Conservation law enforcement hunts with Wounded Warriors

21 Jul 2010 | Pfc. Timothy L. Solano

Once an imperative skill needed to feed one’s family in the wilderness, hunting has once more found its way into society as a popular pastime among many, to include the service members of the Wounded Warrior Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Whether it’s late spring or early fall, midsummer or frosty December, it is in some way, shape or form hunting season. Regardless of hunting style, weapon of preference or walk of life, it is a common love of the sport that brings so many avid hunters together.

The seasons aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune align with not only the priorities and mission of the Conservation Law Enforcement Office, but also with the pastimes of the Marines with the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

“It’s the best experience anyone can be a part of,” said Pat O’Neal, an officer for the Camp Lejeune CLEO. “I helped organize the one last year, and the turnout was great.”

Hunts for wounded military personnel are organized similar to those of full-duty individuals, with the exception of the accommodations made especially for shooter handicaps. Whether paraplegic, deaf or confined to a wheelchair, the wounded warriors have maintained their lethality with a rifle even after combat.

“Last year I met a Marine who was in a wheelchair and fired his rifle by blowing through a tube,” said O’Neal. “He was out there hunting with everyone else, and he knew how to use that rifle as well as anyone else.”

With the success of last year’s wounded warrior hunt, O’Neal anticipates another one this coming fall in Texas.

With the potential risk of liability, it is unclear why someone would go through the trouble of organizing the hunt. O’Neal attributes his dedication to a love for Marines, the Corps and the opportunity to give back those who gave everything.

“You’ll never find another group of hunters, Marines or people like these guys,” he said. “It’s the most rewarding thing to do.”

Though some of the wounded warriors are missing limbs and have hunting experience, others are new to the hunting world and don’t know the regulations of hunting any kind of wildlife. Fortunately, the CLEO extends courses to the general public, such as the North Carolina Hunter Education program and the International Bow Education program to any interested Department of Defense personnel or dependents.

Though wounded warriors may have lost a once keen sense or entire limbs, they can easily gain a new hobby, perspective and lifestyle by hunting with one another.

For more information on upcoming Wounded Warrior hunts or general hunting registration, call 451 5226.