Special Hunting Preserve Created
From stands on half a dozen hilltops north of Robbins, hunters wait for deer.
These are not ordinary tree stands, and these are not ordinary hunters. Sharp of eye but not fleet of foot, they are wounded warriors enabled at last to return to the hunt thanks to the generosity of one man and the help of many.
Bill Crisp and his partner, Terry Crews, brought American Growler to Robbins in 2006, and the company prospered. Its Jeep-like vehicles passed all tests and are rolling off the Green Street factory floor headed for deployment in Afghanistan. They are specially sized to fit the vertical-takeoff V-22 Osprey.
In today's wars, many more are coming home wounded, casualties of advanced medical care as much as battle.
Many cannot walk without help. Many struggle to find some post in the armed services and cannot. They are forced to make a tough transition to civilian life.
Crisp wanted to do something for them. So did Crews, himself a retired Marine colonel.
Crisp bought land above Robbins off N.C. 705, and went to work on it. He turned it into a hunting preserve specially de-signed for those whose injuries in service to the nation means a lifetime of struggle.
One device American Growler builds is the Huntmaster -- a self-elevating hunting stand for the disabled. It's a cantilevered box raised by a battery-powered engine and solar-powered.
A wheelchair-bound hunter can roll in, and with the press of a button be lifted into position.
Six of them stand at sites Crisp and his crews prepared at the preserve. He and Crews threw a barbecue to welcome their first hunters.
Crisp served as part-time elevator operator, taking visitors on sample rides in the stand.
"This gives a wounded warrior a chance to hunt again," he said. "The state bought 10 of them to use across North Carolina. We secured enough private donations to match the state with another 10."
Crisp recalled one wheelchair-bound veteran getting helped into the stand. He rolled in, and then figured he was on his own,.
"Go on, get outta here," the vet told his helper, according to Crews. "I'm hunting."
The barbecue took place just as muzzle-loading season started. Crisp and Crews had some long guns ready for target practice.
"Go ahead, load 'em up," Crews said. "I've got a life-size deer target out there. Let them shoot at it from the stand."
Doug Hefner, who comes from Hickory, brought a few gifts for the first wounded warrior hunters. He had made some hand-crafted callers and passed them out to the veterans.
"I made 'em for you guys," Hefner said. "Hope it will help you hunt tomorrow. Go ahead, just blow."
Gutteral rasps came from the four soldiers as they tried them out.
The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is a congressionally chartered veterans service organization founded in 1946 that supports veterans whose injuries range from total to partial paralysis -- veterans of the armed forces who have experienced spinal cord injury or dysfunction. Chris Chapman, chairman of PVA, came down to have lunch and meet the first four wounded warriors to enjoy the hunting preserve.
In the fall of 2007, a Growler team working with the PVA began manufacturing the wheelchair-accessible Huntmaster Tower Stand at American Growler's sister plant for civilian products in Star, Carolina Growler, Inc.
Its cabin raises 21 feet by dual electro/hydraulic system and features observation or shooting openings on all four sides. Cabin capacity is 750 pounds, and the whole thing fits down into a six-by-eight-foot trailer bed with a loading ramp and six cargo tie downs. The 12 volt deep cycle battery box with solar energy charger is lockable. The trailer meets all Department of Transportation requirements for highway towing and has its own electric brakes.
The Huntmaster has been stability tested to withstand up to a 30-mph wind gust when elevated. Inside, there are gun racks, lights, a 12 volt outlet with meter, fold down bench seats and soundproofing on all cabin interior surfaces.
The system has the ability to raise 20 feet by the push of a button and is nearly silent in operation.
Last month, PVA and American Growler donated one of them to West Point.
Now, out on these hilltops in northern Moore County, six Huntmasters give wounded soldiers and disabled veterans access to return to a sport they may have enjoyed before their injuries.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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