Rolling the Dice
In hunting, fishing and the outdoors, there’s luck—and then, in some cases, there’s damned good luck. Here are some stories exhibiting the latter form retrieved from our Offbeat Outdoors archives for your reading pleasure.
7-7-7 Not Lucky For Tarpon Angler
An avid Florida saltwater fly angler experienced a near miss with tragedy when he tumbled overboard while fighting a 90-pound tarpon, accidentally slicing an arm vein on his boat’s spinning trolling motor propeller. Before the injured fisherman gave up the fight with the silver king and motored to shore for help, doctors said he lost nearly a pint of blood.
The Lakeland Ledger detailed the amazing story of 54-year-old Rick Cannon, who went tarpon fishing alone on what he thought might be his lucky day—Saturday, July 7 (7-7-07). In fact, it was around 7:07 in the morning when a tarpon nailed Cannon’s offering as he fished in upper Pine Island Sound.
When he turned on the trolling motor, the backward momentum pushed the upright angler overboard, in to about 8 feet of water. Cannon said he felt the trolling motor bump his right arm as he treaded water, but didn’t realize he was injured until he climbed back into boat and saw his arm covered with blood.
“I put my finger on it, and thought, ‘How am I going to fight this fish and not bleed to death?’ I pumped on the fish twice, but I couldn’t let go to reel,” he said.
Cannon remained calm, broke off the line, and headed to shore as quickly as his 175-HP outboard would take him. In less than 10 minutes--before 7:30--he was at a Boca Grande marina, where EMTs applied tourniquets to his wound and sped him to a nearby hospital.
So what thought made him head to shore instead of landing the tarpon?
“My wife (would) be really mad if I died out here fighting this fish,” he said.
The Luckiest Shot of My Life
Federal officials ruled that a Wyoming elk hunter acted in justified self-defense in 2006 when he shot and killed a grizzly bear, estimated to weigh 400 pounds, with a single shot to the chest at a distance of 23 yards.
Interestingly, the case was the last such incident to be overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as Wyoming grizzlies were de-listed from federal protection earlier that and now fall under jurisdiction of the state.
Ken Meade, a 65-year-old resident of Lander, Wyo. was camping near Togwotee Pass in October when his chocolate Lab alerted him to an intruder near his camper. Meade told FWS investigators that he yelled at the bear, hoping to frighten it away.
“I could see its nose down to the ground,” he told the Jackson Star-Tribune. “It got on my trail and started coming at us at a run.”
Meade said the bear disappeared from view behind a small hill for a few seconds.
“When he reappeared he was coming at me in a dead run,” he said.
Authorities determined that one shot from Meade’s .338 cal. rifle hit the bruin just below its jaw, in the center of the chest, killing it instantly.
Meade, who did not to the media while the investigation was underway, later called it, “The luckiest shot of my life.”
The hunter agreed with the feds’ determination.
“When it got to within 23 yards, I was sure he was coming to get you,” Meade said. “He wasn’t coming for my autograph.”
Lost & Found Luck
What are the chances of a search and rescue volunteer finding a lost hunter who just happened to be an old high school chum from across the country he hadn’t seen in 55 years? Well, that’s just what happened in the mountains of Arizona during elk hunting season.
In and around Arizona’s rugged and mountainous Mogollon Rim country, reports of missing and lost hunters are somewhat routine. And, statistically speaking, most of them have happy endings.
But who could have determined the unlikely odds of a searcher finding a missing man who just happened to be an old buddy he hadn’t seen in nearly six decades?
On a Sunday during the fall 2005 elk season, 71-year-old hunter Daniel Jacobs was reported missing to Navajo County authorities, who subsequently dispatched a county search and rescue unit to the area where he was last seen. After about seven hours, the team that included Heber resident Paul Voightman found Jacobs, who, despite being resolved to spending a chilly night in the mountains, was fine. As the two began to talk, they realized they were childhood pals, and had attended school together in Iowa City, Iowa in the mid-1940s. Both now reside in Arizona.
Even though Jacobs failed to beat the odds and bag his elk this season, he was able to rekindle an old friendship instead.
“The two of us meeting again under these circumstances...what are the chances of something like this happening?” Voightman said.