Accidents: They could happen to you

Accidents: They could happen to you

Two local hunters, Bert Watson and Martin Shea, became life savers of two experienced hunters while duck hunting in a cypress lake near Twist, Arkansas.

It was the second Sunday in January and it was extremely cold with freeing temps and a stiff north wind, Bert and Martin headed out to their duck hole in the afternoon near Twist.

They stopped by the duck camp to see who was hunting and what blinds were not in use.

They were in for an unpleasant surprise.

Driving into the camp they saw two men unconscious in the yard. They were members of the club.

One hunter was 60 years old and the second hunter was 80. They picked them up and got them into the warm house, got their wet clothes off of them and covered them with warm blankets. They then called 911 and help arrived in about 10 minutes. The ambulance carried them to Jonesboro to St. Bernard Hospital. The old hunter had a core temperature of 74 degrees. Anything under 95 degrees is a sign of hypothermia and is extremely dangerous.

Thanks to the fast actions of Watson and Shea, both men survived the ordeal.

Shea had to give CPR to the older hunter while waiting for help.

Our hero sportsmen later got the full story of what happened. The older hunters were hunting out of a pontoon boat duck blind and decided to go back to the camp. As the older man stepped on the pontoon to get into a small duck boat, he slipped on the ice and fell into the freezing water. The second hunter jumped in and pulled him to the bank that was only about 30 yards away. They got into the truck and drove to the camp house where they tried to get out and go into the house. They could not make it and went down in the yard where they became unconscious, laying on the frozen ground in freezing temps. Both hunters say they do not remember getting out of the truck or how long they were exposed to the bitter temperature.

We can analyze what they did wrong and maybe take a lesson from the near tragedy. To begin with, the weather conditions were dangerous, but that’s the kind of weather duck hunters like. The blind had iced over and was very slick with poor footing.

The duck boat was a small canoe like boat. When hunting use big boats and good equipment. The good thing was the bank being close and their truck was there. Why they did not stay in the truck with the heater going, they don’t know. The older hunter was unconscious and apparently his hunting buddy passed out trying to get him in the house. They were both soaking wet and hypothermic.

Hypothermia is a term all hunters have heard but few understand how dangerous it can be. It lowers the body core temperature to the dangerous point where both physical and mental functions can not be performed. You literally freeze from the inside out.

These hunters were lucky to be around to go hunting again. As hunters we have all done foolish things. The Good Lord was just looking after us. If it looks too dangerous, use your good sense. A limit of mallards is not worth the risk.

I am sure Bert Watson and Martin Shea had their lives impacted. Something like this really changes your perspective. Fortunately they were in the right place at the right time and had the expertise to save these men. They are true heroes!

Lets hope for a good end of duck season. This cold weather should help bring more ducks, but there is so much flooded river waters around, the ducks will be spread out. Take a kid hunting and be sure to get his first duck mounted at Lakeside Taxidermy. Send me some pictures and stories of your hunts.

Good hunting and please be careful. It only takes one wrong step for a tragedy.

Papa Duck Lakeside Taxidermy 870-732-0455 or 901-4823430

By John Criner Outdoors Columnist