When we last left off with Part 1 of the Leghorn Calamity, I’d looked up at the sound of a crash to watch as our Polaris Ranger Crew assumed an orientation other than horizontal. I immediately shucked my knife and gloves, and started at a dead sprint towards the downed Ranger. While I found a gear that I hadn’t used since my college track and field days, I remember thinking that I had nothing in the way of first aid supplies, my phone was dead, and the nearest medical attention was nearly 45 minutes away . . .
Somewhere along the way, the engine stopped running, and I couldn’t hear screaming or yelling which could be a good thing or a very bad thing. I pulled up on the scene to find Nick upright and walking away from the wreck in a bit of a daze. I didn’t see any visible injuries, but he did a 360 to make sure there wasn’t any blood. And lo, he emerged unscathed. The Ranger, not so much.
To quote from ‘Raging Bull’, “He ain’t pretty no more.” Nick didn’t just do a garden variety barrel roll with the Ranger. He managed to stop all of its forward momentum by clipping the driver’s side front wheel on an exposed drainage pipe. That action snapped the A-arm, twisted up a strut, and drove the wheel through the wheel well. It also managed to throw Nick’s go-to hunting rifle clear of the wreck.
Now, I give Nick a hard time regularly, and for this he got his due ration of shit, but I’m truly thankful he not only survived, but emerged relatively unscathed. The whole event could have had a far more tragic outcome. Short of a bruise and a slightly banged up AR, Leghorn has nary a scratch on him.
After we realized that he was going to survive, Nick and I decided the best course of action would be to head back to the house on foot about a quarter mile away, tell my parents what happened, get the Ranger righted, recover Kevin, and finish gutting out the deer. We managed to get all that done and like me, Kevin and my parents were most pleased to hear that Nick was alright. Though I’m happy to say that Kevin got a couple well-deserved shots in at Nick while my dad and I used a tractor to get the Ranger back upright.
Once the deer was hung up to cool, we sat down for dinner. Joking that all of the bad luck we avoided at TIFF had apparently been bottled up for one evening’s worth of excitement, I watched my dad’s eyes go dinner plate sized as he screamed, “Fire!” Turns out that in our excitement to sit down for dinner, we’d forgotten about two loaves of garlic bread in the oven. They’d gone combustible and were quickly gaining fiery momentum. I grabbed an extinguisher, and with the help of my dad, put the flames out.
We settled back into dinner table conversation joking that Nick had really brought a pox upon the house, and started making plans for using the thermal night vision gear that Kevin had trucked in to go hunting for little piggies. Like a good mother, mine insisted on loading us up on Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches to “give us energy” for our nighttime excursion. Originally, we’d planned on using the Ranger to cover more ground, but that was no longer an option so we took off on foot. The ice cream sandwiches were a welcome fuel source.
And after a few hours of stalking around, and a lot of rabbits, whitetails, and raccoons, we decided to take a short hiatus to drive Nick’s deer to my processor. We knew they’d be closed, but they maintain an after hours number you can call to get the code to the combination lock on the cooler. I figured we’d pop in, call the number, get Nick’s deer in cold storage, load up on Red Bull, and head back out for a few more hours of hunting.
Unfortunately, due to the Leghorn curse, nobody answered the on call numbers. Figuring that some cold was better than no cold, we stopped at a nearby gas station to pick up ice to pack the body cavity. Overnight temps were in the low 40’s and a buck that big and stinky was destined to become sausage anyway so I wasn’t worried. While I loaded up the deer with ice, Nick and Kevin went inside to get the aforementioned Red Bulls, Monsters, and snacks. Nick came out, snagged my truck keys to put everything inside and helped me pack the rest of the ice in the buck. Like the new ads below this article say, “You’ll never guess what happened next!”
Tyler: “Nick, can you unlock my truck so I can grab some baby wipes? I’ve got blood all over my hands.”
Nick: “Truck’s unlocked.”
Tyler: Jiggles door handle “Nope”
Nick: Long pause “Noooo. Noooooo. Noooooo”
Tyler: “Did you lock my keys in the truck?” Spies keys on dash. “Oh you locked my keys in the truck didn’t you?”
Kevin: breaks out in laughter
Tyler: “Nick, sit on the curb.”
Nick: “How will you get in? Should we call AAA or something?”
Tyler: “NO! I’m breaking into my truck.”
At this point, I made a lap of my truck and finding myself fresh out of a slim jim to pop the lock, I went for the next best thing, the sliding glass window. Note to future car thieves, what I’m about to describe is the most awkward way to break into a ten-year-old Toyota Tacoma.
First, jump into the bed of the truck. Second, take a knife you really cherish from your pocket. In my case, a Chris Reeve Small Sebenza given to me by a family friend to celebrate my first wedding anniversary. Jam the point of the knife into the crack between the glass and the weather seal where the lock mechanism exists. Listen as a Georgia native famous for making loud guns quiet tells you that you’re going to break the tip off your knife. Assure him that this is a Chris Reeve blade, so the steel is made of dragon’s teeth and can’t break. Push and pry with your knife until you hear a pop and the window slides open.
That pop happened to be the tiniest bit of the tip breaking off my knife. But the best was truly yet to come. The aspiring thief will notice that unless he’s endowed with six foot arms or a waist of approximately twenty six inches, the manual door locks of the Tacoma’s rear doors will still remain out of reach. Now that’s a hard scientific fact. One that Leghorn, a self-professed scientist, attempted to challenge.
While he rooted around and made various grunting noises, I went inside to ask the cashiers if they had any tools. Ideally, I wanted a set of long-handled needle nose pliers. I had to settle for a claw hammer. To frame the scene though, it’s important to understand that I was beyond tired, frustrated, and at this point ready to try anything to get me home.
So when I stormed out of the convenience store, hammer in hand, walking aggressively, I guess I looked a little threatening to Nick who exclaimed, “Whoah man!” I’m not sure if he thought I was going to break his skull or the window, but I did manage to successfully jimmy the lock while Kevin worked the door handle and we finally got inside my truck. I returned the hammer to the cashiers, thanked them, and headed back outside.
The ride home was fairly silent, though I did make Nick listen to some 5th Ward Weebie at full volume to punish him for the shitty day. This particular song sparked a heated discussion about Atlanta, strip clubs, and rap music. For future reference, rap music and talk of the booty club makes Nick feel all weird.
Finally back at the house at some time well past midnight, I encouraged Nick and Kevin to go hunt some more, but told them that I was going to curl up in a ball in bed until daylight came to find me. I insisted on the top bunk as I was certain that giving it to Nick would result in a structural failure leading to my demise. You can never be too sure when dealing with a curse.
The next morning found us tucked safely into our beds, the cold front that had gotten the bucks moving around the day before intent on delivering cold, wind, and overcast skies. None of us felt very enthusiastic about taking to the field, so I went back to town to drop the deer off. This time, the on-call guys answered, letting me know they’d been fighting an actual house fire the night before (!) and that’s why they didn’t answer. I got the buck hung up as best I could, kicked on the cooler, and headed out.
I figured that I’d bullied Nick enough the day before so I got some donuts from his favorite Laotian donut place in Kerrville to smooth things over and headed back. We munched on donuts and breakfast tacos, laughed about the night before, and made plans to go shoot some guns. We also committed to putting Kevin on the elusive Black Buck that had managed to evade him the day before.
Several misses against the Black Buck later, we gave up, and used the gusting winds to work on our wind calls using the SIG 716 DMR Kevin had brought along. Once dialed in, we were putting the hurt on a steel IPSC target at 485 yards with boring regularity. But upon realizing that the weather was only going to deteriorate, we went back to the house, packed up our gear, and headed to our respective homes for the evening.
I headed out first, and sent the guys a text to let them know that our donkeys and horses were near the front gate. The horses aren’t interested in escape, but our mammoth donkey, Henry loves a game. His favorite is to wait until you’re through the gate, and then to pour on the coals to get through before it closes automatically.
I mention this only because five minutes after I’d left, I got a message from Kevin to say that “the big donkey got out.” I turned around, and upon arriving found Henry and Nick standing next to each other about 100 yards down the road. I grabbed a tie strap from my truck and looped it around Henry’s neck. He knows when he’s caught. I got Nick to drive behind the donkey while I walked him back to the gate. Once he was safely back behind bars, I turned to Nick and said, “You about ready for this adventure to be over?”
He dropped his head, mumbled something about all his good luck from TIFF haunting him here, and jumped in his car. He went back to San Antonio while Kevin and I caravanned back to Austin.
Anybody who has spent enough time in the outdoors has had a weekend like this, and I’m honestly surprised it took this long to have such a wild charlie foxtrot of a time. Luckily, we kept our wits and our humor about us in the face of some truly scary stuff, and this one will go down in the record books as a memorable time we wish not to repeat.
Oh, and about Nick’s deer. Given that he’s now in debt to the Kee family for the repairs to the Ranger, he didn’t think getting a mount for his deer was in the cards. But it didn’t seem right to let his trophy go to waste. So I went ahead and had Woodbury’s Taxidermy start on a European mount. If you’d like to contribute to the trophy fund (or the Ranger Repair fund), shoot a message to [email protected]