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Never too old to relearn a lesson

fingershooter

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This year was shaping up to be a great one for our elk bow-hunt. The trail-cams had bulls at all of our stands and sites. They also had griz on pretty much all of them as well. Good news was way less wolf sign than last year. We had a very comfortable camp set up, firewood cut and chopped - no fire ban this year, YAY!
The four of us got into camp on different days but by day 3 of the season, we were all there enjoying a delicious beverage in the hot sun. Plans were made for the following morning and we were just chilling til then.
One of the guys asked if anyone was interested in going out glassing and bugling and generally scouting for the evening but the three of us declined the invitation as we knew where we would be on the morrow. Well the fellow (let's call him Bob) said he was going and told us where he'd be and he wouldn't be back till after dark. "Good on you, Bob! We will hold down the fort and kill a couple more refreshments."
Off Bob went dressed casually (light pants, light short sleeved button shirt, and running shoes). He was also armed to the teeth with bow and defender shotgun and bear spray -overkill since he wasn't leaving his vehicle. He also had a gmrs radio (we all had and were set to the same frequency) which he turned on, a Satellite phone, and every first aid and survival tool and item that anyone could think of. He was always over packed and his day-pack weight would attest to it.
The three of us, Larry, Curly, and Moe, had a great time in front of a roaring fire until well after dark. Hmmm Where's Bob? Radio calls got us nothing. "Well he said not till after dark and we all know that he'll stay till the very end to get an answer. Let's give him more time. After all, it's easily a half hour drive to where he was going."
Let me tell you about Bob. He's the best hunter that I have ever spent any time with. He is fearless, relentless, and able. He is smart - doesn't take stupid chances and will take the long route if it's safer. Time has no meaning to him. He will take as long as it takes and he will get his quarry. I always said, "I feel sorry for the animal that he decides to take because it will happen no matter how long of arduous the hunt or stalk," I have also said that "He is one of the two or three people that I expect to find perished in the bush." A little more about Bob. His knees are completely shot - that did not keep him from coming on a 22km pack-in Dall's sheep hunt with me 3 years ago. His elbows are shot - bad enough to be able to only take one shot with his bow if the situation should arise, and he's gotten two P&Y animals in the past year. He has other health issues that deal with his stamina - and he will outlast many people 1/2 or 1/3 his age.
So, come 10 pm, well after dark. we have to go look for him. Larry (that's me) and Moe head out leaving Curly to man camp. We don't get very far (10 minutes and well within radio range) when we find Bob's vehicle parked on the side of the road, facing back towards camp. We find the doors unlocked, and everything, and I mean everything in the vehicle. Gun, bow, radio (still on), phone, EVERYTHING. Hmmm....He must have been returning to camp and had to relieve himself. We yelled, we screamed, we honked the horns. Nothing. "Maybe he fell and hit his head or just passed out for some reason. Moe and I searched the immediate area with our headlamps. It was treacherous and steep and we risked tripping and hurting ourselves. There was an old road that had been put to bed nearby and we walked that for 100 meters or so but it was rough as well and no sign of Bob. I'm telling you it was the crappiest feeling I have ever had. Moe and I knew that he was close by because Bob would never have left his vehicle like that.
By now it was midnight so we decided that to continue searching in the dark would be too dangerous for ourselves and we would go back to camp and return at first light. We turned in for a few sleepless hours and then prepared to leave as the skies were lightening up. Moe and I were to go look and Curly was to remain in camp and head the 2 hours to the nearest town for help when we called and instructed him to do so. We could not speak or look at leach other without getting tears in our eyes. We were looking for a body at this point. Seven minutes from camp, as we were winding our way up one side of the mountain towards the other side where Bob's vehicle still was, I saw some alder branches across the road that were not there a few hours previous. We pulled ahead to a better vantage point and got out to check. "Hallowwwww..." we heard coming from up the road. "Bob! We yelled. "I'm up the road!" He called back. " I broke my ankle!"
We drove up and sure enough, there was Bob, dragging himself up the road towards his vehicle. "I broke it bad. I'll need surgery on this one." Turns out the three broken bones and two severed ligaments would need surgery and a long recovery to mend. He had to drag himself because the condition of his knees and elbows would ano allow him to crawl.
He had walked up the old road farther than he'd planned, right to the top of the ridge. He thought that it ended before it did. Finding nothing, he turned to return and broke his ankle right there. Knowing that the decommissioned road would be torture to drag himself back on, Bob decided to head down the other side of the mountain. The brush was way thicker than he was hoping and he'd pretty much torn the pants right off of himself. Just his belt loops and below his knees was left of his backside. His butt and legs were a raw mess as was the rest of his body which was bruised everywhere. His shirt had been torn up to splint his ankle. Four days in hospital and 6 weeks non weight bearing at home and now he can get around a bit on crutches and such. Physiotherapy is in the picture now.
He is a lucky man. He had nothing in his pockets - no matches, lighter, whistle, flashlight, radio.
His season is shot. Our elk trip done. My will to hunt about quenched for the year. What was shaping up to be potentially an epic trip was turned to disaster because of one massive brain fart. Complacency has no part in the bush.
I hope this re-enforces the lessons we have all learned and maybe gives a few to those less experienced. It certainly woke this boy up!
I will also mention that the average age of the four of us is well past 64! We all have over 40 years experience and have hunted pretty much everything there is to hunt in B.C,
 
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Head Lice

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Thank you for sharing this story fingershooter . . .
Sometimes 'the domino effect' will catch up to you. Glad you found Bob, and hope that the next season finds you all together for another try . . . .
 

fingershooter

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So glad your story ended up with you finding him. We lost a guy once. Similar scenario....only we found him sound asleep in an old tree stand that night.
I cannot tell you how much it affected me. I could have gone back and sat in my stand and had a very good chance at a bull. I wasn't even interested in a road hunt for grouse. We've been on back-pack hunts when he'd gotten back in the early hours of the morning, in the dark, finding the tent because I had a light on illuminating it and I wondered then, but this was a whole different level of anxiety. He was the one guy who was infallible. I guess none of us are.
 
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