Sometime back in March or April, my desk phone at Northland Outdoors rang. It took me by surprise because I don’t get a lot of phone calls there. On the other end was Master Sargeant Eric Marts, who I’ve known from his radio show on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo. He told me about traveling with a group of veterans to Indiana to hunt turkeys and wondered if we’d like to do a story on them.
What made this interesting to me is that Marts is blind.
In fact, all the veterans that would be taking part were blind. With one exception — Aaron Hale is blind AND deaf. Unfortunately, he had to drop out of the trip at the last minute.
Marts put me in touch with the event organizer, another veteran named Lonnie Bedwell. Bedwell is a retired Navy submariner who was involved in a hunting accident where he lost his eyesight. In fact, it was a turkey hunting accident that contributed to his blindness. But that hasn’t kept him from heading back out to do the things he loves.
He became the first blind person to kayak the entire Grand Canyon. He’s climbed Mount Rainier and Mount Kilimanjaro. The list of accomplishments goes on and on — far beyond most people that are capable of seeing.
It was this list that led to Bedwell being named the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.
In early May, the veterans all gathered in Dugger, Indiana for the “Hunting Blind” turkey hunt. Some shenanigans played out, the group played a game of paintball — blind paintball — and they even squeezed in some hunting around the stormy weather.
Just how did they do, and more importantly, how did they do it? Watch the show and see how this group of proud Americans can show us all how to live life to the fullest. Bedwell says it best: “I am without eyesight. I am not without vision.”