Too much division among the hunting community. Crossbow v compound v recurve. Sights v instinctive. Public v private. I wish good will on all hunters. Maybe something that can bring everyone together is safety. That is universal, or at least it should be. Ill gladly share my tale if that would help another hunter young or old avoid a whole lotta b.s.
It was 96, i was 17 and although deer were doing their part i had not yet conected. Gun season came first weekend no luck. Second weekend rolled around we figured wed do some local drives that produced before. Plan was let me off on the 4 lane highway on back of property and my old man and uncle would swing around the front of the swamp. In those days we had baker climbers and used the little seats you could tie off around the tree, most times. This time all i had was the little seat and the plan was either just sit on the ground, or if i found a decent option hop up a tree. I found a scrubby oak on the edge of the swamp, up i went. I did have a rope to pull the unloaded gun up and i settled on a nice set of two limbs, tied that seat on, pulled the gun up and liked my chances. Maybe 14 feet up. I was expecting my old man to come thru maybe in an hour or so. Not 5 min after getting set i hear racket on the hill i just walked on, i was sure it was a guy it was so loud. Wrong, it was a buck, he ran on the hillside i was on i cracked off 2 with the 870. Got him he started floppin like a fish out of water, and made it to heavy brush and trees that blocked my view. I thought, oh no if he runs across that road i was let off on he might get away. I gotta get down and go finish him off. So i took the three shells out, and thought i could just carry it down. I thought wrong. Slippery cause winter? Yes. Exctited bc of buck? Yes. Foolish cause i was 17? Yes. I dont know how i slipped, but i did and i realized i was falling, threw the gun, and i hit the ground, hard. Had i hit plinko style on the way down i think i would have been alright, i didnt and i wasnt. I knew it was bad. Im sure i went into shock. I had the actual real thought, at 17 that, is this it god? Do i die right here? So i yelled best i could. My dad was a long ways away. Well. The 2 guys unbeknownst to us who scared that buck to me had driving ideas of their own...and within 5 min they came to aid. This was pre everyone having cell days. I remember the one tellimg me how nice the buck was...i thought,,,come on guy 911. 911. So one goes to find my old man, one goes to the hwy to flag down help. Helicopter ride to the hospital. Never walk again and all that jazz. I learned, i tell people think of riding a bike. Weld a 30 lb weight on the front, now ride it. Balance has to be relearned, and youll never ride or turn as well after. Kinda. Most folks can deal with paralysis id say. Bowel and bladder as well as other issues can be quite daunting. Im a champion though. Im good. Im a father now so i get it. But My dad took it real hard. Came home and burned all the hunting clothes along with the 870 hard. Of the whole ordeal i wish he wouldnt have felt so bad, but now i get it. Things work out for a reason. I still finished college. Still got a good carreer that lets me use my brain more than legs and back. Wouldnt have met my wife, had my son. And its helped define who i am. But yeah, wish it didnt happen. Wish i was safer. Wish i had a harness, wish i coulda tried life w o a spinal cord injury. I hunt off the ground most times. If my bro totes the summit for me, harness 100% of the time. I cant go far, but that generally means i dont sweat. I have my chances every season, still. Fathers. Mothers. Every season hunters make the same mistake. Go to froedert in nov, there will be a couple of people there with injuries from falls from stands many turn out worse than me. I thanked my surgeon and therapists, but I regretted never having a chance to say thanks in person to the rescue folks who cut me out of the woods. Anybody remembers rescuing a skinny kid in 96 by bloomfield, you made the difference thanks. What i was doing then was by no means the most dangerous things i did in trees, its amazing i didnt fall more. So. My advice, from someone who learned the real hard way is safety safety safety always always always. I also learned the easy solution to the dilemma of the 50 yrd shot. Hunt in a stand with no 50 yrd shots.