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May 5: Dennis Thompson

Army veteran Dennis Thompson told John Williams that he only had a couple problems that could keep him from killing a turkey on the hunt he won at John’s farm. The first problem was that he was totally blind, the other, that he only had one arm and one leg. The injuries were due to a severe motorcycle accident that left him almost dead.  

John had agreed to offer a turkey hunt on his Missouri farm as a fundraiser for the Mid-America Special Sportsmen Association, a non-profit dedicated to making the outdoor accessible to individuals with disabilities. Friends Cathy Rupard, Stan Frederick, David Westmoreland and Dan Vogt went in together to purchase the hunt. Once purchased, they drew from a list of names of veterans involved with the association. The winner would be awarded the hunt. Dennis was the lucky winner.

When Dennis contacted John about setting up the hunt he’d won, he was up front about his situation.

“I’ve got just a couple problems. The biggest problem is I’m blind. The other problem is that I only have one arm and one leg.”

“Well Dennis, you sound like a nice guy, but how in the heck are we gonna get you to shoot a turkey?”

There was a plan for that.

Mike DeShazo from the sportsmen association would accompany him on the hunt and use an iPhone tethered to the scope on Dennis’ Winchester SX3 shotgun to give guidance on where to aim and when to shoot. For John’s part, he had grandson and champion turkey caller Zach Playle roost a bird the night before the hunt.

The morning of the hunt, Dennis, Mike and Zach were hunkered down in a Muddy blind. John perched above them all in an elevated box blind and ran another video camera. With the Avian-X decoy out in front of the guys, the scene was set one of the most unique hunts we’ve ever captured on camera.

Not long after first light, the tom pitched down. Zach’s calling was too much for him and he began coming in on a string. At the same time, the guys were trying to adjust Dennis’ seat to make the shot. As the bird passed the 40 yard mark, Dennis’ seat made a popping noise putting the gobbler on edge. He slowed up and started putting. Their opportunity at success was fading fast.

Quickly, Dennis and Mike coordinated to get the crosshairs on the bird. He steadied the gun with input from Mike and pulled the trigger, dropping the wary gobbler at 40 yards with a load of Winchester Long Beard shot.

Guys like Dennis give you hope for the human condition. Despite all the challenges he faces, he’s still living life and doing it with a positive attitude. He’s incredible…and this turkey kill is just one more evidence to that fact.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik