Before I get to the story that backs up the title let me say this. Although this post doesn’t directly involve wood working it does involve a tree and some cussing. So in that sense it is a little like wood working. Enjoy.
The rain drizzled onto the windshield the entire hour-long drive to the farm we hunted on a regular basis. By “we” I mean my cousin and I. This wasn’t our first hunt in the rain and every time before went off without a hitch.
Headlights bounced off trees as we made our way along the winding back roads that lead to our destination. We parked beside the nearly hundred year old barn like we had a thousand times before. We collected our archery equipment, rain gear and tree stands and started the nearly half mile walk to where we wanted to hunt that dreary morning.
With hurried efficiency I secured my climbing tree stand to the tree I wanted to hunt from that morning. Now mind you it is still nearly half an hour before daylight so I was ahead of schedule a little bit. Right here is where my luck takes a turn for the worst.
I reach the height I wanted to be at on the tree and secured myself with my safety straps and turned around in the stand to hoist by bow from the ground by the rope attached to it. As I started pulling the rope it loosened its grip on the limb of my bow and there I was nearly twenty feet off the ground in a tree with no bow to hunt with.
What to do?
The thought of just packing up my stuff and going back to the truck crossed my mind. I wish I had done that. Instead I removed my safety straps and climbed down and reattached my bow so I could hunt. By this time day is just breaking so I worked as fast as possible to get back to my safety straps and back to hunting. It’s this climb back up that changed a day of hunting into the day I nearly died.
I was only a couple of feet from where my straps were when my climber slipped on the wet bark of the tree. I fell straight back from the tree and fell about sixteen or eighteen feet to the ground. I don’t remember the fall. The last thing I remember is the tree getting farther away as I fell away from it. I hit the ground back first. I’m not sure how long I lay there for.
I came too myself and found my glasses and put them on. I looked up at my stand and realized what had happened. I was cussing because how in the hell was I going to get back up there now. It was during this tirade that I felt something warm running down my chin. I pulled off my glove to wipe it away and discovered it was the most rich red blood I had ever seen. I thought, “Shit”, I was seriously hurt and had to get to an ER as soon as possible. The nearest one was about 25 miles away and that was after the hike out to the truck.
With labored breathing I walked toward the logging road that led to the truck. It was also fortunate that my cousin had set up his stand closer to truck than me so he was on the way. He seen me coming and said, “What’s wrong?”
I told him “I fell, we gotta go!”
I think he broke some kind of world record for climbing out of a tree that morning. Within a couple of minutes we were making our way to the truck and hence the ER. There were a couple of points along that walk that I don’t remember but I do remember him asking me if I wanted him to call 911 and have a helicopter come to pick me up. “No just get me to Corydon,” I remember thinking. Not sure I even answered his inquiry.
We made it to the truck and he helped put my seatbelt on and we took off towards help. Now under normal circumstances the drive is about 30 or 35 minutes. He made it in about 15 or 20. I don’t remember very much of that drive. Only a couple of snippets of being on the interstate and driving through downtown Corydon.
The staff at the ER could not have been better. After a bunch of X-rays and blood work they determined I had four broken ribs to go along with a punctured and collapsed left lung. They said in another 10 minutes the other lung would have collapsed as well. Extremely lucky I made it in time. They inserted a chest tube and got me patched up enough to send to my hometown hospital to recover. I spent a week in there and another five weeks after that recovering before returning to normal activities like work or golf.
I can’t stress enough if you hunt from any elevated platform to use the utmost caution while doing so. If possible always hunt with someone. If you can’t hunt with anyone at least let someone know where you are hunting. I’m convinced that if I had been alone that morning I wouldn’t be alive and typing this right now. Everything happens for a reason. And I’m telling this now to maybe convince just one person to take greater precautions and possibly save their life.
Thanks for reading. Be good. God bless.