For most deer hunters, rifle season in Missouri doesn't start until next weekend, but Big Spring National Park allowed some special guests to get a head start. Hunting is usually not allowed in the park, but five wounded warriors were the exceptions this weekend.
"It took me 20 minutes, 30 minutes to get two," former Army soldier Daniel Barnes said. "Then after we shot both of them we stayed there until they came and got us two hours later. We were watching deer and taking pictures and videoing them."
For Barnes and the other veterans, it's about more than just doing a hobby they enjoy.
"This morning we met two older gentlemen who are hunting with us, from earlier wars and getting to talk with them about what they've been through and they were asking us what we have been through," said Barnes. "It's just the whole experience, I mean being around people who know what you're going through."
Barnes says it's about sharing his hobby with people who understand each other.
"It's not just the hunt," said Barnes. "It's everybody from the town to the park rangers to being with your friends."
The woods are packed with deer.
"I saw a lot of deer," former soldier Bobby Lisek said. "I'd say I saw over 40 deer."
Park Rangers say that's why managed hunts like this one are a win-win for hunters and wildlife.
"Excessive numbers impact deer health and are also hard on resources," Eric Daniels, chief of resource management, said. "This is historic landscape down here so we are trying to protect the park as well as improve the deer's health."
Organizers say putting on this event was a community effort. They say it's for American heroes who've given so much.
"There's a constant reminder everyday of what has happened to you whether it's physically or mentally. Everyday there is a challenge you have to overcome," Barnes said.
Each hunter was allowed to harvest two antlerless deer.
The Park Service plans to host another managed hunt at Big Spring National Park in December.
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