When you explore wild country you expect to encounter animals that can kill you. Lions, bears and now wolf packs are abundant and are a constant threat to the wilderness explorer. Other less dramatic threats are common. You can sprain an ankle and not make it back to your truck or shelter, hypothermia can take you.
In the 1994 movie Legends of the Fall, Tristan Ludlow meets his death hunting in grizzly country. If I get a choice that’s how I want to go; I want to die a man’s death in the midst of a grand adventure, meeting my end defending what I know to be noble would be a good second choice.
Three years ago I lost 95% of the hearing in my right ear and 10 to 15% of the hearing in my left ear. Prior to that, I used to have excellent hearing, well above average. I loved being outside because of the quite and being able to hear things in nature. As a kid I discovered that I picked up on the natural world better than most people and I like being immersed in it. I miss having that connection.
Today I had a job out of town near a section of mountains that I like to hunt. I did the assignment and headed up to hunt deer. The day was beautiful, the air clean and crisp. I drove to the end of the trail and started hiking up the mountain. After several miles I heard a fluttering sound, like a cross between a bee and a grasshopper. Looking around I couldn’t find what was making the noise. Only hearing out of one ear makes it hard to locate sounds.
I took another step turned and couldn’t see what was making the sound. Then I started looking around on the ground in front of me, nothing. I made it up onto a large section of rock. No more noise. Then I saw him. There was a small rattlesnake about 14 inches long. He had two little buttons on his rattle that barley made any sound. He was keeping his head under his body and wasn’t likely to strike. He wanted me to not step on him. I obliged.
I don’t know what the deal is, in the last month I’ve come across more venomous snakes than in the last 16 years. I hope one day to die in the mountains, in the open air, under a big sky, but not from snake bite.
My buddy Bill’s dad got that wish this year. At least close to it, at 80 some years old he died in his sleep in elk camp after spending one last great day in the splendor that is