Blind Hunter Returns to Hunting with Help of Friends, Faith

spring-turkey-2016-768x1024KOSSUTH, Pa. (EYT) – Bob Thomas loved to hunt up until 2003 when he lost his eyesight.

Totally blinded shortly after graduating from high school because of Von Hippel–Lindau (VHL), a rare disease, Thomas thought his hunting days were over.

Thomas, now Pastor of the Kossuth Faith Church of the Nazarene, first found a way to hunt because of the help of close friends and faith, and he could also use his experience in his ministry.

Since he became the blind hunter in 2014, he has taken three deer and three turkeys.

Doctors found the disease in his eyes when he was 13, but he started hunting when he was 12 and loved every minute of hunting.

“I lost the eyesight in my right eye when I was 16,” said Thomas.

He could still hunt, drive, and do everything a normal teenager could do. Three months after he graduated from high school in 2003, he lost the sight in his left eye.

“VHL Disease stops the pupil growth in your eyes, spine, brain, or any major organ,” said Thomas. “After multiple surgeries, it became too much for my eyes and pulled out the retinas and took my eyesight.”

Thomas grew up in a small town called Rockton, near DuBois. He served as Pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Clearfield for eight years before taking over the Kossuth Pastorship on August 21.

“I grew up in the church,” said Thomas. “I had walked away, but it was after I lost my sight, I got the call to be a pastor. I earned my bachelor’s degree online from the Nazarene Bible College in Colorado Springs.  I have a computer equipped with ‘Jaws’ screen reader that reads everything to me.” 

“Getting through college was different with ‘Jaws,’ but it made it easy for me doing it online.  There were some things I had to do differently, but it all worked very well.”

deer 2016

How he hunts

Thomas describes his hunting as a buddy system.

“I have my gun and use a tripod rack, and my friend sits behind me.  I keep my head out of the way, and he helps aim the gun and tells me when I’m on target and when I should shoot and everything.”

“A good friend of mine, Scott Shultz, who is also a pastor in the Clearfield area, knew I wanted to do it again, and we talked about how we could do it.”

“Through my friend Dave McBride, a taxidermist in Clearfield, I was taken out on the first turkey hunt.  He had the idea of the tripod because he had used it for his daughter when she was younger.”

“We went to a shooting range together and realized we could shoot the target, and we felt we could get a turkey.  That’s how it started, a little trial and error.”

“I wanted to hunt again. I mean, that is one of the biggest things I have wanted to do since I lost my sight,” Thomas said. “My wife, Samantha, was one the biggest instigators. I have to give her credit because I wanted to and always thought, ‘I can’t because of my sight.’ She came home with a gun and said, ‘Here, do it,’ and pushed me to find a way to do it. Having that support was nice.”

That first hunt allowed Thomas to take a big, bulked-up turkey that weighed 15 pounds and had a 5-inch beard and half-inch spurs.

“The nice thing was that when I heard the turkey gobble, or they tell me the turkey was coming, I could picture it in my head because I’ve seen it before. While I can’t see it now, I still have that visual in my head from before I was blind.”

Not only does he hunt, he also helps clean his kills.

“They help me walk out of the blind, help me walk to where the bird is, and where to put the tag on it.  I carry it out of the woods myself.  When it comes to field dressing, I try to help as much as I can.”

Ministry

“God allowed me to hunt again, and I wanted to use it for my ministry. I’ve been able to incorporate it, and it’s allowed me to meet people that I wouldn’t have before.” 

“If anyone is every looking for a speaker at a wild game supper, church, or something like that, I want to use it in that kind of way.”

Bob and Samantha have two children, Adam, 4, and Hanna, 3.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bob Thomas’ turkey hunt will be televised on TomBob Outdoors with host John Straitiff of PA Great Outdoors on the following dates: Monday, January 16, 2016 at 8:30PM, Friday, January 20, 2016 at 3:30PM, and Sunday, January 22, 2016 at 5PM on Pursuit Channel. Sunday, January 22, 2016 at 11AM on ROOT Sports & 7AM WATM ABC 23.


Copyright © 2021 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Comments are temporarily closed. A new and improved comments section will be added soon.