If you follow me on any social media sites, you already know I’ve been antelope hunting out on the prairie. This antelope season’s been different than years past. The property we usually hunt wasn’t available and the public land we’d found some monsters on was over-run with other hunters on opening day. We relocated to a new spot, only to find a lot of young bucks. They quite simply need a little more time to grow up.
Yes. You read that right. We don’t just shoot the first thing we see.
After talking to a few landowners in our newly discovered area, we learned predators had decimated the antelope populations. The ranchers and farmers begged us to shoot any coyotes we saw and asked that we come back during cougar season. We did see three mature bucks while we were there. We hope the locals will allow them to continue to grow and manage the population as well.
After a week off for work, school and appointments, we headed to yet another area of the prairie. Keep in mind; each trip to antelope hunt is a six-hour drive. As we trucked across the state, we drove into a storm. We arrived at our camping spot, climbed into the camper and conked out.
In the morning I awoke before daylight and learned our refrigerator unit wasn’t firing. We went to a local market, picked up dry ice, threw it in and planned to manage the unit when we returned from hunting.
That morning we put a stalk on a decent buck. Lea’s knee was aching and bothered her when she belly-crawled or crouched. That, plus the fact the couple of does and fawns running with him led to lopes headed the wrong way.
We managed to find another couple young bucks that also were too receptive for a stalk. Toward the end of the day, we found granddaddy. Darkness approached so we planned to throw the blind by a nearby waterhole before daylight the next morning.
We made the 30-mile drive back to camp, pulled the generator outside, started it, fell into bed and snored the night away.
I awoke before daylight, made coffee, packed the cooler with lunch, water and snacks and we hit the road. Lea slept the entire drive to the waterhole. When we arrived, I couldn’t rouse her. She said she felt sick and her head hurt. I let her sleep in the truck as I watched the waterhole, from miles away, to see if the buck came. Thankfully he didn’t.
A couple hours later, Lea awoke. She thought she felt okay enough to have a sit. It seemed like a struggle but I lugged the blind over to the waterhole, out of breath, I managed to get it set up and staked down. We sat a spell, then headed for air conditioning. As we drove, we laughed because both our eyes were burning. We joked that I looked like a “real Coloradoan” with my red eyes. We ate lunch in the air-conditioned truck and headed back to wait for Mr. Big. We waited until dark but he never returned to that water hole.
An exhausted pair, we both gulped dinner and climbed into bed.
The following morning I awoke, with a SCREAMING HEADACHE. I woke Lea up and we headed to yet another water hole. Neither of us felt grand enough to stalk or hike. We arrived at our destination, only to see a father and son walking back to their truck.
We looked at each other, dizzy-eyed with our headaches and said, “I don’t feel like driving any further.” My head hurt so bad, I felt like throwing up and couldn’t even focus enough to decide where to go next. We thought we may be getting the flu and headed back to camp.
Lea’s knee hurt too much to hike. We were too nauseous to sit in the heat. Unlike our usual selves, who persevere through anything, we decided we better head home.
I hooked up the trailer and we pulled onto the highway. Then it dawned on us. We forgot about the hunk of dry ice in the refrigerator. Can you believe this? We were poisoning ourselves! Lea looked up our symptoms, “headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision… and lastly, loss of consciousness.”
Lea yells, “Are we stupid, or are we dumb?!”
Mind you; we both know you’re supposed to use dry ice in a well-ventilated area. We also know it can poison a person. We don’t know how we could’ve forgotten, and we don’t know how that drafty, camper could’ve held the fumes as such. The fact of the matter is, it did.
We’re both feeling better. Our vision is clear, headaches’ gone. It’s a story I’m NOT proud of. Please, please pay attention to these details. Had we not been gone, hunting so often, this situation could’ve ended up with the last symptom. Today we’re very thankful to God because he told us not to stay.
p.s. We took Lea to the doc today and learned her knee injury from a June basketball game has been healing, but a small tear in her hamstring has been growing. She’s back on crutches and on the road to recovery.
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