Part of what makes the outdoors so much fun is the element of adventure and surprise nature holds for the participant. In a life where everything is so rigidly laid out and controlled—from the grid of suburban streets and perfectly aligned houses in our neighborhoods, to the suit-and-tie social rules and etiquette followed at the office and in our communities—it’s refreshing to escape to the rawness of the outdoors where trees, plants and brush grow unchecked by the landscapers tools and creatures besides man roam wild and at their own free will.
Let’s face it, there is also an undercurrent of danger and unpredictability in nature that thrills the soul, although most of us still want to hedge our bets and keep our outings on the safer side of things. But still, try as you might, whether it’s simply a hunt not playing as planned or an actual concern for safety, spend enough time outdoors and things are bound to go wrong. Here are a few mishaps I’ve encountered that other sportsmen and women can surely relate to.
Dream Waterfowl Hunt Gone Wrong
While our group limited out on speckled geese in a reservoir on our first day, our next two days of venturing into flooded timber proved to be a total bust. Both days were warm and overcast, a bad mix for timber as the lack of hard shadows, makes it easier for ducks to see when things aren’t quite right. To top it off, a short cut to our duck hole turned into a mad boat ride over logs, around trees and through saplings in 2-foot-deep water that tapered down to a foot and had us dragging boats across old road beds and through stretches of forest. We finally arrived at our hole an hour after shooting light. The next day, despite arriving in darkness to the public land spot, every hole we came to already held hunters. We finally settled on a spot that turned out to be far from where any ducks wished to fly.
Beware Borrowed Waders
Check Your Licenses
“Where’s your conservation stamp?” he asked, looking over the documents.
“Stamp?” I replied rather dumbly. I had not seen any mention of a stamp on the website. A $15 conservation stamp was required in addition to the license. I put my bow back in the tent, as I would instead be dropping another hunter off before riding to town for a leisurely breakfast as we waited for the sporting goods store to open. Thankfully we at least somewhat salvaged the morning by hunting turkeys once I was legal.
I did the same thing years ago on a Maryland waterfowl hunt when buying licenses online was a new thing. I joined a local hunter there on a duck hunt in the Chesapeake Bay, and we had just set our decoys out front of a rocky outcropping when she asked how I got my license so fast. I told her I went online and just printed it out. Again, it was a stamp—this time the state waterfowl stamp, I had my Federal one—that tripped me up. I never even loaded my gun. I told myself as I drove home early that the hunting would’ve been slow anyway. On another hunt, I drove two hours to a public hunting tract only to realize that I had completely forgotten my license at home. I became the official hunt photographer that day. It stinks when it happens, but there is no shortcut on following the law and having the proper permits. Take my advice: Be sure to check with a local or make an actual call to the game department where you’ll be hunting when traveling to hunt in a new area.
“What happened?” we asked as the other guy tiredly approached.
“I forgot my bow in the back of the truck,” he replied.
He had tried chasing us down as we drove off, but our talking and the radio had kept us from hearing him. Then he sat there awhile hoping we’d notice it and come back, but we didn’t. Finally, he decided to stow his climber and other gear and made the long walk back to camp. At least when my hunt got messed up that morning, I had the chance to enjoy a hot breakfast!
Watch Your Load on Inclines
The ATV bogged down on the steep incline, and as it came to an exposed root jutting from a tree, I hit the gas. Immediately, the front of the four-wheeler shot straight into the air as the weight of the deer pulled the vehicle backwards. I went flying off and landed on my back where I had just enough time to bring my legs up into a ball as the ATV landed on top of me and then rolled off to the side. The wind had been knocked out of me, and I thought my leg might be broken from the impact.
It’s funny how even though I was the only one there that day, I was more worried about the humiliation of someone seeing me than the actual fact that I had almost just killed myself. I immediately hopped up and looked around, my leg throbbing from where one of the bars on the rack had hit my lower leg. Despite the pain, I quickly righted the ATV, moved the deer to the front where the weight would hold the four-wheeler down as I went up the hill and thanked goodness that nobody actually saw such a display of stupidity—though I’m telling it now so I’m not sure what was gained by that!
Fessup—what are some of your more famous hunting misadventures? Share in the comment section below.