WEST PORTSMOUTH —It was a day that will last a lifetime for the Dejarnette family as True Lure made a dream come true for one terminally ill individual.
For the past seven years, Todd Dunn has hosted 62 hunts for those who are disabled or terminally ill. Dunn owns a 40-acre deer farm in West Portsmouth and runs a nonprofit, True Lure No Kill Deer Hunt. Over the weekend, Dunn hosted a hunt for Ethan Dejarnette that will be a lasting memory for the whole family.
“It’s just a life-changing event for the kids and their parents,” said Dunn.
The hunts are typically for those who are terminally ill and disabled. Families gather on Dunn’s property, where he prepares for a day full of hunting, providing everything they will need for the day. During their most recent hunt, Dejarnette and his parents traveled from North Carolina to experience hunting with their son in their RV.
Dejarnette was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of three. Multiple sclerosis involves an immune-mediated process in which an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
Within the system, the immune system causes inflammation that damages myelin — the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers — as well as the nerve fibers themselves and the specialized cells that make myelin. MS is known as a progressive disease and as progressed as Dejarnette has gotten older.
“This here is a memory,” said Mike Bell, co-organizer of the hunt. “According to his dad, he said there were around four times in the past year where they thought they might lose him.”
The Dejarnette family got in contact with Hands of a Sportsman, a nonprofit in North Carolina that makes hunting possible for those with disabilities.
Hands of a Sportsman contacted Dunn in hopes of making the hunt possible for the Dejarnette family.
“The True Lure No Kill Deer Hunt is one of a kind. It is the only one like it in the United States,” said Bell.
The hunt takes place at Dunn’s deer farm, where a specific deer is assigned and is to be shot with a tranquilizer dart to keep from killing the deer.
The hunt with Dejarnette lasted seven and a half hours. In that time, the family was able to go to the blind, track the deer, and see different types of wildlife.
“Ethan was all smiles,” said Bell. “He got to see us take the antlers off, give it the medication, and watch that deer get right back up and take off running.”
From there, the antlers are removed and later placed on a deer head that has already been mounted to be presented to the individual.
Bell said to the family it was a memory that will never be forgotten.
“There were so many tears of joy,” said Bell. “You could just see their love for Ethan, and they just kept hugging him and saying how much they love him.”
The Dejarnette’s were able to stay for the entire weekend.
“The mount is finished, and it has an 18-point rack,” said Bell. “Soon, Todd will be driving it down to North Carolina to present it to Ethan and his family.”
As a nonprofit organization, Dunn said he wouldn’t be able to do what he does without the community support and donations from local businesses. Dunn especially wanted to thank Bolins Chicken, Tony Journey for donating water, and Giovanni’s for donating pizza.
“When we go into the blind, we go in there to make their day,” said Dunn. “It’s all about the kids, so we supply the food, drinks, and it’s all about making them comfortable and just letting them be able to do a real hunt. It really means a lot to them.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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