"Lucky Break" Triumph over tragedy
|Bows - Crossbows|
Slowly I peeled back the warm covers on the bed. Stiff and sore from the last six days spent in the cold, sleet, and rain of Buffalo County; I was left dreary and dazed. A cup of hot coffee was definitely in need. The freezing cold kitchen floor met me with an awakening jar. I quickly shuffled to the carpet and looked out at the morning blackness wondering what the monster buck I saw two days ago had on his agenda today.
I tried to imagine whose wall he would grace come gun season and if there was any way St. Hubert’s Outfitters out of Durand, Wisconsin would have me back for a second round at taking the monster. Imagining different scenarios in my mind, I mechanically made my way down to the basement to start a fire in the woodstove. Reaching for kindling, pain shot through my right elbow. A couple days before I had slipped down the face of a wet rock when leaving the woods coming down hard on my right elbow.
Striking a match to the dry kindling I knew it wouldn’t be long and my little pile of wood would quickly burn out. Seeing the woodbin was empty, I cringed at the thought of braving the cold of the garage to replenish it. But since I was the only one awake to do the deed, I slipped on a pair of hunting boots and sloughed into the garage.
The sub zero cold hit me like a hurricane and I gasped to catch my breath. Stepping down into the garage, a sudden movement caused me to jerk to attention. Looking up I saw the leaping 60 pound ball of fur and fluff of my Shepard/Chow cross dog “Annie” bounding my way. Excited to see me after six days away she had forgotten I came home late in the night. Far beyond the point of self-control she closed in with the velocity of a speeding bullet. Annie clipped me off at the knees sending me spinning wildly through the air, careening towards the cold cement floor.
Breaking the fall with my right elbow and face, I immediately found myself in horrifying pain. Fighting off a face washing and hair combing, compliments of Annie’s excited muzzle, I tried to struggle to my feet. I managed to half crawl and half stumble my way to back into the house; collapsing on the floor evaluating damage.
Years of being bucked off by the horses I was training taught me to never get too excited unless need be about injuries. Every thing seemed to bend but when to turned my right arm side to side it snapped. “OK”, I thought, “I’m in trouble…” After rousing my daughter, Brittany, from sleep to take me into the hospital it was confirmed. The same elbow I had fallen on two days ago was now broken. I was done not only with archery season for the year but gun seasons, both in and out of state would also have to be cancelled. Now I cried with good reason.
As an archery hunter I had never been in favor of the crossbow, but being faced with not being able to hunt at all, it was suddenly an option to entertain. Within days I had a crossbow permit and my Ten Point Crossbow was on the way. I soon learned, however, that having a permit and being able to shoot it responsibly were two different things. Weeks would pass before I could support even the smallest amount of weight with my right arm let alone master the act of pulling a trigger.
All hunting seasons were coming to an end when I booked a hunt with Forest of Antlers Outfitters in Minocqua, Wisconsin. It was my last chance at harvesting a whitetail this year and on a cold (-15 F) morning I headed out, coyote hat on my head and crossbow in hand. Every step brought a challenge as I was warned that if I were to slip and fall on my injured elbow it would most definitely mean surgery. So, walking on eggshells, I carefully stepped up the rungs leading to my treestand.
In this extreme cold, EVERTHING made noise. It was super still and sub zero. Any shift of weight caused the hard steel stand to pop. Three hours on stand was enough and I was about to give up when I caught movement through the pines 35 yards to my left. I stood stone-still and gripped my crossbow tight.
At a brisk walk, he passed my stand at 20 yards and just as so many problems become blessings, my cameraman moved the cold swing arm attached to the camera and it let out a loud squeak. This stopped the deer broadside long enough to put my crosshairs securely behind its shoulder and pull the trigger. It all happened so fast none of us could register what had just transpired. The deer hurriedly walked away and looked back once before piling up only 26 yards from the stand.
|A broken elbow can’t keep this girl down! When it comes to hunting, where there is a will, there IS a way!|
Reality set in as I high fived my cameraman. I did it!!!! The minus fifteen degree temps now seemed like summer! My heart raced as I clamored down the stand to put my hands on the massive rack. My smile almost literally froze in place.
The lessons learned through adversity are many and lasting. I learned that appreciation for the ones you love; the freedoms you have and the physical ability to do the things you do daily should never be taken for granted. Loose any one of them and your life will change forever. I also learned that there are a lot of people out there willing to help you when you’re down. I am thankful for a hunting community in which help can be found everywhere when the chips are down. Thank you friends, your unselfish sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. With your help it turned out to be a lucky break after all!
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