My last and final year in hunting the Wisconsin north woods came with a unique twist as due to a ranching accident in Montana I was confined to the use of crutches for the hunting season. I had gotten lucky in meeting someone who had worked for an outfitter guest ranch in Montana and after a few phone calls and references from my friend I was rewarded with a job out west at the age of 16.
I hitched a ride with some family members on vacation and was dropped off in Charlo Montana to begin my cowboy life. I had a great time for a month and learned a lot about using horses and working from sunup till sundown every day and got to enjoy some great experiences on some pack trips into the Bob Marshall wilderness in preparation for hunting season. Unfortunately I made a bad decision while raking hay in the fields between trips with an old ford tractor and ended up with two broken legs and a bunch of cracked ribs. I learned a good lesson about trying to jump on moving machines and what can happen if you don’t time it just right. My first plane trip was required to get me home and somewhere around six months of different casts being used before I was completely healed up.
With one leg healed up sooner and out of the cast I was at least able to balance and able to start practicing with my bow, and try to prepare for the quickly coming season. Due to the cast on my other leg I was unable to climb a tree stand so my dad built me up a pretty good ground blind that looked just like a large brush pile. It only took 4 trips out hobbling out through the woods to my blind, that fortunately was only a couple hundred yards from the truck before I was able to make my best archery shot to date and the sattellite tipped Gamegetter flew perfectly for a double lung shot. Fortunately it was only about an hour till dark as I had to wait for my dad to come and get me since I couldn't walk very far and was not sure how far the deer had gone. I thought he would take care of everything for me but I was wrong. My dad was very much a believer of getting yourself out of any situation you had gotten yourself into and was determined to teach me the same lesson no matter what the circumstances. I found myself trying to struggle through the brush with a small flashlight in my teeth while trying to follow a blood trail through the trees on my crutches. Fortunately it was the best blood trail I’ve ever seen and sprayed blood in a path nearly a solid foot wide and at knee high off the ground the entire length of her run. Lucky for me she didn't go far and I only fell twice with my crutches tangled in the bushes before I found her. Although I did have to gut the deer myself I did get lucky in that he at least didn’t try to make me drag her out as well. My dad figured if you were tough enough to be out there then you needed to follow through on the entire process as well. I know today that the lessons he taught me, although sometimes tough have made a big difference on how I have lived and survived throughout my life. I wouldn’t change anything about the way I grew up.
The next year was when we moved to Colorado and a whole new and exciting chapter of my life was about to open. I never killed a whitetail buck when I was a kid. In fact I can only remember seeing maybe three of them in the few years I hunted there, I only remember my dad himself taking one buck the entire time I was growing up himself. From what I remember in reading magazine hunting reports the deer herd back then was less than half of what the population has climbed up to these days. It took me nearly 27 years to finally get that whitetail buck I wanted so badly and dreamed about so often. I considered for many years to go back and hunt in the same area but by the time I was able to afford it the success in the area I’m from was pretty low and most of my family members only get one every several years of hunting them. I decided that although it would cost a little bit more that Texas was a far better option to at least get my first one and take the pressure off. But I've already told that story before.