By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
Rocky Blier was a skilled craftsman, carpenter and avid sportsman who turned a tragic, almost fatal accident into a life changing event and inspired many people in the process. Blier was right at home working in all phases of the construction business and could do almost anything around the house. A near fatal fall from a roof changed his life forever, leaving him a quadriplegic and in the process changed his focus in an even more positive direction.
Blier chose life and he chose to live it more abundantly. He didn’t dwell on what he couldn’t do, he imagined the possibilities of what he could do, and then he dreamed of ways to do it and designed things to help him accomplish his goals.
A fateful encounter with Steve Thomas of the Wheelin’ Sportsman Organization offered Blier an opportunity to get a glimpse of life in the wild outdoors, a place that he’d never thought about, and rarely been before. The Wheelin’ Sportsman gave Blier encouragement and enabled him the opportunity to explore the outdoors and gave him the opportunity to go hunting and fishing with other hunters, and in the process gave him a new outlook on the world.
“I never had time to fish or hunt before my accident,” Blier said. “I didn’t have time for it and I really worked all the time. I think if I’d taken more time to do something like this, things might have been different,” he said. “But I don’t have any regrets, I’ll tell you that, I’ve gained so many friends and done so much more than I ever had before the accident,” said Blier.
The Rock did more than survive after his accident. Though confined to a motorized wheelchair Blier became an accomplished, dedicated, sportsman, with a tenacity to get things done and reach his goåals.
Don Marascalco was both a mentor and friend to Rocky and hit it off instantly when the young Blier made a visit to the doctor's office and museum full of trophies. Plans were quickly formulated after Dr. Marascalco invited Blier on a hunt. It only took a few outings for the avid hunters to form a bond that would carry them through several years of hunts.
Blier’s greatest triumph was likely harvesting a trophy gobbler while hunting with the “Doc” as Blier fondly called him. Harvesting a gobbler is hard for an able bodied person, but near impossible for a man in a motorized wheelchair with little mobility. Though it took a few trips, Rock scored on the gobbler after a few intense hours in the blind!
Perhaps Blier’s greatest love of all was deer hunting and it didn’t come easy. After several near misses with deer escaping unharmed, Blier finally found a rifle that would do the job and he scored on his first deer. That might have been enough for most people but not for The Rock. He had other ideas and it lit a flaming passion of desire in his quest for that next deer or that next buck.
Blier harvested a trophy 12-point buck and made another lifetime memory while hunting yet again with Doc Marascalco! It quenched his desire a bit, but furthered his resolve to continue his new-found passion for hunting. While Blier harvested an untold number of deer over the last 15 years, he became more selective and many times passed on does and smaller bucks while waiting on another trophy.
Though many people would have been satisfied with hunting deer and turkey Blier had other ideas and decided to try to harvest a bear. The avid hunter almost got more than he bargained for while hunting with Dale Cogburn in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. As most people are aware, deer, turkey and most game animals flee at the sight or smell of a hunter and from the sound of gunfire. Bears on the other hand are just as likely to charge as they are to flee and that could be a problem for a man confined to a wheelchair.
You can’t be halfway in on a bear hunt, you’ve got to be total committed or you might meet your maker before your time. After a couple of tense charges by a hungry, irritated bear, Blier made a well placed shot and narrowly averted disaster.
In traditional Blier fashion the sumptuous meat went home with the victorious hunter and a bearskin rug adorned his den and trophy room. Blier was obviously thrilled with the outcome of the hunt and thankful for the blessing of his hosts and guides. "Mike, I'm a pretty good shot now, and I feel confident that I can make any shot," related Blier.
“I don’t feel handicapped when I’m out there by myself with only my friends and nature surrounding me!” Blier said with relish. Blier’s successful quest for the most dangerous game was something few able bodied hunters ever accomplish.
The Rock’s successful hunting career and second act recently came to an end with his untimely passing, but his legacy of living life to the fullest lives on and serves as a reminder to all of what can be accomplished, with a little help from your friends. Thanks for the memories Rocky, we’ll never forget.
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898
or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org