Hunting With Arkansas Heroes

Local Sports
It’s a tradition in Arkansas that’s been gaining popularity over the last few years–an annual deer hunt put on for Wounded Warriors. This year, for the very first time, the Pine Bluff Arsenal teamed up with the Arkansas Freedom Fund so all hunters are Natural State natives.

Little Rock native Randy Hays served 13 years in U.S. Army Aviation. 

A soldier.
A survivor. 

But over the weekend, he was a hunter, hoping to bring home a trophy.

“It’d mean the world,” Hays said. “Especially if it was a buck. I’ve never killed a buck. Killed many of doe but never a buck.”

While serving in the Army, Hays was involved in a serious car accident. Doctors gave him a 10 percent chance to live.

“I spent 13 months in the hospital,” he said. “I’ve improved a lot since then. I couldn’t even talk then. I’m just on the verge of walking now.”

Hays said he’d never let his injuries get in the way of enjoying one of his true passions.

“I love the environment, I love to deer hunt, and I love the company,” said Hays.

Hays was joined by fellow Arkansas veteran Joshua Young who grew up in Marshall and served almost 12 years in the Marine Corps before being medically discharged. Young was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he also suffered nerve damage to his neck and back.

“I mean we don’t get into it very much because some of it’s pretty sensitive to us,” Young explained. “It just brings up memories and nightmares, stuff like that. But I think the main thing for me is being with fellow service members who are injured as well and getting the camaraderie that I miss from being in the military. The hunting aspect is just bonus.”

Sentiments echoed by Little Rock’s own Stephen Lutz who served three years in the U.S Navy Submarine Duty before being declared medically disabled as he suffered from epilepsy. For Lutz, signing up for the deer hunt took some convincing.

“My brother really wanted me to come out and try it, he’s big into it,” Lutz said. “For me it’s like the camaraderie, getting together, knowing the other guys. That’s the biggest part for me.”

Hays added, “I just enjoy their fellowship because they comprehend what I’m talking about.”

The three-day hunt turned out to be even more rewarding than expected. All three wounded warriors took home a deer and on the very first night, Hays killed his first buck.

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