Dead End Game Calls, a Purlear-based company owned by Mitchell Johnston, recently helped dreams come true for a pair of special young sportsmen.
In early December, Johnston helped Will Asbell tag a giant 10-point buck in Iowa. Will, 15, has been fighting an inoperable brain tumor since he was 7 months old and endures daily chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
“Just a few weeks prior to this hunt, Will had some blood transfusions and we didn’t think he’d be able to hunt,” noted Johnston. “But he and each one of the kids we help have smiles on their faces. I never see or hear anything negative from them.”
All of the lodging for the pro staffers and children in December was provided by Rest Inn Him, a retreat center in Unionville, Missouri, run by Ed and Nancy Anders.
“I think we can learn a big lesson from” hunters like Will, said Mitchell. “Life hasn’t given them the best cup of tea, so to speak, but they’re always thankful for another day.”
During the Iowa buck hunt, Johnston noted that “everything didn’t go just right, but God had another plan. Sometimes, when things don’tgo right in life, and we go through troubles, trials and tests, remember that you can’t have a testimony before going through a test.”
And in early November, Dead End “Road Crew” member Patrick Paysinger guided Easton Blackford in taking a giant Iowa whitetail buck with an arrow from a crossbow shot from Easton’s wheelchair.
Then Mitchell and fellow Road Crew members drove 23 hours to the C.B. Ranch in Darby, Montana, to help Easton, who has cerebral palsy, harvest another eight-point buck and then a hefty bull elk.
“God blessed us with an amazing week with Easton,” said Johnston, who added that the hunts were a collaboration between his company, the Outdoor Dream Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Outdoor Dream Foundation is an Anderson, S.C.-based nonprofit that provides hunting, fishing and other outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses.
It’s an annual Christian ministry during the turkey and deer hunting seasons for Johnston, an ordained minister and world champion turkey caller.
This past year, eight young hunters were guided, and six of them had successful harvests.
“It’s a ministry because we get to take guys like Easton hunting and talk about the Lord,” explained Mitchell.
Johnston said that he and other adults need to be more thankful like Easton and not take their physical health and strength for granted.
“We are truly blessed. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us. Take that to heart when life doesn’t go just right—think about how blessed we truly
Growing up in Wilkes County, Mitchell never would have dreamed of chasing big bucks and elk in a faraway place like Montana. “My dad worked two jobs his whole life. We didn’t have much but we had all we needed and were blessed.”
Perry’s Service Center of Wilkesboro helped sponsor the hunts. Another Wilkes resident, Jeremy Critcher, guided another young hunter to a deer harvested in Missouri after being allowed time off work by his family-run T&J Produce, which has a warehouse in Wilkesboro.
Giving back to others is a major part of Mitchell’s ministry,
and thanks to his efforts, dreams are coming true for special hunters like Easton and Will.