Death Defying Events in the Outdoors!
Unfortunately, another chapter can be added to the saga containing personal events experienced qualifying as another Adventure Sports Outdoors story! Swimming for my life in the cold waters of the mighty Ohio River miles from civilization while Canada Goose Hunting, clinging to a tree trunk twenty-five feet from Terra Ferma with a non-functioning tree stand for support while deer hunting, riding out the final seconds in the old Ford Bronco before she goes airborne and overturns into the ditch while Goose Hunting are but a few prior episodes when the serene moment occurs when panic and fear subside only to be replaced by the feeling of fate and all control lost when the next few seconds will produce a life or death event – which only time will reveal the result!
The hill had been climbed a thousand times before in the thirty-four years under my ownership. Each path to the top was precarious, usually the climb was based on weather conditions, moisture and footing, wind direction and preventing the least intrusive scent trail in my approach. This day was no different, the south-west wind and sunny dry conditions warranted a direct approach whereby if a deer detected my path of travel, they would already be in my real bow range. The approach was good with gear and body now safely perched on my tree stand,
Sure enough, an old doe approached from the south and caught my scent trail as she crossed it. She looked straight at me as if she had experienced this same situation as a yearling with her wise mother years past! She snorted and bid a quick retreat. So much for scent control sprays, scent lock clothing etc.!
Time passed quickly on this beautiful morning. Knowing my exit time to allow sufficient lee way to attend the scheduled “Decoy Party” to be held in Wimpyville, IL to clean, string and store our set of decoys for the upcoming duck season. At 8:30 the climb down was initiated with all gear accounted for. At the top of the hill the decision was made to regress on the same line of travel utilized on the climb up.
The first few yards were the most precarious! While holding a small tree trunk with my right hand and bow in the left, the descent for the next ten feet was accomplished without incident but the next few feet, the most dangerous of the drop, were next. I stepped upon a tree trunk curved toward the east to catch the eastern rise of the sun in the mornings. The next step was the most critical, but my right hand, gripping the small tree trunk would hold my weight during the momentum shift for the next step! This step started the event! My balance was now too far forward and the grip on the tree could not be held – now in uncontrollable standing descent, the decision was made to attempt to run out the descent by staying upright rather than hitting the ground and rolling with the flow, hoping for a reasonable result!
As the speed increased, my top torso became top-heavy with momentum taking over all control! The speed of my running legs would not catch up to correct this momentum shift overtaking me! Maybe Bo Jackson could have done it or possibly I in my prime, but the present was now in chaos mode! As the top half of my body leaned forward, I realized I was going to crash! The bow was heaved away with my left hand with instinct drawing my arms forward to minimize the coming impact! The speed of the episode now was instantaneous – my head hit hard with sparks flying! I rolled over after the impact, being able to sit supported by my fanny pack against the sharp face of the hill! I was conscious! No blood was gushing from my lower extremities! No broken bones exposed! I looked around to access my visual acuity which was still intact! I felt around on my head, now throbbing, for impact wounds. Blood covered my hands. The wounds felt to be abrasive in nature with possible contusions on side and top of my skull! Knowing the fact head wounds bleed profusely and with my taking of blood thinners the bleeding would be difficult to stop but all in all I would survive! Compressing my handkerchief on the worst bleeders, the difficult climb and walk back to my vehicle was initiated!
My hunt was now over! A trip to the Emergency Room with subsequent CAT Scan showing no brain bleed possibly encouraged by the blood thinning meds was detected. Able to hunt again almost immediately, albeit with some soreness, was good news!
The gist of this recollection is to remind all of us, who enjoy the outdoors to be vigilant in all our activities. I will continue to hunt alone but am reminded to be careful and methodical in my pursuit of the outdoor life. All outdoor pursuits include some risk but should be mitigated by good sense. Be careful!