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Stories from Hunters: Part I

Short stories from hunters on past experiences they won’t soon forget.

“Casey was a red lab I bought on a whim in 1988 for $100. She was fearless; more than a few hunting trips ended up at the vet’s office to stitch her wounds or x-ray her bruises. One day, Casey and I were pheasant hunting in our favorite marsh. We were about a mile from the truck when Casey got on the track of a rooster and I was running to keep up as we got to the bank of the river. She plunged off the riverbank and disappeared into a clump of tangled canary grass. I heard a loud strangling, gurgle sound, and saw rotten wood fenceposts on either side of the canary grass break off at the ground. Casey had plowed, full-speed, into a rusty barbed-wire fence buried in the grass. I’ll never forget the sickening, gagging sound she made when she hit the wire. I was sure she had slit her throat wide open and my assumption seemed to be confirmed when she backed out of the canary grass covered in blood. Her head, eyes, ears, chest and shoulders were covered with blood in seconds. I grabbed her by the collar and threw her in the river to wash off the blood and look for a severed jugular. I was already thinking how I was going to carry an 80-pound dead dog out of the marsh. She and I stood knee-deep in the river splashing bloody fur in search of her injuries but I couldn’t find the source of all that blood. Panting with her big tongue hanging out, I finally found a small puncture wound in the middle of her tongue. I couldn’t believe so much blood came from such a small cut.”

– Bill (Iowa Co, Wisconsin)

“My buddies took the truck back to their cabin to get something and left me alone at the lake. I wasn’t familiar with the area but we were at a little fishing hole out in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota. To my knowledge, no one else was at the lake as I couldn’t see anyone around. Shortly after they left I could hear muffled voices in the distance. I looked around and saw no one. A few minutes later I heard a low, faint “hey” in a male voice, like someone was trying to get my attention or say hi. Looking around again, there was no one in sight. I went back to what I was doing but I continued to hear them say “hey” or “eh” every few minutes. I couldn’t see a single person around the lake, or up the road. I thought I was losing my mind, hearing voices. After a while, a couple Gadwalls flew over. “Eh. Hey. Eh. Hehhh.” Couldn’t believe it, the whole time it had been a couple of Gadwalls calling back and forth and I thought it was someone messing with me.

– Ryan (Logan Co, North Dakota)

“My father took our family dog, Cookie, out hunting for the first time. She was a small yellow lab, and was not fully familiar yet with how hunting and retrieving worked. He took her down into the river bottoms one morning for duck hunting. Not long after getting to the edge of some water, a few ducks flushed out in front of them. He shot two of the ducks, and they landed out in the water about 20 yards away. My dad gestured for the dog to go out and retrieve the ducks. Cookie plunged into the water and swam out to the ducks. She circled them and came back without retrieving either duck. My dad tried again a few times to get her to go out and grab the ducks, but she wouldn’t. He had to make the unfortunate decision to strip down to his underwear and swim out in the mucky swamp water to grab the ducks himself. The water was thick with algae and mud, but my dad trudged out there anyway to get the ducks. With only another few steps to go before he reached the ducks, Cookie launched herself into the water. She swam up to the ducks as my dad was just grabbing the first one, and she snatched the other in her mouth before swimming back to shore. My dad stood there in disbelief. Thankfully after that, Cookie understood her retrieving duties on future hunting trips. Seems she just had to watch and learn how it was done.”

– Lydia (Sauk Co, Wisconsin)

“In the early hours of the morning, I was just settling into my tree stand. The sun had not peaked yet and I used my headlamp to climb up my ladder. I am not a fan of the dark, but I knew I was safe in the tree and that light would break soon. I had only been in my stand for about 10 minutes before I heard movement not far from my tree. My headlamp was off now and it was still too dark to see, but the sounds I heard did not seem like a deer. The crunching of leaves and twigs continued, getting closer, but then came to a stop right below me. I tried to look down to the bottom of the tree but I could not make out anything. Suddenly, I heard the soft metal tapping sound my ladder makes when I begin to climb it. Something, or someone, was climbing my tree stand ladder. I began to panic, as I continued to hear the sound of the ladder bars being climbed, slowly. Maybe it was a black bear? A trespasser wanting to use my stand? I didn’t want to scare off any deer with my headlamp light, but I also didn’t want to be face-to-face with whatever was climbing up to me. I quickly grabbed my headlamp and I shined the light down the tree. To my surprise, 4 sets of eyes reflected in the light up towards me. Right below me was a family of raccoons. They stared at me for a moment before climbing back down the ladder and scurrying away.”

– Jacob (Winona Co, Minnesota)

“The fog was very dense, as it was still early in the morning, barely light out. I was walking through a field within a plot of public land. I had only explored this public area a couple times, but I felt confident in where I was headed in terms of where I wanted to hunt. Somewhere along the way, I made a wrong turn and went into an area I was not familiar with. As I walked towards the edge of the field, the fog slightly thickened. I took a step towards the edge of the woods, and instead of feeling the ground beneath my foot, I fell right into a giant hole. I landed hard on my shoulder and side, and was stuck partially upside-down. Thankfully, I did not hit my head and my gun did not go off. I quickly realized I had fallen into a hole that was caused by large tree roots. After a few painful adjustments, I managed to rotate myself and crawl out of the hole. I had cracked part of my collar bone and bruised up my side pretty badly, but I knew it could have been worse.”

– Sam (Jackson Co, Minnesota)

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