The dull — but happy — truth is fishing and hunting are almost always the relaxing interludes we intend for them to be. Potential disasters, let alone real ones are extremely rare, and circumstances which can be classified under varying combinations of irritating, frustrating or embarrassing are the exception, not the rule.
But be all that as it may, Murphy had a point when he said, “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.” When I’m the victim of one of those “somethings,” especially if it’s the result of my own actions or inactions, beneath my (usually) calm exterior, I can assure you I’m not handling the situation very well. Fortunately, it’s been my experience that getting into trouble outdoors is a great way to meet very nice people.
For example, when I got to the boat ramp at Truman Lake’s Windsor Crossing about sunrise last Monday morning, there was nobody else there, which at the time, I didn’t think mattered one way or the other.
When I’m by myself, as I was that morning, I tie a 25-foot rope from the boat’s bow eye to the front of the boat trailer. To launch, I back down the ramp fairly rapidly and when the rear of the boat floats, I stomp on the brake. Inertia backs the boat clear of the trailer, and I drive ahead far enough to get the trailer clear of the water, so the boat can ground itself on the ramp.
Imagine my surprise when I started back up the ramp, and the boat didn’t follow me! The rope, which I’d been using for years, had broken right at the bow eye. The boat’s offshore motion slowed until it was almost imperceptible, but it didn’t stop. About a year later — or it may have been 45 minutes, I’m not sure which — it was obvious the boat was going to pass under the highway PP bridge.
That’s when I saw a truck pulling a boat trailer stop at the top of the ramp behind me. One of its occupants walked down the ramp, assessed the situation and told me not to worry. He also told me he’d done the same thing himself. I don’t know if that was true or not, but it sure made me feel better.
In almost less time than it takes to tell the tale, their boat was in the water, and I was being ferried out to my mine. Thanks to three nice people, my day and perhaps my boat were saved.
Another recent example of how nice people can soothe an outdoor misadventure took place at the Sedalia Rod and Gun Club’s rifle range. I hadn’t been to the range for awhile and didn’t know that the club had been forced to keep its promise to stop providing target butts if members didn’t stop vandalizing them. So there I was, in complete agreement with the club’s action but left with no way to hang a target, so I could sight in a new rifle.
There was one person using the multi-bench 100-yard range and when he saw I was about to leave, he waved me down and offered to share space on his moveable target stand. Thanks to his generosity, which wound up including moving the target up and down the range to suit my needs, I was able to do what I set out to do.
I’ve had the privilege of being one of the “nice people” several times over the years. I’ve even helped save people from life threatening situations, but perhaps my favorite rescue happened one day when my then eight-year-old grandson — who’s now an adult and lives in Australia — and I were spending a day on Truman Lake alternating periods of fishing, swimming and eating hot dogs grilled over driftwood fires.
We were heading back to the old road we’d used as a boat ramp when we spotted what I assumed was a married couple whose boat was hung up on a submerged stob. The man gave no indication he needed help, but we motored up beside him anyway. When I asked if they needed help, the man said no, and his wife said yes.
If you are now, ever have been or ever will be married, you know there was no way I could abandon a fellow husband to his fate. We linked our boats with a 20-foot rope and after some experimenting, managed to free his boat.
When we were out of earshot, Ben asked me why I had “butted in” to help someone who hadn’t asked for help. I replied, “Because he needed help, and that’s all anyone should have to do to get help.”
Gerald Scott can be reached at [email protected]