By the North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs Office
CAMP GRAFTON TRAINING CENTER, DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - For more than 20 years, Camp Grafton Training Center near Devils Lake has opened its gates to disabled veterans for a special deer hunt. This year was no different.
Nine hunters spent Monday and Tuesday doing a pastime they've enjoyed for years that has become too difficult to do on their own. Accompanied by a chosen companion and a Camp Grafton representative, each hunter tagged a deer during the hunt - seven bucks and two does.
"For most of them, hunting has been a long-time tradition and this is an event they still enjoy," said Chief Warrant Officer Larry Walford, who helped to coordinate this year's hunt. It's the sixth year that he's done so.
The late Col. Dean Hildebrand initiated the hunting opportunity when he served as the superintendent at Camp Grafton. He saw it as a way to slightly reduce the deer population on Camp while giving disabled veterans a chance to hunt. Lt. Col. Rick Moszer continued to coordinate the hunt after Hildebrand moved to Bismarck, and now Walford maintains the tradition.
Retired Sgt. Maj. Jim Verwey, Barnes County veterans' service officer, assists in making connections with disabled veterans and getting them registered for the hunt. Veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam have all taken part, with some coming from as far as Missouri to be part of the tradition.