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Blier achieves impossible dream

By Staff
PROUD HUNTER Rocky Blier poses with the first wild turkey he shot and killed in a hunt earlier this year. Blier was paralyzed in a construction accident four years ago. Submitted photo
Mike Giles, an outdoors writer for The Meridian Star, tells the story of how Rocky Blier, a quadriplegic hunter, shot and killed his first wild turkey in a hunt earlier this year with Dr. Don Marascalco.
By Mike Giles / outdoors writer
May 1, 2004
Rocky Blier of Bailey achieved an almost impossible dream while experiencing the turkey hunt of a lifetime earlier this year.
Blier joined the National Wild Turkey Federation's Wheelin' Sportsmen Organization a few years ago after learning of the group at an outdoors show. Although Blier has harvested several deer since that time, his ultimate goal was to harvest a mature turkey gobbler.
Little did he know what a difficult, if not impossible, task that would be.
Mature turkey gobblers present some of the toughest tasks that any hunter faces. The obstacles faced by turkey hunters are almost to innumerable to mention in one article. To hunt and harvest a wise old monarch the right way is down right difficult.
That would entail calling a mature gobbler within shotgun range, which in this case would be 30 to 40 yards.
What makes turkey hunting all the more difficult is the fact that calling a gobbler in to gun range goes against the natural order of the turkeys. The wary old gobblers begin each spring morning with voluminous gobbles from high above the forest floor, resounding high in the treetops. They bellow out their gobbles for all suitors, and as a warning for other gobblers to beware. The coal black monarchs sit on their perch and advertise for any and all willing hens that would respond. Then they simply fly down and wait until the hens arrive, and they always do.
By calling the gobblers into gun range with sweet pleadings from turkey calls, the natural mating process is actually reversed. To call up one of these old warriors is indeed quite a feat for any able bodied person, much less for a hunter such as Blier.
Blier's accident
Blier, 39, was in an accident about four years ago that left him in a life or death crisis for 54 days. As a result of the construction accident, Blier was left paralyzed.
In fact, he came out of the accident a quadriplegic meaning he could no longer move his arms and legs. Through the next couple of years, Blier fought against his physical situation with all of the strength he could muster. The road has been difficult, but he has progressed to the level of a C5 quadriplegic.
After his accident, Blier required the use of attendants or nurses at all times. While accompanying one of the attendants to an eye appointment at Dr. Don Marascalco's office, Blier had the opportunity to meet the doctor.
From that chance meeting, a common bond and friendship evolved. In fact, Blier was hunting with Marascalco when he harvested his first buck.
This year, the two made plans to hunt turkeys together. Marascalco was game for the task, but tempered with the knowledge that success was almost impossible.
Difficult task
As most turkey hunters know, even able-bodied gobbler hunters meet failure day after day. Although Blier had harvested several deer, he might not have known how hard getting a turkey would be.
In order to hunt turkeys, Blier has to be strapped into a motorized four-wheel drive wheel chair, much like a Nascar driver. He is now able to use his arms with limited motion.
This improvement over being completely paralyzed has enabled him to actually shoot a rifle or shotgun.
With the help of a stand that he has designed, the front of the shotgun rests on the stand. The stock portion is fitted with Velcro and attached to another piece of Velcro on his shoulder. By moving his shoulders slightly he can aim the gun side to side and increase his shooting range just a little. The gobbler, however, literally has to walk into about a five square yard area to be in range. An added problem is that limited mobility prevented them from going to the turkey and setting up as most turkey hunters would. On this hunt, they would have to set up in an area that the gobbler would normally frequent.
After hunting several days without success, a friend of Marascalco gave them a tip on the location of a hot gobbler. They arrived at the location an hour before dawn, set up a portable blind and waited for daylight.
At the crack of dawn, a boss gobbler started gobbling to beat the band.
However, after a couple of hours of really coaxing and pleading with the wise old bird, nothing happened. In fact, the turkey had not even left the roost. At about 9 a.m., the duo left for home with the promise of a return trip that afternoon.
Return trip
Once back at the stand site that afternoon, the doctor repositioned the stand and they went to work. Although the old gobbler was silent, they knew that he was nearby.
After seven turkey hunts, Blier now had a taste of just how hard it was to harvest a turkey. As mid afternoon came and went, hopes were slowly fading.
In an instant, Blier spotted a magnificent gobbler the one he had been dreaming of for years. The enraged longbeard had come into sight of the decoys, two hens and one Jake. The turkey was infuriated with a young Jake trying to ease in on his harem.
Never glancing at the hens, he strutted straight for the confrontation with the young gobbler. As the king of the woods seemingly floated across the field, he came into Blier's target zone at just the right speed.
The trophy gobbler sported a ten and one half inch "paint brush" thick beard.
It had all happened so fast that the two hunters were both excited and incredulous at the same time.
They were on the verge of yet another failed outing when the gobbler came in right on time.
With the help of veteran turkey hunter, Marascalco, Blier achieved the impossible dream!