For Miguel Villagomez, a visually impaired eighth grader who was guided by Gene Piver of Asheville, a long-time member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the hunt ended with a bang at first light that left a big gobbler flopping on the ground.

It took a little longer for 8-year-old Cory Holbrooks of Franklin to connect, but it was no less sweet. Holbrooks, whose walking ability is impaired, high-stepped through a cow pasture in the predawn darkness, learning that it was best to avoid the scattered, plate-sized dark spots.

Trained to aim and fire a shotgun with a joystick, Holbrooks and his guide, B.J. Keener, got the word from their landowner via cell phone that a gobbler with hens was working his way across the pasture. A couple of minutes later, the big tom headed toward a gobbler decoy set up in front of the blind, circling his adversary twice to show his displeasure, before Holbrooks pushed the special button that set off the gun's trigger, leaving another gobbler flopping and ready for a future Thanksgiving dinner.


Ashe shared credit for the hunt with a Macon County commissioner, Ronnie Beale, and his sister, Maria Tallent, who helped round up the dozen kids who participated and the volunteers, guides and landowners. He also got asked for and received assistance from North Carolina Handicapped Sportsmen Inc., and set up a get-acquainted day that allowed participants to meet and the kids to get in some target practice.