Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It Feels Good to Get Out

Well, last week I got yet another new cast, and this one was going to be my salvation. I was getting a walking cast that I could actually walk on. I have had a walking cast for a while, but it was just because I kept breaking them and they needed something that could stand up to the awesome power the is me. But this one was for real. And when the doctor came in and told me, I couldn't help but grin ear to ear.

The second I got home, I started making the plan to get out. My brother in law was out hunting, so I called him to make sure that we weren't going to be hunting the same land. He told me he was actually heading in and going to grab his son, and that they would swing by and pick me up. Rock on.

So I gathered up all of my gear and waited. I felt like a kid in bed on Christmas Eve. I must have gone through my gear a dozen times while waiting. Then I heard the car pull up in the driveway. The closest thing I can use to describe my actions was they were similar to that of a dog that knows it's master just came home from work. I had completely forgot about my leg. I had not taken any pain medication as I did not want to go into the woods with a firearm while feeling those effects. But, for the moment, the pain could not have any farther from my mind.

As we are getting ready, my brother in law got a phone call. It was his work, and guess who was called in? Well, it looks like it's going to be just my nephew and myself. We can do this. So, my wonderful wife drops us off in the back of 7 Lakes State Park, and we make our way into the woods. I can feel my heart pounding to the point where I can hear it. We cross the wood line into the woods and pick out a nice log to sit on and wait. After about 25 minutes, we move to another spot. After another 25 minutes and nothing, we move again. The rest of our night went about the same. We would wait 25 minutes or so and move to the next spot, seeing the occasional hunter and a few crows. By the end of the hunt, we had made it all the way to the front of the park, and we only saw one chipmunk.

The next day, I was in more pain than I had been in for a long time. And it was more than worth it. Not only did I get a young hunter out, but I myself felt like a new hunter going out for the first time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Quick Update And A Realization

For those of you that have been following, I had an incident that left me with a cast that will be here for most of the hunting season, if not the entire season.

Well, I now have my third cast on. It's a walking cast that I can't walk on. Kind of a cruel joke if you ask me! But I destroyed my last cast, so that had to give me something that could survive my daily abuse. On the good side, it is healing according to plan. So, as of now, no surgery is needed. Thank God for that!

To make things easier, and to make sure that there is no movement of the bone fragments, I have been put in a wheelchair that I am using 90% of the time now. At first, I had this idea that I would be more able to head into the woods with my new wheels. Well, I had a rude awakening the other day. I went to a local carnival with my family like we do every year. And moving around on the pavement was not bad. But when my daughter wanted to go to the kids game tent, everything changed. It was on a grassy lot next to the parking lot, and let me tell you, soft ground is a whole different ballgame. Every divot became a little wall that I would have to try to maneuver over. Every little soft spot seemed like I was sinking in tar.

I have said a lot in the last few weeks how much respect I have now for those men and women that have life challenges (the majority much worse than mine, and permanent) and still get out and enjoy the wonderful gift of the outdoors that God has given us. And I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I can't help but give more praise to those men and women. I find out more every day about how hard things can be and how many things I have taken for granted.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Hard Hunt

In my last installment, I expressed how I was feeling about my situation and how it is affecting my hunting lifestyle. Now, while I still have those feelings, I am also in awe. When it comes down to it, my plight is rather small. I have a broken leg, and nothing more. I can still move around with the use of crutches, or a wheelchair, if the going is rough. And, although I will be in this state for the majority of the hunting season, come next season (God willing), I will be healed and in tip-top shape for my hunts.

What put me in awe was a group of people that I met last year at a hunting expo that I had a booth at last year in Imlay City, Michigan. The group is called Wheelin' Team 457. Their mission statement is, “to provide the physically challenged with indoor and outdoor sports and recreation”. They also strive to spread awareness. Now, the gentlemen that I met weren't in a cast like I am. They were limited to the use of a wheelchair and two of them had slightly limited use of their arms. And they were talking about a goose hunt they had been on! We talked for a bit about what they do and hunts they had been on. You simply can't help but be inspired. These guys have the passion that hunting is really all about.
And they represent that passion. They embody the true spirit of hunting and sportsmanship.

I used to take for granted how easy it was to simply go out for a quick hunt. To know what will be involved every time you hunt, and that it will never get any easier, and still have the drive to do it time and time again is something I can only hope to have for the remainder of my days.

On a different note, I am hopefully getting a wheelchair that's big enough for me (that's a whole other story) so I can get out into the woods here in the next week. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Early Season Blues

We all have our "thing". For some people it's shopping. For others, it's gambling, or alcohol, or newborn babies, or any other number of things. It's that thing you live for. The one thing that, no matter how bad things are going, will lift you up. Make you whole. For me, that one thing is waterfowling. Now, don't get me wrong. I love hunting and the outdoors. But there is just something about waterfowling that makes me whole. I would even venture to say that it borders on a religious experience.

And nothing has driven that thought home any farther than this week. If you have read my previous blog, you know that I had a mishap with a deer blind and broke my leg. So here I sit. First two days of early goose season. I should be in a blind with good friends. But I am not. And, from what they and their pictures tell me, this is the beginning of an awesome season. Mike and his group have put down more that 30 birds in the last 34 hours, one of them with a band. Now, I don't want this to sounds like I am angry. I find some comfort in knowing that they are out enjoying the sport that I love so much. But I can't help but to be jealous.

In the last 48 hours, I have felt a void that I have not felt in years, not since I started hunting. I guess it is true about what they say about "not knowing what you have until it is gone". And it's not even gone. It has simply been delayed. I know that the cast will be off by firearm deer season, so I will have some regular season waterfowling to do. And if my cast "modification" idea works, I might even be able to be in field by mid next week. But that is still a week away. A week of a two week season.

To pass the time, I have tried to read up on decoy spreads, shooting tips, and any other information I can bring up on my computer screen. If I can gain more knowledge about the sport that I am missing, the I will be all the better when I recover. But I still find my mind drifting to despair. I know you probably think this sounds like a little kid throwing a tantrum. And you would be right. That's what I feel like. Our adult lives are based on what we can control. Your entire being revolves around what you make happen, be it the littlest detail or a life altering decision. And while it was my bonehead move that put me into this predicament, I fell as if I have lost all control. Like maybe there is something I am missing. Something I can be doing to make this better. But in the end I know that I just have to be patient. When this is all said and done, there will be more seasons. This is not the end, but it sure does feel like it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting Ready For Deer Season; Season is Already Over

This past weekend, I headed north with a friend of mine (and two new friends) to work on some property that we are going to be hunting this year. Now, for those of you that know me, I have never shot a deer. In fact, I have never even seen a deer while deer hunting. When I am small game hunting, I dang near trip over them, but never when I am chasing the great Whitetail.

We started off by tilling up a few small plots (maybe 1/3 acre) that had been planted with clover earlier, but he didn't remove the oak leaves before he tilled, making it very acidic. Unfortunately, about half way down the trail, the drive belt snapped on the tiller. So, the rest of the day was up to us and our trusty rakes. Fun. After the leaves were picked up, we laid down a hefty helping of lime, followed by more clover, another random blend, then some neutral fertilizer. On to the next plot.

The next one wasn't nearly as bad. No leaves here. The clover here is coming up pretty well. The problem we were having was lack of sunlight. We had to remove some trees, but which ones? The problem we faced was the types of trees we were dealing with. The majority were white oak and cedar, with a few poplar in between. The poplar can go no problem, but the white oak and cedar are two major attractants for deer. So, after careful consideration, we cut a select few, making a few funnels with the fallen trees as we go. Now it's time to cut the shooting lanes for this plot. Next to this plot is the shooting house called "the condo", mainly because of the room you have to move around, and the Lay-Z-Boy chair that has replaced the overturned bucket. Part of this trip was to install another window on the one side so you would also have a shot into the food plot about 40 yards away, as well as the on in front of the shooting house. After an hour or so of clearing, we are good to go. But just to make sure, we all pile into the shooting house to check for ourselves. And it is in the next 30 seconds that my season ended before it even started.

As everyone piles out of the shooting house and down that ladder, someone made the comment about being careful coming down the ladder. Which is always a good idea, but how bad could you really get hurt falling from this thing? The top step is only at five foot at the most. So I start to make my way down. The, the next thing I know, maybe four foot off the ground, I'm falling. I don't know how it happened, but it did. I tried to bring my legs down, but my right foot became caught in the ladder, leaving my left leg the only one to break my fall. And that it did. The second I hit the ground, I heard the "crack!" come from somewhere in my lower leg. My buddy yells, "what the hell just happened?! Did you fall?". To which another friend replies, "yeah, he did. I tried to catch him, but it happened too fast.". "Are you all right?". Not wanting to ruin the rest of the work we still had before us, I replied, "Yeah. I'm fine. I just need to move around so it doesn't get stiff. I can walk this one off". With the adrenaline and initial shock, the pain was not bad at all, so I just kept working. But after a bit, each step became harder and harder, until eventually it was too much and I had to sit the rest of the day out. The other guys worked like madmen trying to get the rest of the work done so we could get out of there, and after a couple more hours, all of the work was done. Well, everything aside from the window because Brent forgot to bring the hinges and enough OSB (I told you I wouldn't let you forget that move :)). After that, we made our way back down south, with a little side trip to drop me off at one of the local hospitals. So, I sit here writing this on opening day of early goose season with a cast that will be with me for quite some time and my broken tibia. But all is not lost yet. I'm working on an idea for and epoxy coating and Mossy Oak Duck Blind burlap for the new cast I get next week. Wish me luck...