Shots were firing and birds were falling. That was the scene at the Inaugural Wounded Warrior Dove Hunt at the Charleston District’s Cooper River Rediversion Project where five of our nation’s heroes gathered for a day of fellowship and to test their hunting skills.
A chance of thunderstorms diminished the size of the group, but that left more doves for each Warrior. After receiving a greeting from Lt. Col. Matthew Luzzatto, Charleston District commander, and a safety briefing from Sgt. Thomas Spann, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, the Warriors went over the plan. Sam Chappelear, SCDNR wildlife biologist, gave an overview of the field and Tim Fulmer, SCDNR wildlife technician, led the hunters to several marked locations. In the week leading up to the event, nearly 500 hunters in the area had taken more than 2,000 birds in their hunts.
The scene was quiet while the Warriors readied themselves in their positions. When a train rumbled down the nearby tracks and let off a warning whistle, doves took flight. Being trained marksmen from their days in military service, two Warriors nearly took their limit and each Warrior went home with birds.
SCDNR dove hunting regulations allow an individual hunter to take up to 15 doves in a day on specified Wildlife Management Areas. Under a long-term cooperative agreement, more than 95 percent of the District’s 2,500 acre CRRP property is managed as a state Wildlife Management Area by SCDNR. There are more than 90 acres of dove fields in this area, which has received perennial number one rankings for WMA dove hunting in South Carolina.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout of this event,” said Kate Brett, Wounded Warrior Project outreach coordinator. “The Warriors really appreciate the opportunities and, for some, these events are their first time back into the field since their injuries.”
At the end of the day, each of the Warriors left happy and commented that it was the best dove field they had ever seen or heard of. They were very appreciative of the opportunity and vowed to return next year. In the short period they were together, you could see the immediate camaraderie.
“It was our pleasure and honor to give back to these Warriors who have sacrificed so much for our country,” said Luzzatto. “We will work closely with our SCDNR partners to make this an annual event for even more Warriors in the future.”
The Wounded Warrior Dove Hunt was the second event put on this year at the CRRP for Wounded Warriors after a highly-successful fishing tournament held in February. Continuing to provide high-quality experiences for some of our nation’s heroes is a goal for the Charleston District in the next year.