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From Football Field to Deer Field

David Saville

Clemson equipment manager with Down syndrome inspires all!

By Bob Saville (David's father)

Taking a 145-inch 10-pointer would be impressive for any hunter, but it's an especially big achievement for David Saville, my 22-year-old son with Down syndrome.

David has hunted with his mom, two brothers and me on our Madison County, Georgia farm since he was twelve. He's developed into a well-seasoned hunter, having harvested several does, a 350-pound boar and a 115-inch 9-pointer in his career so far.

Besides being an avid hunter, David is a student at Clemson University and a football manager for the Tigers.

On Dec. 12, 2012, Clemson had just finished football practice and David jumped into my truck to catch the last hour of hunting light. We'd tried the day before, but the deer were already on the field and spooked as we tried to get to our stand. 

This time, we eased into a double-stand around 5 p.m. and began our usual routine of scoping and imitating a shot before actually loading the rifle. 

While I glassed the field, David carefully loaded his Marlin lever action with three .35 caliber bullets. 

Nothing appeared until three does eased onto the field around 5:30. David waited until 5:40 and decided to take one of the does since daylight was quickly running out. 

He rested his gun on the shooting rail and found the doe in his scope, but just before we removed the safety, another deer walked onto the field about 80 yards away and to our right. 

I whispered, "David, that's a buck! A BIG buck! Can you take the shot, or do you want me to try?"

David SavilleDavid quickly found the buck in the scope, so we took the safety off. I was raising my binoculars to observe his shot and offer instructions, but David squeezed the trigger before I could say a word.

The buck dropped in its tracks from a perfect neck shot!

As night fell, David rushed to his buck and counted ten points. It wasn't until we got back to the barn that we realized just how big it was. It turned out to be the 16th largest buck recorded in our county!

More about David

Although David has Down syndrome, that hasn't stopped him from accomplishing more in the last ten years than many people accomplish in a lifetime.

David is a student in the ClemsonLIFE post-secondary program, where he learns life skills in the classroom, dorm and on the job.

As a teenager, David attained the rank of Eagle Scout, was Homecoming King at Norcross High and was a football manager there for five years, performed in Norcross plays and was the recipient of the AADD (of Atlanta) 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award.

David was also featured in an episode of "Aarons Outdoors," where he harvested his wild boar.

His mom, Diane, and I believe his accomplishments have been a result of his environment, supportive family and personality.

Hunting Stories Wanted!We've presented David with every opportunity possible to grow socially through activities, friendships and independence.

He's not any smarter than the typical kid with Down syndrome, and he struggles with math and other academic skills, but is able to read, interact with others and is willing to work hard. 

Most importantly, David has a genuine concern for others, regardless of their position.

David plans to return to Clemson next year for his third year of the ClemsonLIFE program.

He will be transitioning from the dorm and classroom to independent living in an apartment, with plans to continue with Clemson football and working at Ingles Markets.

Of course, David wants to find another wallhanger, maybe just a little bigger. Some things never change!

Editor's Note: Here's a wonderful video of David, created by the Clemson Football Equipment Managers:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Svz_q4hH4hI

For more information about ClemsonLIFE, visit their website at: www.clemson.edu/culife

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