By Montana Grant

Posted: August 10, 2023

We have all made some poor choices when afield. Injury or worse can result from not planning, preparing, or considering safety risks.

Montana is a rural place. Citizens play in remote areas where things can go bad in a hurry. Many of these places have no cell phone service. During an average archery elk hunt, it is not uncommon to hunt several miles. The hunt may take you into deep, black forest. One slip and you have a broken bone, sprain, or other injury.

What was your near-death wilderness story? It may have happened on a lake when a storm blew in. The forest you were hiking in may have caught on fire. Maybe you just got lost and had to stay overnight in the woods. There are also the close encounters with bears or other wild critters.

When we think about our close calls, we also remember what we could have done differently or what we did that saved the day. There are so many ways to get injured or have a near death experience.

One of my close calls came when I was crossing a large bay in a 20-foot open Jon boat. I had 2 passengers and was hanging onto a 40 HP outboard motor. We were doing a fishery biology project that lasted late into the afternoon. When it was done, we loaded up and began the wide bay crossing. The rest of the biology team was on larger boats.

We began the crossing when a huge storm came in. Lightening, hail, wind, whitecaps, and waterspouts. This storm was a death wish. I was able to manage the motors throttle to handle the waves. My 2 passengers were spread apart and hanging for dear life. One was lying at the bottom of the boat crying. We all put on our life vests and were scared. For over an hour the little ship was tossed. We finally came close to shore, but I had missed the boat ramp by 2 miles. I swung the boat northward into the oncoming waves. Whew, we made it!

When things get crazy, don’t panic. It is ok to be scared, who wouldn’t be. Focus and look for solutions. Anyone can freak out and give up. If you stay calm and come up with a plan, things will get better.

Stay safe!

Montana Grant

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