As deer season approaches, we begin to prepare our selves, equipment and hunting land for the countless hours we will be spending in the woods. In our eagerness, we tend to think less about our safety. I was guilty of it, up until a few years ago. The events that happened that day, burn through my mind every time I climb a tree or place a stand in a tree.
We had lost one of our hunting leases in Georgia and thankfully we had found another soon after that. In the short time we had before bow season began, we found ourselves moving stands from one piece of land to another. My husband, Bryan and I lease land with Lee. We have known Lee for almost twenty years, he is a part of our family and our kids know him as “Uncle Lee”. Lee, Bryan and I went to the old hunting property to remove Lee’s lock-on stand that was located between a swamp and a sandy cotton field. We were fortunate enough to park on the edge of the woods, just 15 yards from the stand. As Bryan and Lee entered the woods, I stirred around the border of the field looking for arrowheads. I glanced in the woods often, noticing Lee climbing the metal sticks some twenty feet up the tree and Bryan below him watching cautiously.
Not finding any arrowheads, I started moving back towards the woods. I looked up to see Lee reaching to grab a short pine limb. In a split second, the short limb had snapped and Leroy’s body fell to the ground, but not before hitting a few large limbs that flipped him like a rag doll in mid air. I ran into the woods where he had landed, Bryan was kneeling down next to him, asking Lee if he could feel his legs. Bryan looked at me and said “what do we do?” I replied, “We really shouldn’t move him, call an ambulance!” Just then we heard Lee’s gruff, but shaky voice say, “I don’t need no damn ambulance, just get me the h@%l out of here!” I didn’t want to move him, but Lee was not going to stay down. I quickly checked him over, noticing every scratch and cut. I scanned each arm and leg, but when I looked at his right foot, I noticed something odd. Lee’s foot was twisted and the toe of his snake boot was facing a very unnatural direction. “Look at his foot”, I said to Bryan. Bryan’s face turned a pale as he said “I think your ankle is broke Lee.”
At this point, I have to admit the adrenaline was starting to come over me and I jumped up and started clearing a path out of the woods. I was picking up huge tree limbs and throwing them out of the way. Bryan called to me, “come on let’s get him out of here!” I ran back, grabbed an arm and we carried Lee out of the woods and to the passenger seat of his truck. I climbed into the back seat and Bryan jumped into the driver’s seat and we started to head out to the main road. From the back seat of that truck, it seemed like we were moving so slow. As we traveled down the black top, I remember telling Bryan, “You better drive it like you stole it, Lee doesn’t look too good.” Lee had started sweating profusely and his body was shaking. “Breathe, just breathe” I would tell him. The hospital was about fifteen minutes away, but I think we made it there in half that time.
We arrived at the emergency room and the nurse took him back. Bryan stayed with him as I filled out the paperwork and insurance information. I made the call to his wife, as she cried, I told her that “I would call her back when we found out more information.” The nurse finally let me go back after waiting for about thirty minutes. The doctor came in and explained to us that the snake boot had kept the bone from breaking the skin. He also advised us that we needed to take him home to his hospital in North Carolina, four hours away! Lee agreed that he would be more comfortable with his own doctor. The Georgia doctor loaded Lee with pain medicine and we made the journey home. We met his wife at their house and she rushed Lee to the hospital, where he had a plate and screws put into his ankle to hold the bones together. He also developed blood clots in his lungs after the surgery, which made his recovery time longer.
He was in the hospital for two weeks before they released him.
After a few weeks of physical therapy, Lee was finally able to hobble on his leg well enough to go bow hunting. There was only one problem; Lee couldn’t climb up a ladder on his ankle. So, Bryan set up a ground blind, just off the logging road that runs through our property. Bryan and I would take turns dropping him off and picking him up. As it turns out, Lee harvested a nice buck out of that ground blind during bow season. This accident could have been much worse and it probably could have been prevented. I am glad we didn’t loose our friend that day!