Lifestyle & Human Interest

Watch: Nursing Home Residents Have a Blast Going 'Turkey Hunting' Inside Using Toy Guns


Kip Kruger works at Azle Manor Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Azle, Texas, and has a knack for keeping the residents smiling.

Not everyone would don a giant turkey costume and spend the day lurking behind plastic trees while being shot at with toy guns, but Kruger took one (or a dozen) for the team.

A photo posted on the Azle Manor Facebook page shows an orange-vested resident leveling her weapon at the giant downed turkey.

“We just went Turkey Hunting!” the caption reads.

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In a video that Kruger posted on social media, he says, “I’m the nursing administrator, and this is how I make my residents smile.”

The clip shows Kruger darting from tree to tree making gobbling noises while residents seated in wheelchairs take shots at him. Sometimes he falls down dramatically, and sometimes he announces the hit.

There’s laughter. There are smiles. There is perhaps a little bit of competition.

“And that, folks, is how you make people smile,” he concludes. “Just a little turkey huntin’ fun. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Many have enjoyed the lighthearted activity, even from afar, and have commended the center’s dedication to keeping their residents entertained.

“Improving Life for Seniors Gone Viral Recognition goes to Azle Manor Rehabilitation and Healthcare Administrator Kip Kruger seen Turkey hunting with his residents on Thanksgiving … as the Turkey!” the Improving Life for Seniors Facebook page posted with a share of the video.

Social media has been a great way for nursing homes and senior centers to share fun ideas in a time that has been incredibly isolating and lonely for the older generations.

This “turkey hunt” game is a riff on a popular game that circulated online last year: “Deer Hunt.”

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Social media legend says the game got its start in a nursing home based in Canada when one of the residents mentioned how much he missed hunting every year.

It was a way of life, steeped into his bones, and just because he was less mobile than he was in his younger years didn’t mean he missed it any less.

So recreation manager Emily Barnes set the scene: Fake Christmas trees became the forest, staff members dressed up like deer and the residents were handed Nerf guns, according to the CBC.

“It just lifts up the residents,” administrator Cheryl Osawabine-Peltier said of the activity and others like it. “Our activity staff have really come through during this pandemic.”

Many other care centers picked up the idea and ran with it, and what was originally limited to one organization has brought joy and lighthearted fun to hundreds. Whether it’s deer or turkeys being hunted, the game certainly seems appreciated by the “hunters.”

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