Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt this weekend - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Wounded Warrior Turkey Hunt this weekend

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BIGGERS, AR (KAIT) – Veterans from several states descended on Region 8 this weekend for a special turkey hunt being put on by the Wounded Warrior Project and Randolph County VFW. According to John Phillips, a volunteer organizer for the event, several donations have been made to give injured war veterans another chance at the lifestyle they once knew before war.

"We have several who have prosthetics. Some are in wheelchairs. These fellows, before they were deployed overseas to fight for this country, they were outdoor people. They loved the outdoors and hunting. Once they became wounded and disabled, they had to give some of that up," said Phillips, who said the hunt is one of a kind in Arkansas.

Phillips said veterans checked in Friday afternoon for the special hunt, and entertainment will be provided Friday and Saturday nights. Phillips, who is not a veteran, said he's volunteering for a good cause.

"We want them to be comfortable and enjoy the hunt. We want it to be a life memory that they can live with for a long time," said Phillips. "(We want to) let them get back to what they loved before they were deployed."

"We like to say that we are challenging them in the outdoors to heal from within," said Phillips.

Larry Kirk, who runs the Five Rivers Sports Lodge in Biggers, said he's happy to offer his facility to veterans. Kirk served in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1965, landing in Vietnam. Kirk said his heart goes out to veterans, young and old.

"They're coming in from Arkansas, Tennessee, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri and Florida," said Kirk. "Some of them are not physically able to get to the woods themselves, and we're going to do everything we can to make this a good experience for them."

Kirk said the veterans will hunt on more than 2,000 acres of land on properties owned by James Edington, retired Col. Loftos Johnson, Larry Rogers, Robert Brooks and Ernest Ivy.

Aside from physical injuries, some of the veterans are suffering from mental illnesses, such as post traumatic stress disorder. Kirk hopes the turkey hunt provides relief.

"Some of them are severely wounded. Some of them are walking wounded and all of them will have Purple Hearts," said Kirk. "They're ranging anywhere from 65 years old down to the Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans."

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, click here.

Kirk said many politicians will be in attendance for a large banquet dinner Saturday night, and three outdoor companies will film the weekend hunt. Wounded veterans will hunt with trained professionals, along with the Arkansas Wildlife Federation.

Kirk said local businesses have donated equipment and sports gear for the weekend event. Other businesses donated raffle items and other prizes.

Kirk and Phillips say veterans will wake up early Saturday morning to prepare for the hunt.

"We'll be marking those areas and making sure that we got all of that ready to go. We'll be leaving the lodge at about 2:00-3:00 in the morning to transport some of these people all the way over to the Spring River, which is about a two hour setup," said Phillips. "Wheel chairs are kind of shiny and the turkey will see that from miles away, so we have to close those guys in blinds."

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