Monday, May 26, 2014

Shot On Memorial Day - A Weekend Of Camping & Fishing Gone Wrong

Shot On Memorial Day
A Weekend Of Camping & Fishing Gone Wrong

A Day That Will Live In Infamy
For Me At Least

There is something so relaxing about camping out, and sleeping under the stars.  Ever since I was a small boy and used blankets for a tent out in the backyard, I longed for that familiar smell that only comes from sleeping under the nights sky.

It was a Memorial Day weekend and I, like many others, found myself enjoying nature both on land and under the water.  I even had a hammock set up in camp to relax and read my Louis L'Amour western that seemed very fitting while roughing it outdoors.

As the weekend passed and Monday came, most had left the tranquility of the mountains. After all, Tuesday was not far away and people had jobs and responsibilities to get back to.  As I lay in my hammock, staring at the peaceful scene, I noticed a pickup truck driving down the highway.  They must of got the itch and decided they were in no hurry to return to the  hustle  and bustle of the city.  I do not know about you, but I can not blame them for that.
"Just one more Trout"
 As the truck pulled off the highway and tires met dirt, I wished them luck as I knew what they were after.  One last Trout, I bet that is all they crave.  That and maybe one last hour of fishing, before returning to the city.

I had already had my morning line dipping and as the heat of the day blazed on, I new the fish had decided to join me in an afternoon nap.

"When fishing is slow, try shooting "

I do not know how long I had nodded off while the breeze rocked me slightly in my hammock.  I do know that when I awoke, the last of the mighty holiday fisherman did not seem to be having much luck.  From across the pond I could tell that my visitors were a father and son.  The young boy must of been bored of trying to catch the finicky Trout, and talked his father into setting up a paper target on a stump and loading up his .22 long rifle for some plinking.

"I heard the voice whispering to me"

As I lay nestled in the shade under the trees, It did not take nature long to remind me that what goes in must eventually come out.  I then proceeded to climb out of the hammock grabbing by book and start my walk around the pond to the outhouse that awaited me.

As I proceeded to make my way towards the outhouse, I started to think I should stop by and say hello to my fellow fishermen.  i do not know about you but I love to talk fish.  I use to drive my stepmother crazy and make my dad laugh whenever we were on a drive and water crossed our path.  It did not mater if it was an irrigation canal, creek or golf course.  If there was water, there came the question.  "Is there any fish in there?"

"I heard the voice again"

As I arrived to the outhouse and started to step in, I found myself stopping and looking around the now open door.  There sat the mighty fisherman, sitting in his fold up lawn chair, staring at his fishing pole in anticipation of the fish to come. 

His young son, who I guess to have been about twelve or thirteen, was still at war with the stump and target plinking away honing his skills.  "You should at least yell hello & wave" was the thought that again entered my mind.  Again I did not listen and stepped into the small enclosure to do my business.

"I heard the voice for the third & final time"

As I sat there reading, it did not take long for a chill to come across me.  My whole body that a moment ago had been so relaxed and content at the job at hand, had goosebumps and started tensing up a bit.  I closed the book in my hand keeping 1 finger to mark my page, and found myself looking around in the cramped space I had locked myself in.  Then the thought came, I now consider it the final warning of what was about to happen.  "If that kid gets bored at the stump and takes a shot at this outhouse, I am going to be hit".  Not ten seconds later, it happened!

"I grabbed my thigh and my palm turned red"


Was that a firecracker?

Was the first question that came to mind as I looked around, and immediately I felt the strongest most painful charlie horse I have ever had coming from my right leg.

I felt as if my thigh was on fire and I found my palm grabbing the outer portion of my right thigh.  Then as I brought my hand up and looked at my palm, it was as if I had made a palm print on a newly painted red wall.  It did not take long for the shock to set in.  I can remember standing up with most of my weight on my left leg, and unlocking the door.  I had not even pulled up my pants all the way as I wanted out of this wooden casket I found myself in.  I would not be a rotting corpse in an obscure locked outhouse.

I fell to the ground and grabbed for my rifle

If I am camping I am packing!

Now here is when things get even more interesting in this story. When ever I go out camping, I am always armed.  At the time this story takes place, I had with me my Ruger 10-22 rifle.  It was always by my side and i never left camp without it.  Even in previous trips to the outhouse, I would carry it slung over my shoulder always loaded, always ready.  That is until this day.

Where is my gun? 

Shock will really do a number on ones mind, I can attest to that. Today as I reflect on the events of that day, I can tell you honestly, when I tried to step out of that outhouse, bleeding, in pain and shock, I felt to the ground and went into flight or fight mode.  I can only assume now, since I could not walk, I reached for my rifle in fight mode.

Did fate intervene?

It was at that moment, I realized I had done something I had never done before.  I had left my rifle in my tent, and today I know it was for a reason.  Again let me state I was never without my firearm, but on this trip, on this day, when I started my walk to the outhouse something told me not to take it.  It was as if the rifle was completely stricken from my mind.  I know now it was my Lord, knowing what was to come, protecting me and others from turning a young boys mistake, into an all out gunfight.

After all, had I had my rifle and used it, I most likely would not have made it off the mountain.  You see, upon hearing me yell out, the father turned to see a man in need, and with his son terrified as to what he had done, he helped me into his truck and raced me off the mountain to help.

I feared I would soon die

I must have passed out after being transferred from the truck to the paramedics as I do not recall arriving at the hospital.  When I did awake it was to the doctors voice with him holding the X-ray of my leg in his hand.  I can still remember the cold metal of an instrument used for measuring touching my thigh and the doctor shaking his head.  I will never forget the words he spoke as I lie there still trying to wake up and pay attention.

The doctor says I should be dead

"In relation to the entry point of the bullet, and the exit point, I have no explanation of how that bullet missed your bone and artery.  And as he pointed to the X-ray back lit on the wall behind him he said "Had the bullet hit either, you would not have made it off the mountain, I just can not explain it".  

My faith renewed

As a small boy I can remember going to church with my family, although from what I can remember my father at one point or always stayed home.  As I got older it ended up being my sister who would take me with her and I eventually found my place in the youth group.

I felt the hand of God

My sister was our families faith leader and still is to this day, and I must admit I still practice my own fellowship in my own way.  And although I even now do not regularly attend Sunday services, I have my faith and my own special relationship with God.

I have not fully entailed all that transpired on that mountain years ago, if I did this post would go on much longer.  What I will say is that on that day, I truly believe the hand of God touched me and changed my life forever.

Thank you Lord,