When hunting, I am often reminded of one of Gen. George Patton’s more famous quotes: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.” We’re not afield to kill or maim ourselves, instead to kill an animal. Yet every year unwitting sportsmen and women get themselves into pickles that can, and sometimes do, end up maiming or killing them.
While I have not yet been killed myself, I have been maimed more than once and terrified a lot. In no particular order, here are eight of my scariest moments in hunting.
I have never taken a bad fall, but it’s been close, and I do have friends who have broken bones. One TV cameraman I met years ago in camp was killed in a tree stand accident two years ago.
Every year, hunters get lost in the woods. Most are found with no serious injuries, but on occasion somebody gets hypothermia, breaks a leg, has a heart attack or incurs another injury that debilitates them. To maximize chances of this not happening to you, always tell others where you are going and when you expect to be back, carry a map and compass as a backup to any electronics and know how to use them, and pack basic survival items. One of the first things I did when I moved to Alaska many years ago was take wilderness survival training and medicine classes. You should too.
Thankfully, I did not have to. Back in the days before cell phones, satellite phone, and GPS units, I carried a walkie-talkie that got aircraft frequencies. In shock and getting a bit goofy, I faintly heard a jet somewhere, though I never saw it, and sent it a mayday. It was a FedEx cargo plane heading to Memphis from Anchorage. I got them to circle while I talked to the hospital through them. They dispatched a LifeGuard helicopter, and before dark (at 3 a.m.) I was in the emergency room, being prepped for an 8 a.m. surgery. Three surgeries later, the toes on my left foot are fused, I still have the plate that screwed the fibula in place, the calf is half the size of the one on my right leg, and my left hand is a bit funny looking. But I have killed several rams since then. Never, ever give up.