Saturday, November 05, 2005

COM: Ryan Crunk back in action

Wounded troops get to hunt big game
By Gerard MacCrossan, The Daily Times, Published November 05, 2005

It’s been about five years since Kerrville native Ryan Crunk went hunting in Kerr County.

College, military service and an eight-month stint recovering from injuries sustained in a grenade blast in Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 31 have intervened.

That grenade blast ultimately led to Crunk losing his right leg in a March surgery, an amputation that knocked him down but not out. Since May, he has been through five prosthetics, his mother Becky said, as his mobility increases to the point where he now can walk almost normally.

In October, Crunk and his Brooke Army Medical Center roommate, Robert Roeder, were selected as the first two of 12 military members to be taken hunting through a special program. The Show the Military Support Hunts program was the idea of Midland man Terry Johnson, who owns an oil industry service company.

Johnson said taking military personnel on a hunt was a natural way, for some one who has hunted 31 years, of showing appreciation. He made two spots available at his own cost last year, but this year the program has grown by leaps and bounds thanks to exposure through the Texas Trophy Hunters Association television show, which filmed the 2004 hunt.

“I got calls wanting to make it bigger and better,” Johnson said. One call came from West Kerr County resident Paul Bushong, whose managed ranch was made available for a hunt in October by Johnson, Crunk and Roeder. They spent three days and two nights, at the ranch and each shot big white-tailed bucks.

“We try to put them on as good a deer we can put them on,” Johnson said. Crunk’s 14-point white-tailed buck scored 147 points on the Boone and Crockett scale.

“They are mounting it for me in Midland and getting the meat processed for me,” Crunk said.

His fellow amputee, Roeder, who served in the Navy until he lost his leg in an accident on a carrier, shot a 10-point white-tailed buck, which field-dressed out at a heavy 158 pounds.

Crunk said hunting as an amputee wasn’t a whole lot different from his previous experiences. The enjoyment of shooting put him behind a rifle several times this year, but his special hunt gave him a new weapon — a Browning 300 with Leupold scope, which was presented as part of the package.

“We want to present the participants with a $1,500 gun package per man, including binoculars, knives and hunting clothes,” Johnson said.

“What I have seen in dealing with these (injured soldiers), they are so focused on the injury and rehab, it never dawns that we out here are grateful for what they’ve done,” he said. “It comes almost as a shock that ‘America is proud of us.’ Whether you support the war or not, you have to support the military doing their job.”

Other military personnel selected for the hunts will receive their gifts at a special dinner in Midland in March that is being organized to fund the growing program. Johnson said he expects 20 personnel will be offered hunts in Texas next year. Ranchers and outfitters in other states have contacted him expressing interest in establishing similar programs.

“I guarantee that, nationwide, there are 60 or 80 guys going to get to go hunting next year,” he said.

As for Crunk, he expects to have about two more months of recovery at BAMC before receiving a medical discharge from the military. Right now, he plans to take a job offer in the Alpine area with a friend with a construction company. There he wants to take night classes at Sul Ross State University as he figures out what to major in to complete his bachelor’s degree.