Southlands Plantation, near Bainbridge, GA, was the venue for the Third Red Hills Wounded Warrior hunt, April 5-7.  Disabled veterans arrived from several states for some premier turkey hunting as well as delicious food and southern hospitality.  Large tents were scattered about the spacious Southlands lawn for dining and socializing throughout the weekend.

 

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Friends, neighbors and supporters gathered on Friday evening to enjoy the wonderful seafood banquet and to honor the group of servicemen for their extreme sacrifices for the freedom of our country.

 

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Southland’s Plantation, formerly known as International Paper Co., is 6,000 acres of picturesque wildlife habitat.  There is a wide variety of plant and animal life thriving on this south Georgia land.

 

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I spotted several bald eagles including this one perched in a tall pine.

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This armadillo scurried right up to my hunter and I while we were turkey hunting.

 

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I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of this amazing tadpole pod. There were literally millions wiggling around in several puddles.

 

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Events such as the Red Hills Wounded Warrior Hunt help enable severely injured vets participate in outdoor activities which they might otherwise not have an opportunity to do. Hunting and the outdoors is a tonic for both mind and body. I spent an afternoon with this soldier who is miraculously able to once more walk the woods following 18 months in Walter Reed Hospital after stepping on a landmine.

 

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The first bird in camp always causes quite a stir. This lucky hunter had the Mossy Oak camera with him to capture his hunt. This fine gobbler sported an 11-1/2 inch beard.

 

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Wounded Warrior, Jeremy Hardy, and I enjoyed a successful morning hunt. Jeremy is a southpaw but he made a great shot off his right hand.  This fine gobbler had an 11-inch beard and very unusual barred tail feathers.

 

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Here is a closer look at the tail feathers that have barring like wing feathers. Scott Vance, NWTF Biologist, tells me this is a genetic trait found in a few scattered areas.

 

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Douglas Kinard, Jeremy Hardy and Jeff Casper, all have reason to smile. Each one got a trophy tom and it was the first turkey ever for 2 of the wounded warriors. Notice that all of the gobblers show traces of the distinctive tail feathers.

 

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Tape measures and scales were pulled out as more hunters returned from the field with turkeys and everyone speculated on the heaviest bird and the longest beard and spurs.

 

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Each bird was measured, weighed and identified with a crowd of onlookers.

 

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This talented gymnast practiced her backflips while waiting for more hunters to return from the morning hunt.

 

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Everyone cheered when Pete Herrick  successful took  2 large gobblers from his motorized wheelchair. Pete and all the rest of us enjoyed getting out in  warm sunshine to smell the sweet fresh air.

 

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Mossy Oak furnished each hunter with a camo outfit. The National Wild Turkey Federation gave the hunters an NWTF cap and pocket knife. Brossie Turkey Calls gifted everyone with a field bag and mouth calls. These are but a few of the generous supporters that help make the Red Hills hunt possible.

 

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I offer a huge tip of my camo cap to Walter & Phyllis Hatchett and Brian Proctor for the long hours and hard work required to pull off an event such as this. Local landowners and hunters volunteered their weekend to guide, cook, and assist in many ways. There were 15 wounded warrior hunters and 13 excellent mature gobblers taken. Lives can be changed at gatherings such as this and often it is the volunteers who experience the wonder of giving to those that have already gave.

 

 

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