What do you get when you assemble 15 active duty GI's – combat-experienced Marines actually – with the Beaufort Chapter of Ducks Unlimited and a half-dozen generous landowners? You get two days of fun with guns, ducks, food and a very warm feeling from recognizing the contributions of our young military members.
For the second-consecutive year, the Beaufort’s DU chapter rounded up Marines to participate in a Warriors Hunt hunt held this past Saturday on six Lowcountry plantations: Nemours, Ashepoo/Fenwick Island, Brewton, Paul & Dalton, Bonnie Hall and Paco Sabo.
In addition, the servicemen were treated to a round of sporting clays set up by Bud Hay of the Fourth Thursday Club – though all were combat-qualified with rifles, many had little or no experience with shotguns or shooting at flying objects – plus a full-blown Lowcountry boil dinner at Nemours. Taxidermist Jimmy Hortman presented mounts prepared from ducks bagged on the 2012 hunt to each of the soldiers.
Saturday morning dawned gray and windless, almost ideal for duck hunting, and the Marines bagged an impressive array of waterfowl, including mallards, mottleds, shovelers, blue- and green-winged teal and wood ducks.
"These Marines don't have a problem hitting what they aim at,” said Michael McShane, owner of Nemours Plantation. “On the other hand, with target identification, they need a little help."
The weekend was topped off with a banquet the evening of the hunt put on by the DU chapter.
"I never hunted ducks before, but I'm hooked now, It was great," said Staff Sergeant James Phillips, a 19-year veteran. "Other places aren't like here. Beaufort is so friendly to us. I can't believe they would do this for us."
The idea for the hunt began in 2012 when Nick Petrowski and Brian Harrelson, members of Beaufort’s DU chapter began discussing plans to reinvigorate the chapter, enhance appreciation of the huge ACE Basin estuary and give back to the community. Brett Baker’ DU’s Director of Development, and Nemours’ McShane became involved, and when the plans were blessed by the Marine Air Station Command, five other plantations that were DU habitat conservation partners were enlisted.