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Brookhaven man’s Hunt of a Lifetime was ‘life-changing experience’

A life-changing experience is what Brookhaven resident Warren Ashmore said he had during a recent Hunt of a Lifetime.

Ashmore was selected by the Lincoln Civic Center’s Wildlife Expo Foundation Committee as the 2020 recipient of a Hunt of a Lifetime. The hunts are funded by the foundation from donations and funds raised by the annual Wildlife Expo and other fundraisers. No tax dollars or county funds are used.

“These hunts are a way to give back to someone from Lincoln County who has some type of physical, mental or emotional disability,” Lincoln Civic Center Director Quinn Jordan told the county’s Board of Supervisors Monday. “The hunts are done in cooperation with Quality Deer Management Association and we spend anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 each year on the hunt.”

Past hunt participants include Chris Thornhill, Caley Cole and Scott Russell.

At Ashmore’s request, he was allowed to speak before the board during its regular meeting to express his thanks to the county for supporting the Lincoln Civic Center, because even though no funding from the county is used for the hunts, he said, their willingness to support Jordan and the center made possible the opportunity for the Expo Foundation to provide unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for him and others.

“Fourteen years ago, I had an ATV accident that caused me to have a traumatic brain injury and degenerative spine conditions,” Ashmore said. “Hunting, fishing, golf all came to a halt for me.”

Even though the injuries led to changes for the Brookhaven High School honor graduate’s education and career goals, Ashmore said he found inner strength and encouragement from God and family to keep going.

As a former volunteer at the Wildlife Expos, the 29 year old said he was honored to be selected as a recipient of the Hunt of a Lifetime. When he was asked where he wanted to go and what he wanted to hunt, Ashmore said anywhere would be good — a trip to Wesson to deer hunt would have been just fine.

But Jordan asked him to pick a true hunt of a lifetime.

“I’ve always wanted to go elk hunting,” he said.

So with his mother Cindy Moore along for the trip, they headed to High Adventure Ranch in Cook Station, Missouri. After a day of scouting, Ashmore harvested an 800-pound elk on the second day of the trip … on his first shot.

“Since the hunt, we’ve enjoyed eating elk chili, chops, steaks and jerky,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having the shoulder mount later this year prepared by taxidermist Allen Morgan.”

He hopes it will fit through the doorway of his apartment.

Morgan is donating half the cost of the mount, Jordan said.

In addition to the excitement of the hunt, the great food and experiencing a lot of beautiful wildlife, Ashmore said, “I was able to forget about all my appointments, my tests, my procedures, leave the worries of the world behind and feel a sense of normalcy.”

“I have a renewed sense of hope,” he said. “It was a reminder to focus on my abilities rather than my disabilities. And I want to encourage others with ‘invisible’ disabilities. We make look normal and healthy but disabilities can be hidden. I want to encourage you to be patient, be kind, refuse to give up and purposefully choose to move forward and celebrate your victories.”

Ashmore thanked the board, the foundation and any person who had a hand in his opportunity, especially Jordan for organizing the trip, encouraging him and accompanying him on the hunt. Jordan took the opportunity to thank the board, as well as the foundation members and Expo volunteers who made the hunt possible.

“I know that God is in control. There is hope for the future and God still has a plan for my life because of His promise in Jeremiah 29:11,” Ashmore said. “This was a life-changing experience.”