The Cypress Creek Hunting Lodge is nestled back off a lane that provides access to several grand South Carolina country manor houses and plantations. The lodge itself is an impressive structure, with Southern class and charm, built in 1890 and restored for modern conveniences with historical authenticity. It is indeed a hunter’s dream accommodation.
Owners Danny and Becky allowed Freedom Alliance to use the facilities for a hog hunt back in May, and, providing a generous discount, they asked that we please come again. We invited seven disabled service members, four of whom had hunted at Cypress Creek in the spring: Air Force veteran Matt, Marine veteran Cory, Army veteran Steve, and from the Fort Gordon Warrior Transition Unit, active-duty Sergeant First-Class Charles.
Charles brought a friend, Jason, who is a soldier from Fort Gordon, and Matt invited Fred, a veteran from the Army’s 82nd Airborne. We asked Marine Staff Sergeant Colvin from Camp Lejeune to come to Cypress Creek as well.
Our special guest was J. R., a combat vet and writer for American Warrior, an NRA publication. J. R., a member of the National Guard, lost an arm while serving in Iraq in 2006. He was using the hunt to write a story for his magazine, which will focus on Charles and Jason, childhood friends who were injured and are recovering together.
Vietnam veteran Frank has been hunting at Cypress Creek for fourteen years, and he didn’t want to miss this chance to support our current-generation service members. Having served in the Navy, Frank recalls being spat upon after returning from his war. Since his service, he’s lost veteran friends to suicide and the devastating effects of Agent Orange. He believes passionately that our military heroes today should be honored and well cared for, and he demonstrates this conviction when he is with our Freedom Alliance guests.
The September weather was ideal for hunting—cool mornings and evenings, which got the game animals moving, and warm afternoons that were perfect for hanging out in t-shirts.
The excitement really picked up Saturday evening at sunset, when Cory, who unfortunately didn’t take a kill during the last hunt, bagged a trophy eight-point buck! He was so thrilled that the rest of the party instantly caught his enthusiasm. About the same time, the van arrived to pick up Charles, who had also gotten a beautiful buck, this one with nine points. All in all, the group took three bucks, two does, and four hogs.
That night, the troops gathered around the campfire, where Frank led us in singing “America the Beautiful” after the custom storytelling time. Freedom Alliance presented Danny with a limited-edition Death by Design turkey box call, which was signed by all the participants. The hunters raved about the Cypress Creek Hunting Lodge property, which was easily accessible and well managed, as well as the amazing Southern cuisine and hospitality exhibited by Danny and Becky.
Matt, who had a very successful hunt (two deer and three hogs) said, “I had an awesome time and I hope the others felt the same way. Thank you for getting behind this event, and I hope that it can be done again.”
Fred wrote after the hunt: “I want to thank you for allowing me to participate in the hunt. The accommodations were first class and the hunting experience was incredible to say the least. More importantly, to me, was the camaraderie between active and former service members that I haven’t felt in a long time. I’ve hunted many times in the past, but this particular experience is one that I’ll never forget.”
Giving veterans an opportunity to spend time in quiet, experiencing the peaceful and restorative qualities of nature, is our way of honoring their service and sacrifice. Not only can this experience provide healing, but also food for the dinner table.
We thank all our military heroes for making this the greatest country in the world, and we look forward to bringing more service members to Cypress Creek in September 2014.