Base, Houston, when he was mobilized in January 2003. He was planning to leave extended active duty and retire in 2012 when the full extent of his injuries sustained in Afghanistan revealed at a pre-retirement physical forced him to enter the WTU in May 2013 for physical rehabilitation.
Watson was one of two Soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Reynolds Army Community Hospital, Fort Sill, Okla., to participate in the hunting and fishing trip.
Staff Sgt. Jacqueline Hull bagged a 21-pound turkey with a 10-and-three-quarter-inch beard and one-inch spurs April 19.
The Wounded Warriors also had an opportunity to do some fishing. Watson said he reeled in at least 20 bass, but it was Hull who recorded the largest catch of the weekend -- a seven-pound bass -- just hours after bagging a turkey.
The April 18-19 hunt was the first of the spring turkey season here. MCAAP's Land Management Office and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will welcome up to 120 hunters who were issued licenses over the three consecutive weekends, according to Bill Starry, LMO chief.
This was the fourth year the LMO and ODWC have teamed up to host Wounded Warriors for a turkey hunt at MCAAP. The turkey hunt was cancelled last spring because of sequestration.
"It was an honor to host two of Fort Sill's Wounded Warriors for turkey hunting and fishing," said Robert Byrd, chief of command initiatives group and the event organizer.
"They had a great time and that was in no small part because of the support we received from the Fort Sill WTU, the LMO, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and our partners at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation."
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is the Department of Defense's premier bomb and warhead loading facility, and is one of 14 industrial facilities in the Joint Munitions Command. It is vital to ammunition stockpile management and delivery to the joint warfighter for training and combat operations.