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Your worse perdicament - out in the field; not in a bar.


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Dave Erickson

Riding in the passenger side of my buddy's Chevy Monza in my 20's we got t-boned by a passed-out drunk driving a Galaxy 500 going 50+ mph. The point of impact was just a few inches behind my door which sent us into a wild spin clipping off a couple sets of highway signs before coming to rest sideways in the ditch. We walked away somehow, and that was as close as I've come.

 

In high school the neighbor boys and I spotted a rooster pheasant in the ditch, and of course we piled out the car. As I was aiming one of the boys behind me shot and my long 70's hair whipped around my head at the blast. That was probably as close as the car accident.

 

Been lost in the big woods a couple times and while not fun for one minute, I got out. First time was up near McGrath, MN hunting deer as a high schooler. Just got turned around, and what a sinking feeling when you realize you have no idea which way to go. The 2nd time I was old enough to know better. I was in the Chequamegon NF and had forgot my compass, so Zeke, my first GWP, and I just stayed on linear stabs; sun on back  going in, sun on face going out. It was a slow day and in that last golden hour we started getting into birds. It had clouded up and between that and the best chances for  getting a bird we got off track. Made it out and bought my first GPS that week. 

 

One of the worst hunting ordeals in fairly recent years was when my 11 year old Draht was young we got lost in a near blizzard in a sprawling WMA on the IA/MN border. I hunted an unfamiliar area and a light snow just kept getting thicker and thicker. I decided to head for the truck and got going in the wrong direction. We walked and walked and walked. Nothing looked remotely familiar in the dusky snowstorm.  Wet and freezing I finally saw a silent car materialize in the distance and disappear, so I made it to this gravel road and walked to a couple farms for help. No one home at either, so I made it to a highway and came upon a little rural insurance office/home. I had figured out where I was by then, and I asked for a lift to my truck. The lady wasn't very positive about it, but finally her adolescent son, who sensed we had just been through hell got on her a little and she reluctantly agreed to let Gus and I ride in the back of the pickup to my truck a few miles away. She said no way the dog and I could ride in their SUV. The ride was appreciated, but I almost froze to death in that wind in the back of the truck! As a side note, there is a population of huns (the bird) in that country, but they are tough to get. At one point and after I gave up on hunting I noticed Gus hit a flash point, and out went a bird behind me. At the last moment it registered that it was a hun, so I swung my old 16 gauge Rem. 11 in that storm and took my only MN hun that day.

 

There are other not so great things including breaking through a frozen slough up to my neck on my way to a deer stand on an 8 degree morning a mile from camp. The ice broke and my feet slid down the ice-panel, so my arm with my prize Model 71 Winchester had to push myself up off the bottom, then I busted my way to shore. I became a believer in wool clothes that day, although I did strip down and wring it all out the best I could on shore.

 

Almost sank my boat in a half frozen Mississippi River when I was about 25. Another DUMB thing. I saw a blue anchor rope coming up from the bottom below the dam and I thought I'd just jerk it out with my 14" flat and 25 Johnson. I tied the rope to a handle on the back of the boat and the second I started pulling the stern of my boat started immediately going down and within an inch of going under. I cut the throttle and quickly cut the rope with the boat knife. 

 

About 5 years ago I hit a submerged log in the Mississippi River going full tilt with my 60 hp tiller. The green log broke off-center but not completely through, and the long end pulled my motor to the left which sent me into a wildass right turn. I found myself doing a backward somersault over the back and just caught myself with my right hand on the side of the boat and the left still holding the tiller of which I couldn't let go. I finally got my wits and reached down an turned the key off. I just floated for about 5-10 minutes in shock. There were a couple guys in a boat on the next wingdam. I asked them if they saw what happened and they said no. 

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No one got hurt but this was a rather funny misadventure. I was at a friend’s place out in the country one night and after a few to many beers four of us decided to go out in my 4X4 Willys PU and try to shine some deer. I was cruising very slowly through some really tall weeds with a friend beside me and two guys standing in the PU bed in back with guns. I’d mounted a grab bar on the rear of the cab. With the tall weeds I couldn’t see where I was going at all but since I was crawling along at only a walking pace (and a little drunk) I wasn’t worried. The next thing I knew the front of the truck dropped straight down about 3’, then a pair of guns come bouncing off the hood followed by my two friends who’d just been catapulted over the roof of the cab. I’d driven into the foundation of a former farmhouse! I guess it served us right for hunting deer the way we were. Fortunately, no one was hurt and with the help of another friend’s 4X4 we were able to pull my PU out of the hole.

Steve

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Three times cheated death in the outdoors.  First time at the wise old age of 19.  Was hiking in the Shenandoah National Park with the BIL.  We were planning on camping for 3 days.  I was dry fly fishing for native brook trout.  They had to be 8" long to creel.  Being the smart educated College kid I was I was trying to figure out what was 8" long without removing my pants (Humor intended).  Decided the only reasonable 8" choice was my Kabar knife in the sheath hooked to my belt.  Sure enough it came in at 8" long.  Anyway, after catching a pile of 6" brookies I finally found a stud that I figured out was circa 8" long.  Had the trout in my left hand trying not to hurt it while unsheathing the knife with my right hand.  Got the knife out and held the brookie with my left hand by the lips while putting the kabar in the right hand.  Was squatting on a big river rock at the time.  Well the fish flopped and while trying to catch it with my right hand (with knife firmly in my grasp) I managed to plunge all 5" of the blade about 1" from the family jewels (more specifically the left jewel).  Immediately the blood started shooting out of my thigh.  Dropped the fish and dropped the knife and had my oh Sh** moment.   Applied pressure as hard as I could and sat down.  About 2 minutes later I pulled the hand off and the blood shot out about 8" in a stream and I thought I hit the artery and I'm toast.  My goofy (now Ex BIL) saw the blood and immediately thought we should use a fish hook and some line and sew it up.  While that was going on I was starting to feint (all sounds stop and everything goes to black and white #weirdfeeling).   Applied some additional pressure and just sat back down again and hearing and vision came back. 

 

Trying to figure out our next plan to avoid death and suddenly a pair of hikers show up.  A very athletic Arlington County Firefighter and his girl friend.   He takes about 30 seconds to surmise the situation and tells me to lay down and he will get some help and promptly runs about 2.5 miles back to the road  and contacts the Madison County Rescue Squad via land line (no cell phones back then).   Left his very pretty girl friend to hold my hand to comfort me (fine with that for sure).  Well about an hour later as I'm sitting by the stream biding my time, 4 guys with Madison County Rescue Squad shirts appear along with a aluminum stretcher.  The apply compresses and lots of wrapping and load me up on the Stretcher and start carrying me out back to the ambulance.   While this is going on we have a massive Thunderstorm pop out with lighting bouncing all around the canyon (trout streams always seem to be in canyons).  We were walking on the Appalachian trail and some parts are really really narrow.  Hence at one point with the rain falling on all of us they tell me I have to get out of the stretcher and walk about 100 yards up a hill.   Get out and start walking with them in front of me and behind me and the wound starts bleeding like nuts.  Press the hand down firmly and keep walking.   Get to the top of the hill where the trail gets wider and then they put me back in the stretcher and carry me the rest of the way out to the ambulance.   About an hour or so to Charlottesville hospital.   Arrive and they take me in and start looking me over and determine that I had missed the artery by 1/2".  Sew me up and give me some shots and release me.   For some time after that in School I was referred to by my close friends as "One nut Tut".

 

Above is probably the best of the 3.  The other two include falling 20 feet out of tree stand and busting 3 ribs and cracking a vertebrae during deer season and flipping a canoe on a river while duck hunting in January in 38 degree water.  The duck adventure was somewhat comical in the end as I ended up renting a black and pink wet suit with matching mask to go back and dive for two duck guns which were in 8 feet of water.  I'll save those two stories for another time.   Can't empty your gun all at once.  Need to keep a few rounds in the chamber.  :)  

 

 

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Dick Sellers

My job up in Alaska involved a lot of aerial survey work - roughly 200 hours of flying a year.  One early Dec. I was returning home from a moose survey.  As it was getting towards dark, we were flying at about 1000'.  All of a sudden the engine started to sputter, and the pilot quickly switched to the other wing tank, and the engine smoothed out.  I gave the pilot a quizzical look, and he replied -"Oh there's still some gas in that wing tank", and tilted the plane so the near-empty tank would drain the little remaining gas to the engine.  Sure enought we flew along for another 5 minutes or so with the plane in tilted attitude.  Then all of a sudden the engine quit.  The pilot frantically switched back to the full wing tank and tried to get the engine started back up.  No dice.  As with some other misadventures, by the grace of God there was a frozen lake within glide distance and we landed very quietly - but safely.  Made it home with ample fuel in the other wing tank.

 

On another occasion I was checking on radio collared brown bears in the early spring as they were emerging from dens.  We were in a R22 helicopter because there were a couple of shed collars to retrieve.  I had stashed some avgas at a commercial fishery cabin where we were going to spend the night.  So when we landed there I went in to talk to the fishery manager while the pilot refueled.  Now this guy was pretty young and was not the pilot I had requested, but it was a pretty simple routine job, so not much could go bad.  Wrong.  I went back out and the pilot was already in the chopper and I climbed in.  From the cabin we were headed directly into the mountains to check some other bears.   About 5 minutes into the flight as we were climbing up into the mountains, the engine quit.  Again my good luck prevailed as there was a tiny marsh directly below us and the pilot managed to auto-rotate and put it down there with only enough momentum to rock the copper to the extent that the rotor grazed the tail boom.  We had a "sober" walk back to the cabin.  Turns out the pilot had not done a test drain after filling up and there had been some water in that drum of gas. The next day the owner of the helicopter company showed up with another chopper and I finished the job with him,  I found out later that summer that the young pilot had crashed another chopper and was "dismissed".

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1 hour ago, Canuck said:

This one time a bunch of us went hunting sharpies and huns. We packed this really big lunch. When lunch time rolled around my buddy went to get the spread out of the cooler....no lunch...he had left it at home. We almost starved. We still talk about that day.

 

Ah ha, but you had birds to eat. That is what Jeremiah Johnson would have done. 😁 

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4 hours ago, C.J.L. said:

Mountain fell on me in British Columbia while bear hunting. That sucked.

 

Also fell though the ice on a beaver pond with my snowshoes on.  It's impossible to pull yourself back out with snowshoes still on.  Had to reach down and unzip my boot and kick my feet out then fished my boots and shoes out with my walking stick.  That really sucked too.  

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Oh jeez, I know the feeling! Nothing terrible happened but one Christmas I went for a midnight ramble in the sheen of a yuletide full moon. Cut kitty corner across a 2 acre beaver pond and fell through. At first panic, I thought I was a goner but then I chuckled as my feet hit bottom at waist deep. Still, it took many minutes of struggle to reach shore. To prevent bad things from happening, I ran the half mile home.

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Two that still frighten the daylights out of me.

 

The first involved crossing a small pond in Aroostook County Maine during the winter on a snowmobile.  The pond seemed to be not more than a puddle.  Wrong.  I went through the ice into seven feet of water.  I most always carry ice spikes and they saved my life as did another snowmobiler who was passing and gave me a ride back to my truck.  I narrowly avoided hypothermia.  To this day I avoid water crossings.

 

The second involved my uncle's Beechcraft Baron Twin.  I was flying north from Eastern Shore Maryland to Princeton, Maine.  I stopped at Worcester, MA to refuel, a terrific underused airport with excellent facilities.  After departing, I retracted the landing gear but the indicator light and the beep did not sound.  I jostled the aircraft several times, the beep sounded and the indicator light flashed.  After ten minutes to think about this, I started to become nervous.  I changed my heading toward Fitchburg, MA, slowed to approach speed and lowered the landing gear.  No locked light and no beep.  I contacted Boston Center and declared an emergency.  I was rerouted back to Worcester.

 

It was setting in that I was in heap big trouble.  The stall speed of the Baron is about 85 mph and a safe landing speed is about 100 or so with a safe landing distance of 2500 feet  I'd be engaging the ground at that speed with uncertain landing gear.  At least the runway was 7000 ft long by 150 ft wide.  The enormity of my problem set in as the air traffic controller cleared the pattern and I saw a sea of flashing lights on airport crash trucks, city fire trucks, police vehicles, a heavy rescue truck and an ambulance.  Now I was scared sh**less.

 

The landing was without incident.  The mob of responders cheered which helped my stress level a lot.  The indicator circuitry in the landing gear had gone bad, the gear itself was fine.  Three hours later, the Baron was repaired and I continued north.  Thankfully, this is my only aviation incident.  I no longer fly as the cost of general aviation has become prohibitive.

 

Perk

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I have s few close calls, but one stands above the rest.

 

It’s late January and duck season is about to close.  I was a young man with a wife and newborn at home and decided that I would hunt the last Saturday even though a major cold fron was supposed to come through about 10-11am.  The new born is now a high school senior.

 

I get out in the lake in the 14’ jonboat and 6hp mud motor that I’d used for a duck hunting and fly fishing skiff many years,  Got to the honey hole through the few miles of stump field in the relative calm of the early morning.  I run that I had made both ways by dead reckoning hundreds of times before in many conditions without incident.

 

I set out the decoys and harvested a limit within 30 minutes.  Then sat there for an hour and watch ducks pile into my decoys.  To this day it was one of the most mesmerizing and beautiful sights I’ve seen while hunting.

 

 The temperature started to dip as decoys were taken up, but as I pulled out the slew and saw the heaving lake body before me I was gobsmacked.  The front was very early and blowing significantly harder than forecasted.  I had a three mile run with two of it through heavy stumps with a trailing wind blowing a steady 20-25 with gusts into the mid 30s (as my frightened beautiful wife would tell me when I arrived home).  Even as a competent high win windsurfer and catamaran racer I’d rarely seen such a sight.

 

Pausing to turn on the two 500gph bilge pumps installed in the back of the boat, I began the run.  Skipping many close calls, including nearly being thrown from the boat while striking a stump hidden beneath the waves...  

 

As it began to sleet, the corner was turned into the sheltered slew than contained the boat ramp and I looked  down to find the water depth in the boat was almost up to the top of the battery case for the bilge pump battery.  Both bilge pumps were still running full speed...

 

Go with grace.

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On a Boundary Waters canoe trip, I planned a loop paddling a lake and river chain, and riding our mountain bikes back the last leg to the Jeep. So we locked our bikes at the landing on Comfort Lake, drove about 9 miles to the entry point landing and put in the canoe there. Paddled down Hog Creek to Perent Lake, stayed one night. Then down the Parent River to Lake Isabella, for another night. Finally out on the Island River back to Comfort Lake. Discovered a few more portages on the Island River than the map showed, so we didn't get to Comfort until late afternoon instead of noon. Paddled the South shore of the lake looking for the landing, none there. A real head scratcher, no other lake we could possibly be at. But the lake was on the border of the map, the bottom half of the lake was literally "off the map".  I spied a thin line of trees with water on the other side, and discovered a short portage there. Turns out Comfort Lake is really like two lakes, shaped like an hourglass. So found the landing on the South shore after all, got on the bikes and started riding. Then suddenly our blue-sky day brewed up gray, windy, rain, lighting and thunder, then hail.  Ever get pelted with hail the size of shooter marbles? Ouch.

 

So we took cover under a little jack pine, crouched against the trunk hearing hail pop off the plastic bike helmet. The storm sounded like a freight train. Later we learned a tornado touched down a few miles North of us at Ferne Lake. The storm blew past as quick as it came, and we started riding again. In low spots the rain water was up to my crank case, peddling each foot under water on the downstroke. The temp had dropped about 20 degrees and we were soaking wet, and my buddy bonked. I told him take your time,  I'll ride ahead and bring back the Jeep. So I was riding alone, the sun came out again, when the brush along the trail erupted-- and a bull moose ran out to the trail in front of me. One of the largest, most dangerous animals in North America was spooked and 20 yards away. But it ran away from me, and I followed the volleyball-sized hoof prints in the mud at a distance.

 

I got to the Jeep, drove around all the downed trees, and retrieved my buddy and our canoe. We still had to drive back the Cities 5 hours and it was after dark. Soon I fell asleep at the wheel on Highway 1, but woke up when the tires hit the gravel shoulder. Made it home okay.

Anyway when people say be careful out there I always say it's more likely the drive up and back will kill you before the woods will.

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VizslavsBird

Hunting coyotes with greyhounds in the mid 70's.  Was turning the truck and slowing down to release the hounds when the 16.5" tire on the right front of the ford released from the rim (terrible problem with 16.5" tires and low air pressure).  Corner to corner flips 2 times and not one of the four of us were wearing seat belts.  We survived, the greyhounds didn't.

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I forgot about this one. Me and a buddy rolled into a state park in Ky for some Mtn biking back in the 80s before they were enough of us to get kicked off the trails. We pulled into the primitive campsite at dusk. It was very dark by the time I was finishing putting up my tent. I looked over at the picnic table and the loaf of Wonder bread jumped off onto the ground and took off through the woods. The only way I could see it was that it was white. Now I like to eat and sandwiches were going to be a staple of our diet for the weekend, I wasn't going to let that loaf get away. I chased that damn raccoon dragging our dinner at a full run, blindly through a dark woods. Finally the loaf stopped and I picked it up. Bout them my buddy arrived with a light that revealed one more step would have taken me over a 200 foot cliff. 

 

Edit:  That story reminds me of another from the same trip.  In the heat of the next afternoon, we took a break from biking to swim in a beautiful mountain lake.  It had about a 15 foot high rock cliff overlooking it, out of which grew a tall pine.  Of course the locals had attached a long rope to it, so that you could swing out over the water just like a Mtn. Dew commercial.  We had a blast.  There were several locals swimming there and they kept referring to one young man as “High Test”, in a manner you would a toddler.  They even led him around by the arm, told him where to sit on the ground, saying “You just sit here High Test, don’t go anywhere”, to which he obliged as they swam. He had a dull look on his face and unknowing eyes, didn’t speak and just sat there and played in the dirt.  I asked why they called him High Test, to which they replied “He likes to sniff gasoline”.  I asked if he was high now and they said “No….he’s like that permanent now.”  

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WI Outdoor Nut

This is going back more than 20 years ago.  I had just moved to the twin cities to start a new job, and really didn't know anyone, but was starting to race mountain bikes.  It was April, and I knew there was a storm coming, but I figured I would have about 2 hours to ride before it hit.  The trail was a back and out along the Minnesota River, single track.  I was planning on doing about 20-25 miles total.  No issues going east from where I parked.  Hit my turn-around area and was traveling back west for about 2 miles when I heard the crack of lighting.  Okay, not ideal, but the likelihood I get hit was relatively low, so kept pedaling.  Then the rain started, followed by heavy hail.  I was in a prairie type setting but there was a super large cotton wood I could tuck behind.  That kept most of the hail off of me. 

 

The hail stopped and with only light rain coming down I took back on the trail.  Made it another 4 miles or so and the hail started back up.  Just thought I would grin and bear it and heading for the truck.  I was within 2 miles and needed to cross a wooden bridge.  Was going at a pretty good clip and at the end of the bridge to keep motorized vehicles off, they had cement blocks covering part of the bridge.  I hit that area, tapped by back break and due to the hail on top of the wood bridge, the bridge was like an ice skate.  I went into a skid, flew over my bars, remember my teeth digging into the mixture of stones and dirt and was knocked out. 

 

I don't know how long I was out, but woke up to someone tapping my arm.  It was an older gentleman out with her grand daughter.  What he was doing there I beyond me, but he was my angel that day.  I remember my face being numb and waking up to a pool of blood on the left side of my face.  I took off my glove to see if I still had front teeth as I could not feel anything in that area.  Teeth were still there, but the skin on the bridge of my nose was gone, my teeth punched through my lip, and my kneecap skin was tore off.  He had me jump in his truck and he drove me to an urgent care.  They would not admit me and sent me off to an emergency hospital.  There they stitched my lip up, bandaged my nose and used a wire brush to get the stones out of my knees (which became nastily infected later). 

 

Still have scars to the this day.  Took about 3-4 years for all the stones to work out of my kneecap area.  Skin on nose grew back and tough to see where it was gone. 

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4 hours ago, WI Outdoor Nut said:

I was within 2 miles and needed to cross a wooden bridge. 

 

Was this the old Cedar Bridge by chance?  I used to mountain bike that area myself.  One of my favorite stories (not near death related) involved me shooting carp off that very same bridge one spring day.  The bridge is closed except to foot and bike traffic and I would perch on the old pipe railing and shoot carp as they swam by and pile them on the bridge decking.  I had a deal with a local bait shop guy who used the carp to feed leeches.  One afternoon some crazy animal rights woman sees what I am doing and decides to holler obscenities at me as she speeds by on her bike.  Her only problem was that while she was unleashing her tirade at me she failed to notice a sizable carp that had flipped into her path and when she hit it full tilt with the bike she went down like a ton of bricks.  She was all scun up and smashed up and full of splinters from the old wooden decking.  What was worse from her perspective was that she landed almost at the feet of the dirty redneck she was just taunting a few seconds before.  I will never forget the look on her face.  Priceless!

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