By Gary Miketa, Pueblo, Colo.
About a year and a half ago, due to a traumatic brain injury, I was blessed to be put in the unique position of being a 56-year-old man that now had the physical and mental capacity of a newborn. After the surgery to repair my brain bleeds, and another two weeks later to replace my skull, I was given no hope of coming out of the coma I was in, and if I did, it was almost certain that I would remain in a vegetative state the rest of my life.
With the help of God, family and the saints of Craig Hospital, I was given a do-over in life, and I began once again to learn the basics, such as my name, recognizing the person in the mirror, walking, talking, swallowing, etc.
Quite some time later, I remembered that I once loved to go hunting and shooting, and I was determined to do it again. Though I had hunting tags in my possession, the doctors would not clear me to hunt yet, so I turned my tags in and signed up for college, of all things, only five months after learning how to read again.
The next big-game drawing was coming up, so I applied even without the doctor’s clearance, hoping that I would be cleared to hunt by the upcoming season.
The tags were announced and I drew a cow moose, cow elk, buck antelope and buck deer, but still had no clearance from the doctor. I decided if they would let me hunt, I wanted to do it only with lever actions and without scopes since my right eye, among other issues, was compromised, making it difficult to see through a scope.
I finally got clearance to drive and hunt, as long as I was with others. I took a Cimarron Model 1886 in .45-70 and got a young bull that qualified as a cow, in Unit 16, near Walden, Colo. I must say it was a bit tougher than past hunts in this area, however.
A few days later, I got a buck antelope in Unit 110 near Calhan, Colo., with a Henry .44 Mag. I was staying in a 100-year-old granary that I had fixed up into a hunting camp, and I had family nearby that checked in on me often. Several weeks later I got a buck deer with my son and daughter and the same Cimarron .45-70 and a single-action .45 Colt, also in Unit 110.
I was not able to take time off from school to go elk hunting because my learning disability is still lingering. I have never been to college before or used a computer, so I am at a small disadvantage. (Typing this story is proving good practice.)
It was a great new year and new life, but they all are. While some are better than others, they are all great.
Life is not about surviving the storm, but learning to dance in the rain.
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