Picking a Call~

I was recently reading a news report of a tragedy on the Westport River in Connecticut January 7th 2014.

Two hunters died that day. Numerous families, friends, and responders all had their lives changed forever.

Although the specifics may be unique, the situation of a duck hunter losing their life in the water is all too familiar. Every year it happens to one of our fraternity.

In my own history, the closest I have come to dying was drowning while duck hunting. It was on the shore of the Platte River in Nebraska in November as a stupid 18 year old over 35 years ago. 

My story wasn’t while on a boat but while wading into deeper water to retrieve a late season mallard shot on the outside the decoys.

As I stretched my arm out to grab the duck, the sand washed out from under my feet dropping me several inches and bringing the water above my waders. Not wearing a wader belt, my waders filled with water.

My new girth caught the current and pushed me even deeper till the water was above my shoulders.

I tossed my gun, a prized position that would take a year to replace, and dealt with the realization that I was in real trouble. The cold water robbed my breath. Dancing on the tips of my toes I went with the current looking to take a bead toward the shore.   

The water climbed to my chin.

I had the discouraging thought that, “When I go under I need to try to get my knife in my pocket and cut these waders off”. A nearly impossible task.

I had read several news accounts of others who had lost their lives wadding too deep in too fast and too dangerous waters. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me.

I finally did make that line toward the bank. Walked out of the cold river looking like a clown in a fat suit.

I tell you my story because I lost more than my shotgun on that trip. I lost my belief that I was bullet proof. Until that experience, I walked into every outdoor situation believing I was tougher than nails and could “win” in any situation. I left with a lot more humility and respect.

Nowadays I assess the lethality of every situation. I don’t go into the water without a wader belt and staff. I think about what could go wrong and I what I can do to survive if that were to happen….before I take that step.

My hope is that you will never find yourself in peril in the outdoors. I hope you never make my mistakes. That you and your family doesn’t experience the sadness of lose that those on the Westport River did that late season hunt.  Have fun, be humble, share experiences, and above all, stay alive.

Until I see you in the field or water, remember, be Safe, be Good and BE LUCKY!