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What Goes Up Must Come Down

August 14, 2012

There I am, standing on the edge of the field on the evening of the last day of season…my first, and hopefully last season, with a rifle in my hands . Waiting. Watching. And freezing. I hate being cold…I always have. This is NOT fun. Why did I ever let him talk me into this?

Only an hour left. Then it would be over until next fall. Thank God!

It’s mighty hard to stand still when your teeth are chattering. I can’t even feel my fingers, and my toes feel like they’re going to fall right off. And he does this for fun?  What is wrong with that man?

‘Keep an eye on this trail,’ he said. Sure. I’m on it. Literally. What else is there to do out here? I can’t read a book, knit, listen to music, or anything else. Just sit or stand and freeze. And sitting was out of the question this time, I had nothing to sit on.

What are the chances of me actually seeing a deer, anyway? A million to one? I’m beginning to think that’s a tad optimistic.

I’m standing here, watching this deer trail and checking the field from time to time. Great fun. And he walked down the trail, through the alder brush and mud. He climbed that big old oak over there. I can see him up there. Just a dot of orange high up in the tree. Really high up. You wouldn’t get me up there! I don’t like heights. Not one bit.

Oh, good. Almost dark. This’ll be over soon.  He’ll come for me and we’ll go home.  Where it’s warm.

Then I hear a crack and turn toward the noise…it comes from back where Jim is. And I automatically glance up the tree to where he’s sitting. And he’s coming down…slowly at first, and my spirits lift. We’re done!

But then, the cracks come closer together, and Jimbo’s coming down faster. And I realize he’s falling. Oh no! What do I do now?

He hit’s the ground with a solid thud. One I can hear from where I’m standing.  Oh, God, let him be okay, I think to myself. He was up there pretty high. Let him be alright. Please.

I whistle our ‘woods whistle’, a signal to each other when we’re walking in the woods. No answer. Maybe he didn’t hear me. I whistle louder. No reply.

I start walking down the deer trail, toward the oak. Through the brush and alders, through the mud and yuck. I can barely see the oak through this jungle. God help me, I pray.

I trudge onward, climbing over fallen logs, making my way around thick tangles of vegetation, snaking my way through to the other side.

Finally, I come to a little clearing near the oak. And there he is. On the ground, flat on his back. I whistle again, but as before, he doesn’t answer. God, please let him be alive, I pray. As I approach, I see his right leg is straight out to the side, at a right angle to his body, and his foot is rotated outward. Not a good sign. Definitely not a good sign. And he’s not answering me.

A sapling caught the inside of his right thigh as he fell and pushed his leg outward.

I kneel down and touch his face gently…’Jimbo,’ I say softly. ‘Jimbo, wake up’. Slowly, his eyelids flutter open, then close again. I call his name once more, a little louder. And his eyes open. It takes him a moment to focus.

‘Are you alright?’ I ask.

‘Where’s my gun?’

‘Can you move?’

‘Where’s my gun?’

‘Should I get help?’

‘Where’s my gun?’

Okay, woman, I think,…back up here. You’re not getting anywhere this way. So I look around and see his precious gun sticking barrel first in the mud a few feet away. So I grab it, do a quick check…all the parts seem to be intact, but the safety’s off; so I click it on and pull it out of the mire.

‘Gun‘s fine,’. I hope. “Are you okay?’

‘No,’ he groaned.

Oh crap. ‘Can you move?’

‘Don’t know,’ he whispered.

‘I‘m getting help.’

‘NO! I‘m walking out of here under my own power!’

Figures. There’s that stubborn streak his mother told me about. I knew better than to argue…he was Hell-bent on doing this, and I’d help him try. Then, we’d do it my way. Once he figures out for himself that he needs help.

So, after making sure he could move his toes and bend his knee, I carefully work the sapling under his leg and around, helping him lift his leg and move it inward to a more natural position.  S-l-o-w-l-y. He grimaces with pain, breath hissing through his teeth in short grunts.

His forehead beads with sweat from the effort as he collapses once again onto his back. , With daylight fading fast, I give him a moment before I help him to his feet. There was no way he’d be able to make it through the alder brush, so we’ll have to take the long way around. At least, it would be easier going…no logs to climb over, and no brush to fight our way through. That, at least, was a blessing.

With me on one side, his arm wrapped around my shoulders and my arm curled around his waist, we inch our way down the path, his gun on the other side, doubling as a walking stick. We’ll have to walk at least three or four times as far, but it’s our only option. He would never make it through the alder thicket, and it’s probably pitch dark in there by now, anyway. At least, in the open, we had a little light.

We plod along, making slow but steady progress. It seems to take hours just to walk a few yards. They’ll be wondering about us back at the house by now. Do they even know where we were hunting?

Finally, we reach the car. He eases himself in, gingerly lifting each leg inside so I can shut the door. I drive as slowly as I can, avoiding the potholes and bumps as best I can.

Finally we pull up in front of the old farmhouse. We can see everyone gathered around the table, eating dinner, and no doubt, exchanging hunting stories of the day.

I stand by, ready to help, as he carefully extracts himself from the Sunbird. He stands as straight as he can and grabs onto me as we make our way inside.

Once in the house, someone vacates a chair; another retrieves an ice pack, and a third pours coffee for us. All wear worried expressions as they wait for an explanation.

Turns out Jimbo was trying to protect me. He knew I was nervous being on the ground, feeling exposed and vulnerable. After all, he’d talked me into it, so I suppose he felt responsible.

He glanced up the deer trail, the same one I was standing on, and saw a bear lumbering down the trail…straight toward me. He began shifting his weight; quietly took the safety off, prepared to shoot in front of the animal to scare him off, Jimbo shifted his weight onto his left leg, and a different branch. And as he did, the branch broke clean off…that was the first crack I heard. He was falling. So he threw the gun as hard as he could, hoping it wouldn’t fire, or at least if it did, it would do so harmlessly.

Several of the guys stifled laughter as we told our story, and a few didn’t bother hiding their mirth. They’d hunted with him for years. Falling out of a tree was pretty much business as usual. He fell, at least once each year, and he was overdue…he hadn’t fallen yet this year.

‘Maybe you outta go in…see a doctor’ Someone suggested.

‘Hell NO!

So I take him home and put him to bed. With ice packs on his back and hip, and bags of frozen vegetables on a few more areas. I really need to invest in more ice packs with this man…I can see that. From what his hunting crew says, this incident is not unusual. I need to be prepared.

Somebody seriously needs to explain the law of gravity to this man, I think. He’s really pretty good at proving it, but I don‘t think he really gets it.

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