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Thread: What's the most dangerous situation you've been in, and what did you learn?

  1. #1
    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Default What's the most dangerous situation you've been in, and what did you learn?

    I'm always interested in learning from other people's experiences. So I'm curious- in an outdoor environment, what is the most dangerous situation you've been in? What did you learn from it? What have you changed about how you pack or travel because of it?

    I have two. The first was an overnighter in Eagle River near Blacktail Peak in July. Just as we got to the top of Blacktail, black clouds rolled in, cut our visibility to about 10 feet, and it started raining, then snowing. I was wearing cotton, my sleeping bag was at the top of my pack and not wrapped in a waterproof bag. I got wet, then cold, then hypothermic. It was a miserable night in a wet bag, shaking and getting muscle cramps. To this day, I don't wear cotton, I always have a hat and gloves, and all my gear goes into waterproof sacks.

    The second was a kayaking expedition outside of Seward. We left late, and when we passed Caines Head and started heading west to find a beach to camp on, I lost sight of my partner. It was now dark, and he was paddling into black cliffs. The swells were gentle but 20 feet, and the only thing I could see was the white breakers on two beaches in front of me. I didn't know which beach my partner selected. We had split the gear, so one of us had a tent and one of us had the food. I don't recall any longer who had what. I finally decided to just beach it, and if I picked the wrong beach I would just wait it out. Fortunately for both of us, I selected the right beach. Now I am much more careful about traveling at night, and also try and make sure that even if I don't have the main shelter I've got something with me in my emergency kit that'll get me by. But the most important lesson I learned there was this: My partner was an experienced kayaker and I had ceded leadership to him. This was my first ever trip kayaking. The bottom line was he had shown poor judgment in starting us that late, in not communicating where he was going, in getting so far ahead of me I couldn't see him, and in how we packed the gear. After that, even if I was allowing a more experienced person to lead, when it came to my personal safety I made my own judgment calls.

    I'm betting everyone here has some stories- I hope some of you will share. I would appreciate benefiting from other people's experience.

    Happy New Year! I hope everyone's travels this year are safe and memorable.

    Dee
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

  2. #2

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    Lesson I learned: If your going to run out of fuel while driving a non-IFR Stupid'Cub on top, you need a gag for your assistant guide in the backseat.

  3. #3
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    About 3 miles back in an underwater cave I had the unexpected surprise of losing my loop (scrubber flooded) in my rebreather. I had about 1/2 the gas I needed to exit on open circuit as the dive was to be a large traverse from one opening to another. I had to cut my respiratory rate by more than half. It was a pretty close call and I ended up with a serious CO2 headache for about 12 hours.

    The dive was early in my diving career and hammered home many lessons.
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    I ran out of beer once on the river


    Walking down a trail one time. head down, early morning and coming around a corner to say good morning to a big brown fuzzy girl. I think the only thing that scared her off was the oder of what i just lost. No gun no nothing. Just focused on a beautiful morning of rainbow fishing and all my fault.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  5. #5
    Member Stanly's Avatar
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    Default I got crushed

    in a 4 wheeler accident. We were on a fairly good grade, stopped to look at the scenery and tried to get started again and the bike bogged down. Gave it some gas, was leaning on handlebars but nothing, I was standing and the bike just rolled backwards like it was in neutral. It rolled about 5 feet, I was on the brakes. When it stopped, it put me in the seat rather forcefully, I didn't even get the words "what the..." formed in my mind and it did it again, this time it went a little further and the rear wheels hit some rocks and I immediately went off the back end, it all went slow motion, I remember looking up and seeing the bike (Polaris 750) coming over, I put my arms and legs up instinctively and the bike came straight donw on me. I got folded in half and SNAP, broke my back, my buddy came back because I disappeared from him, ya know one second I was there and the next I wasn't. I had an ACR Microfix, but it was attached to my packframe which was strapped to the front of the 4 wheeler. It continued down the mountain quite a ways. My buddy retreived it and we popped it off and Life Flight came and got me. Lesson learned; if you carry any sort of rescue beacon, make sure it is on your person, otherwise off it goes and you're screwed.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanly View Post
    in a 4 wheeler accident. We were on a fairly good grade, stopped to look at the scenery and tried to get started again and the bike bogged down. Gave it some gas, was leaning on handlebars but nothing, I was standing and the bike just rolled backwards like it was in neutral. It rolled about 5 feet, I was on the brakes. When it stopped, it put me in the seat rather forcefully, I didn't even get the words "what the..." formed in my mind and it did it again, this time it went a little further and the rear wheels hit some rocks and I immediately went off the back end, it all went slow motion, I remember looking up and seeing the bike (Polaris 750) coming over, I put my arms and legs up instinctively and the bike came straight donw on me. I got folded in half and SNAP, broke my back, my buddy came back because I disappeared from him, ya know one second I was there and the next I wasn't. I had an ACR Microfix, but it was attached to my packframe which was strapped to the front of the 4 wheeler. It continued down the mountain quite a ways. My buddy retreived it and we popped it off and Life Flight came and got me. Lesson learned; if you carry any sort of rescue beacon, make sure it is on your person, otherwise off it goes and you're screwed.
    Excellent point- the PLB should be on your person where it can't get ripped off, for sure. Thank God you had one. Most people don't.

    I hope you healed up ok? I had a girlfriend of mine break her back riding last year, similar deal, machine rolled on her. She had to be medivac'd from Fairbanks to Anchorage. They put her back together with plates and screws, she had to wear the "turtle brace" for 6 months, but she's doing ok now.

    Does the ACR Microfix get a signal in most places? I was eyeballing it at REI the other day because it seems to be the most affordably priced PLB except for the SPOT which isn't exactly a PLB, different functions.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Member Stanly's Avatar
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    Default I was fortunate

    to have not needed surgery. I had serious compression fractures to L1 and L2. But the best part is a pinched nerve that really screwed up my leg. The only way I could describe it was if you attached a small wire on the outside of your knee and ran it through your thigh muscle up to your hip and heated it up red hot, thats what it felt like. Not plesant. I had some injections in my back where they tried to isolate the nerve, it helped but it has been getting worse recently. The shots took the pain from about a 10 to a 4. I had the turtle shell also and had to wear it for I think it was 3 months. No complaints here though, I'm lucky to be alive and upright. It was a life changing event for sure. I can't do a lot of things anymore that I use to do. The ACR works anywhere on the planet. The downside is there is no com with it. It is for life and death situations only. Their website explains how it works very well. There are 13 satellites that orbit the earth and their sole purpose is to pick up these beacon signals. The military uses them in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will be getting another one because when the 4 wheeler went down the mountain the PLB impacted a rock. It didn't do any damage to it, just scraped the case. I sent it back to them to have it checked out and they replaced the battery. But if you are in a situation and for whatever reason you do get separated from it there will be another one. I can't say enough good things about it. Also they have come down in price. Mine was about $530. Best $500 I ever spent. Their website is acrelectronics.com. They have 2 new models out. Check them out. Don't know about now, but ebay had the best prices on them. That's where I got mine.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phish Finder View Post
    About 3 miles back in an underwater cave I had the unexpected surprise of losing my loop (scrubber flooded) in my rebreather. I had about 1/2 the gas I needed to exit on open circuit as the dive was to be a large traverse from one opening to another. I had to cut my respiratory rate by more than half. It was a pretty close call and I ended up with a serious CO2 headache for about 12 hours.

    The dive was early in my diving career and hammered home many lessons.
    3 MILES!!!!

    That is scary for me to even think about!! How long can you last on a re-breather? (forgive my ignorance...'Discovering Scuba' in Hawaii last year for 45 minutes is my career)...

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    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hunt_ak View Post
    How long can you last on a re-breather? ...
    That's a loaded question. It depends on a myriad of things (scrubber type, gas supply, breather type, etc...). When the breather failed, I had a few bottles stashed for egress. Fortunately, it was a shallow cave on the Yucatan.

    It was a long time ago when I was first getting into cave exploration. I was lucky and never cut gas supply short again

    Be careful. Diving is the single most addicting activity that I've ever done.
    ><((((>.`..`.. ><((((>`..`.><((((>

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    just like to pee a lot." --Capitol Brewery

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Rolled a wheeler off of a 3 foot embankment into a creek landing upside down with my 7 year old pinned completely under water and only my head above. Lucky I had a buddy along and my boy was wearing a helmet so we were able to get him out before he drowned. Amazingly aside from being cold and wet we were both ok. I had my gear in a dry bag but I now carry a change of clothes for the boy in it. For that trip he got my layers and I got to ride back COLD and wet.

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    Was duck hunting and doing a 20 Mile recon trip on a zodiac. Stuck in the mud about a half a mile up 20 mile river from its mouth. Tide was just about an hour away from being at its low. Sank up to my groin in just over 1 minute. Had one friend with me who brought the zodiac over. After freaking out and realizing my effort to get out was only making things worse, we managed to come up with a system to get me out. Took all my upper body strength, and I was exhausted when I got out.

    It was a scary experience and luckily we were at low tide, not an incoming tide.

    Learned not to panic, excessive movement will make you sink quicker.

    And most importantly, learned not to mess around in tidal mud. I wasn't expecting this type of mud in the area I was in.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hre814 View Post
    Was duck hunting and doing a 20 Mile recon trip on a zodiac. Stuck in the mud about a half a mile up 20 mile river from its mouth. Tide was just about an hour away from being at its low. Sank up to my groin in just over 1 minute. Had one friend with me who brought the zodiac over. After freaking out and realizing my effort to get out was only making things worse, we managed to come up with a system to get me out. Took all my upper body strength, and I was exhausted when I got out.

    It was a scary experience and luckily we were at low tide, not an incoming tide.

    Learned not to panic, excessive movement will make you sink quicker.

    And most importantly, learned not to mess around in tidal mud. I wasn't expecting this type of mud in the area I was in.
    What system did you guys use to get you out? That definitely would be scary!
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Default I too

    trusted others who had more experience. I moved here in 90' and wanted to jump into the local bird hunting. I got in a skiff with one guy who didn't know what a tide book was much less how to read it and a guy who wanted to hunt the little Sue in Nov. wearing carharts.The long story short, the driver dropped us off to go around " the point". And after 3 hours in freezing rain, carhart boy was frozen, the skiff was out in the mouth of the river high and dry with muddy footprints leading away. With only one season of commercial setnet fishing in Cook Inlet I knew what was up, I feared the tide. My friends were clueless and we were in deep doo-doo. We had to get carhart boy warmed up and we needed the boat because all survival gear was on board. Walking thru the mud when everyone has said what a death sentence it can be was scary to say the least. The only reason I even went out was because of the footprints coming to shore. By the time we got to the boat I was steaming mad and exhausted from fighting the mud plus the tide had already started back in and we were surrounded by water that was coming in fast. Did I mention the flat bottomed boat made of plywood we were riding in? Well that sticky mud did not want that boat to float. As the water rose towards the top of the gunnel we were getting really nervous. Three men couldn't rock the boat loose.We finally pushed the boat sideways to free it from the mud. I will never forget the sound of that boat breaking free of the mud. Now... I'm thinking this should be the time to start to relax cuz we're in the boat, it's running fine, carhart boy is under a tarp with the dog, miserable but warming.... boom! we run out of water. We got ahead of the incoming tide and were in the mud. While my 'buddy' tried to restart the outboard I jumped into the shallow water/mud and just started to pull the boat upriver just to keep warm and to keep busy. It hadn't stopped raining all day. I had pulled for about 20' when I looked up to see a boretide bearing down on us. Now it's tight. I'm 6'5" tall standing in 18" of mud with 6" of water on top and the boar appeared to be at about 4' tall. I screamed "Bore Tide!" and my buddy, who never stopped trying pull start the motor, got a renewed sense of urgency a pulled like crazy. With the bore about 20' feet away my prayers were answered and the motor fired, I yelled for him to turn into the now shrinking bore as I was jumping into the boat. He spun the boat around just in time and we crashed right into and on top the bore. To my suprise he spun the boat again and now was driving the boat like he was surfing! The river was getting wider so the bore was getting smaller but I thought to myself, "I still have time to die." Sure enough he drove the boat off the front of the steadily shrinking bore and took off up river where 100 yds. later we ran out of water again I jumped out and started pulling again but this time the motor fired quick I jumped in and we made it back to someone's duck shack where carhart boy got to stand by a fire and I got to think of all my mistakes. I've never gone hunting or fishing with anyone who wasn't a guide or in my core group since. To place all trust in someone that I really didn't know, in an environment I wasn't familiar with opened my eyes. I prepare for myself and to a limited degree , those who are not prepared themselves. Writing this has brought to the front of my mind other misadventures where we were luckey to survive. If my old lab were still around he'd remind me of even more. After 20 years of living here in AK. and all of it on the water I still remind people that just because a guy has lived here all his life doesn't mean that they know what they're doing or that they know more than you about how to stay alive in a survival situation. Be careful chose wisely and be prepared.

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    Member Stanly's Avatar
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    Default Hey Wheels

    Wow! Do a little stinky laundry when ya got home from that one did ya? If there's a more sobering feeling than the one of a imminent life threatening situation, I can't imagine what it is. I hope I never feel it again, knock on wood! That's some scary stuff...
    When the HOGS show up, somethins gonna DIE!!!
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  15. #15

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    Once fell through the ice at -30 while beaver trapping. Wife and I are on sleds 20 miles from anything. Got a beaver and he froze to the bottom of the ice. Had to chisel a big hole maybe 5x5 to get hin out. Got him out looked right in the wifes eyes and said "stay away from this hole if you get wet we are in trouble" turned around and splash down I went to my arm pits she helped me out and went to get fire stuff. I sat on my snow machine and she got a fire going. Fire was so close to the machine melted the cowling and hand grips... I will never live that one down.. Thank god for bunny boots.

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    Member Akheloce's Avatar
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    As a former Army National Guardsman flying rescue out of Bethel, I can relate a few stories from others' plights.

    Don't go walking out into the tundra with a pair of duct taped sneakers, an AC plastic grocery bag with a kitten and one bottle of water. You'll only make it about 15 miles.

    Don't decide to leave hunting camp in a foreign country (guy was german) by yourself before everyone wakes up. Especially when you have a .300 HH rifle, and take .300 WM ammo with you. You might not get found for 7 days.

    When you fly a super cub, don't be clausterphobic, and afraid to get in a UH-60 Blackhawk when you flip it on it's back while landing. Also, don't expect the rescue helicopter to wait for you to break down and pack up camp at 3 in the AM. Furthermore, Alaska law prohibits carrying back your bear in a helicopter, no matter how much you whine. Additionally, the helicopter will go back to the place where it is based (Bethel), not where you feel like (Anchorage). Lastly, if you disagree with all of these conditions, and decide to wait for another plane instead of a free ride on the Blackhawk, turning your Emergency Locator Transmitter back on is considered rude.

    Those are just a few pointers for those of you out there for what not to do (and things people have done)

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    Default I have a few.

    The stupider one first
    A good friend and I were pig hunting near big sir Calif. we were wearing "Doe in heat" sent . Walking through a tight canyon on a foot wide heavy brush trail, a mountain lion jumps down from above us less than 6-8 feet away from me on the trail.
    Though I was capable with a 44 mag rifle aimed at him , I was foolishly waiting for Him to make a proviocitive move . Fortunately,after 20 seconds or so, he turned and headed away , so we chased him making a little noise just to let him know we wern't scared of him ,he dissappeared in to the thick brush below us. the rest of the day kept us on our toes.
    I have met other cats on the mouintains before but that was the closest.
    At the time, I was under the impression that they were protected unless they had shown agression, clearly the doe in heat sent is what he was after, not us . The fact that there was a big cat in the vicinity, should have been evidence enough there was little chance of pigs in the area

    The other event ws a search that didn't go so well.
    During a snow storm a couple was attempting to cercumvent the highway on a back road, one of the worst even in the summer . turned out the guy was a fellon which made the sheriffs the more interested in apprehention.
    I was given the task of waiting for the search team at the drop off point with a moe. Sheriffs radios were junk, they had just gone to 800megs which are repeater dependant and left the 150 megs behind so communication in the canyon we were in was gone. the show was wet and side ways. A gun shot could not be heard if it were fired 50 feet from you. The team of five that was sent on the road from the top down was not doing well and never showed up at the designated pick up point. Because communications were not working I became the messenger boy racing on a passable road to the snow cat that was waiting at the bottom. then 15 miles back to town to use the phone and let the office know what was going on and get further instructions. They said let the team spend the nite . I came back to the original drop off point and still no sign so i headed to the bottom and still no sign ,
    So from the bottom I headed up the trail, they were suppose to come down on, as far as the moe could go and found where they had tried to start a fire but couldn't, and had headed back. Knowing they had headed back I let the cat driver know and we returned to the drop off point . I parked the moe and rode the cat a s far as it could go, and headed down the trail on foot and found them stumbling quiet and fully exhausted soak and wet,flash lights dead, frost bitten and hypo thermic. when they realized being found their spirits rose and made it back ok to the cat and we all got home . the couple we had set out after ws picked up by another teem comming from another part of the road further down . The kicker was , the office told me not to worry about the team they'd be just fine.
    Though we had training making fires in snow they were too exhausted to remember their training, anxious frustrated, cold wet.
    Can you light and keep a fire in snow?
    Good communication is not an option.
    training is not enough , regular practice Is preparedness.
    If you have a plan and cannot communicate to those expecting , stick to the plan.

  18. #18
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    Default Dumb, dumber, and dumbest

    Hunting for the first time with a great guy, best fish slayer of all time (if he didn't practice catch and release you wouldn't have any); he's a full time hunting and fishing guide - and his client. Guide has a brand new truck so he, I, and the idjit that's paying him to guide are fine 7 miles out and up from the tiny city that's closest. And I'm not thinking survival skills because I'm with him. Turns out idjit can't shoot straight because he never sighted in his new rifle (he didn't know you had to), and I don't get a shot because paying-clients come first, no matter how many shots they've already fired.

    So I say drop me off here, you guys go hunt that area up there, and as they drove off that's the last I saw of them because they never did come back for me. Me with my survival kit inside my fanny-pack, which is.... well, uh... sitting on his front seat.

    After a very long time they're not coming back and they could be any distance ahead so instead I walked back to the tiny city, every step of the 7 miles downhill, and most in the dark, with a no-moon, no flashlight (it was morning when I stepped out of the truck for a short time!) and a lot of falling down the second I accidentally walked off the road instead of down it; not even enough light to stay in the road...

    Went to idjit's B&B's owner in tiny city and it wasn't his first rodeo. Wife got me hot chocolate and blankets while he put on his warmies and multiply-armed himself. We get in his Jeep and I'm really glad to see his heater works great, 'cause I've had enough - but my buddy the guide and idjit are still up the mountain...

    He and I found idjit and his faithful guide a few miles beyond where they'd left me. The truck had been knocked clear off the road - downhill of course - by driving into a stump which also gave a quick flat.

    Idjit was sitting in the cab of the running truck with the heater on full, and faithful guide was underneath the rear of his brand new chevy (coughing from the vehicle's exhaust), trying to gnaw off one strand at a time from the factory-provided aircraft cable that Chevy used to protect the spare tire from being stolen - using only a small cheap pair of pliers; faithful guide had not brought his key to unlock his own spare tire. And even if he had, he had no come-a-long, winch, or nothing to get Chevy back onto the road.

    I lost both big toenails which took a year go grow back in, because my boots although warm did not fit and I hadn't clipped my nails. No one in this story used their brain. Not one of us, except B&B owner, and he'd seen it before. This is from a very long time ago. Of course nothing this dumb would ever happen to me again. Uh.... [knocks on wood...]

  19. #19
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    Red face Shark bait

    I was on a reqruitment trip to the outer islands of Yap in Micronesia ( small tropical atolls between guam, the philippines and Papua New Guinea). My partner was a die hard spear fisherman and I was just along for the ride. We were invited to a neighboring island to spend easter weekend and the small community went on a fishing trip for the easter feast. My buddy forgot his stringer at the main island and ended up grabbing some flimsy speacker wire to use as a stringer.

    As we my partner speared the fish he gave it to me and I put it on the stringer. However the parrotfish that we were spearing have a small mouth and I was having to shove the line through the gills with my pinky and in the act I caused a lot of blood to flow from the fish that I was pulling along through the water. After each fish that we speared we had to swim away as quickly as possible because if we did not there would be 2 to 3 sharks circling the area where the fish was shot.

    My buddy speared another fish and I held it out of the water searching for any nearby sharks and did not see any. I then proceed to string out the fush when I felt a violent tug at the end of the stringer. When I looked down there was a 5 to 6 foot shark gnashing its teeth on the fish at the bottom of the stringer. Which of course was only about 2 inches from my best friends in the whole world. Of course I politely informed the shark that I was really not interested in oral sex and bid him a good day. Okay I screamed like a little school girl. When we looked up our boat was about a half mile away. I got to swim that distance with one hand holding the fish and the other hand... well I 'll let you guess what it was holding.

    Lessons learned. Don't forget your stringer and let the other guy hold it.

    I hope at least that the shark was female....

  20. #20
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    sounds like you ought to partner up with Vince.


    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Hunting for the first time with a great guy, best fish slayer of all time (if he didn't practice catch and release you wouldn't have any); he's a full time hunting and fishing guide - and his client. Guide has a brand new truck so he, I, and the idjit that's paying him to guide are fine 7 miles out and up from the tiny city that's closest. And I'm not thinking survival skills because I'm with him. Turns out idjit can't shoot straight because he never sighted in his new rifle (he didn't know you had to), and I don't get a shot because paying-clients come first, no matter how many shots they've already fired.

    So I say drop me off here, you guys go hunt that area up there, and as they drove off that's the last I saw of them because they never did come back for me. Me with my survival kit inside my fanny-pack, which is.... well, uh... sitting on his front seat.

    After a very long time they're not coming back and they could be any distance ahead so instead I walked back to the tiny city, every step of the 7 miles downhill, and most in the dark, with a no-moon, no flashlight (it was morning when I stepped out of the truck for a short time!) and a lot of falling down the second I accidentally walked off the road instead of down it; not even enough light to stay in the road...

    Went to idjit's B&B's owner in tiny city and it wasn't his first rodeo. Wife got me hot chocolate and blankets while he put on his warmies and multiply-armed himself. We get in his Jeep and I'm really glad to see his heater works great, 'cause I've had enough - but my buddy the guide and idjit are still up the mountain...

    He and I found idjit and his faithful guide a few miles beyond where they'd left me. The truck had been knocked clear off the road - downhill of course - by driving into a stump which also gave a quick flat.

    Idjit was sitting in the cab of the running truck with the heater on full, and faithful guide was underneath the rear of his brand new chevy (coughing from the vehicle's exhaust), trying to gnaw off one strand at a time from the factory-provided aircraft cable that Chevy used to protect the spare tire from being stolen - using only a small cheap pair of pliers; faithful guide had not brought his key to unlock his own spare tire. And even if he had, he had no come-a-long, winch, or nothing to get Chevy back onto the road.

    I lost both big toenails which took a year go grow back in, because my boots although warm did not fit and I hadn't clipped my nails. No one in this story used their brain. Not one of us, except B&B owner, and he'd seen it before. This is from a very long time ago. Of course nothing this dumb would ever happen to me again. Uh.... [knocks on wood...]

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