Recognizing the recent beginning of gobbler season, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System hosted an indoor turkey hunt for residents in the Community Living Center at the H.J. Heinz campus.
The 16 Veterans who participated in the "Great and Wild Turkey Hunt" worked in teams of two, traveling to stations throughout the building to face challenges such as answering quiz questions and hitting targets. Those who successfully completed each challenge received part of an artificial turkey. The first team to collect all the pieces for a whole turkey won the hunt.
The event, organized by recreation therapy staff and involving nursing, social work, occupational therapy and other departments, served to help build the Veterans' memory and motor skills and provide information on topics such as nutrition and infection control.
Veterans prepared for the hunt by making turkey calls from straws, practicing calling and signing up for a "hunting license." To get that license, they attended a presentation on turkeys from officers of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The teams' first challenge required them to make a hunting hat to wear throughout the race. Each team then received a rhyming clue for the location of a challenge station (one example: "Here's the suggestion. Shakespeare knew 'THAT is the question.'").
Many of the Veterans who participated said they enjoyed the experience, which reminded some of their own real-life hunting adventures.
"We had a ball," said Veteran Theodore Jackson, who won the hunt with partner Gregory Mangol and received a real turkey call from the state game commission.
Fellow hunter and Veteran John Malloy agreed, adding that he planned to continue using his straw turkey call.
The participants' enthusiasm has led staff to plan on hosting another hunt for Thanksgiving.