Randy Dyer’s face lights up when he talks about helping a group of handicapped people venture into the woods to hunt.
“It was such a success last year and you see what kind of fun these guys are having and how much fun it is for them, it’s something to see,” Dyer said. “It just gives us a whole new outlook on what we’ve been able to enjoy our whole lives.”
The second annual Thunder in the Hills Turkey Hunt, sponsored by the South Central Ohio and Clinton County chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation and South Central Ohio Whitetails, will be held April 13-15.
Dyer, a Hillsboro area resident who serves as president of the South Central NWTF chapter and South Central Ohio Whitetails, said 12 people, including one woman and two kids, a father son from North Carolina and a boy from Indiana, will the be this year’s hunters.
He said people with handicaps are so eager to take part that his phone starts ringing off the hook as soon as the hunt is posted on social media. So much so that he’s already booking people for next year.
And lots of people want to help. He said a caterer has agreed to donate and cook 60 steak dinners on Saturday night, and there will be more than 40 support staff to help pull the event off.
“We like people in there who have never had the opportunity to get out on a hunt. That’s our goal,” said Dyer, co-chairman of the event with Greg Keeton of the Clinton County NWTF chapter.
The event starts Friday night with a meet-and-greet and pizza at Pike Lake State Park, where eight cabins have been rented for the hunters. There will be a giveaway of guns, turkey calls and other hunting-related items that evening. They’ll have an early breakfast provided by Dunkin’ Donuts on Saturday, then will hunt in the Pike State Forest until noon, using eight donated “side by sides” to reach their destinations. They will return to the park for lunch, then will fish for 500 trout stocked in Pike Lake by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The evening will be capped with the steak dinner. On Sunday they’ll have another early breakfast, hunt again until noon, then will pack up and head home.
When they go out to hunt each hunter is accompanied by a guide and some will have cameramen with them to document the day’s events.
If organizers can raise a little more money, Dyer said they’d like to be able to purchase the hunters’ hunting licenses and maybe a T-shirt.
“Once they get out in the woods they’re so excited and having such a good time they’d stay out there all day if you’d let them,” Dyer said. “Nothing bothers them. They’ve been adapting their whole lives.”
Dyer said the groups organizing the hunt are trying to raise funds to replace a handicapped fishing pier that’s been removed at Rocky Fork Lake, and are thinking about holding a deer hunt for people with handicaps in the fall.
Anyone wanting to help financially or to take part can call Dyer at 937-205-7747 or Keeton at 937-901-7086.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]