Deer Hunting
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By Dave Lewis

Muzzloader deer season had just opened in Oklahoma. Short sleeve shirts were comfortable during the day and a lightweight sleeping bag worked just fine at night. A couple of friends and I cut out of work early one Friday and headed down to southeastern Oklahoma for an early season hunt.

After a three-hour drive we settled into a camp site on land that was owned by one of the major paper companies. This land was open to the public for hunting and we believed – as all hunters do – that we had a reasonable chance of finding a white tail buck who wanted to commit suicide by hunter.

On Saturday morning we rolled out of our tents and headed out into the woods after a quick breakfast. One friend – let’s just call him Ray – knew of a “good spot” a couple of miles from our camp site. Ray was driving a mid 70’s vintage Chevy pickup. It had a three speed shift on the steering column (remember those?) and the old foot pedal parking brake. Ray had one of those white metal tool boxes in the bed behind the cab.

The morning was cool and it had rained during the night. That morning Ray and I planned to slowly walk along a ridge and then sit looking into a small valley. Ray pulled his pickup off a dirt road, shut the engine down and just left the truck in gear. I was about a hundred yards behind him in my van and watched what happened next.

Ray got out of his truck and opened the tool box. He reached in to get his rifle and day pack. As he did the truck popped out of gear and started to roll backwards. Since the driver’s side door was still open, Ray tried to jump into the truck and set the parking brake with his foot.

Unfortunately the truck was on wet grass and Ray was wearing smooth sole cowboy boots. He slipped and fell under the front wheel. The truck rolled over him and continued backwards down into a steep-sided ditch, rolling over onto the passenger side and the windshield popped out.

When I watched my friend disappear under the truck I figured that he’d been killed. But I drove up next to him and heard him cursing – so I knew that he was alive. I spent four years in the Navy but I’ll say that I learned some new words that morning. Ray was in considerable pain but he wasn’t bleeding and seemed to be able to breathe okay. He was able to get up into a sitting position so I rather foolishly decided to drive him to the local emergency room.

We stopped by our campsite to leave a note for the two other guys (father and son) who were hunting with us. No cell phones or walkie talkies in those far-off days. We drove to the closest hospital – about a 45 minute trip – and watched the ER people trying to keep from laughing as we described the accident. Ray had a broken collar bone and some pretty bad bruises. They took a bunch of x-rays, put Ray in a sling, loaded him up with pain killers and sent us on our way about eight hours later.

The next morning we got Ray’s pickup back on its wheels with the help of a local guy’s four wheel drive Ford, a couple of snatch straps, and a bunch of helpful and only slightly drunk people. I took the pickup into town and had the guy at the local hardware store cut a piece of plexiglass that I duct-taped over the windshield opening.

Ray drove my automatic transmission van for the 150 mile trip back home. I drove his wounded pickup and the plexiglass managed to keep most of the wind out of my face. I got some very strange looks but the drive was pretty uneventful.

When we got to Ray’s house I pulled into his driveway, jumped into my van, and got away as fast as I could. He later said that his couch really wasn’t all that uncomfortable and that his wife started to talk to him again after about a week.

Ray died from cancer about ten years ago. I visited him in the hospital a few weeks before he passed. He was pretty well doped up against what must have been incredible pain. We talked for a few munutes as my friend drifted in and out of reality. When I got ready to leave, Ray smiled at me and said, “Do me a favor before you go. Would you check the wheels on this bed and make sure that the brakes are set.”

They were.

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  1. Lesson learned . allways make sure your vehicle is in park & use your brakes. I had an old Winnebago , Ford slant six , column shift. Unique to drive but I would not want to be run over by it. Bad day for Ray. There are also “so called hunters ” shoot at anything that moves. If you are hunting wear appropriate clothing. N.Y. upstate Deruyter used to be my home. Many a stray round reside in outer walls. Idiots with guns .the moral of this is , not everyone should hunt.

    • Not really a “slant” 6 like the old Mopar ones (in all the applications I’ve seen its installed with the bores oriented vertically), but the Ford 300 c.i.d. straight-6 is right up there in contention for greatest motor of all time. As (if not more than) durable as the vaunted Mopar Slant 6 (7 main bearings, timing gears), makes impressive peak torque at a whale-shit-low 2000 RPM, these things were ideal for truck duty. Never made a ton of power, but they put them in everything from passenger trucks to RVs to school buses to tow-trucks and dump-trucks. A friends dad has an old stake-bed pickup with a 300 in it. Has owned that truck for longer than I’ve been alive and swears the only maintenance he’s ever done on the motor has been plugs, oil/filter changes, alternator/belt, and carb filter change. I’ve driven that truck and it starts every time, runs great, pulls strong even with a load, hell the owner swears he gets 150 psi compression on all 6 cylinders. Oh and the mileage is currently over 450,000 miles 🙂

    • I’ve always taken the “slant six” term to be generic for inline six cylinder, although I prefer the term “straight six.”

  2. For whatever reason, I saw the picture and thought this story was going to be about a buck white-tail deer that attacked (gored) a hunter. That would be a valuable story to read and from which to learn.

    Every time I trek through the woods in total darkness, I am always concerned about an amped-up buck in-rut deciding that he doesn’t want me in his territory. And that is on top of worrying about cougars, bears, bobcats, coyotes, feral dogs, and feral hogs deciding to come after me as well. At least I don’t have to worry about alligators!

  3. That was a fine story. Even through the pain and dope, Ray knew what to say to help you remember him and realize he’d appreciated your help those many years ago. Old friends are often the best friends.

  4. “heard him cursing – so I knew that he was alive.”

    Moral of the story – Smooth soled cowboy boots are pretty useless for anything besides dancing in a honky tonk with a sawdust-covered floor.

    • There good for scraping cow patties and mud off your heel. Also tough as hell if you get a good pair.


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