Looking back on memorable 'sidebar' moments
Here are some sidebars to the main pursuit stories.
Years ago when my wife, Beth, and I were still in our twenties we paid for a day hunt lease near Llano, Texas. As many of you know Llano County is the heart of white-tailed deer hunting in Central Texas. Deer are thick in numbers.
The rancher dropped Beth off near some cattle pens. He assured her that she would see deer later near the pens. He took me, Mom and Dad on farther into the ranch.
The rancher picked up the three of us at dark. On the way in he went toward the pens where Beth was hunting. She had killed a doe earlier in the afternoon but as darkness began to creep into the woods several wild feral hogs showed up and began to try to eat Beth’s deer. When we arrived a big hog had her doe by the tongue attempting to drag it away. Beth had the doe by a foot, holding on for dear life. The hogs took off when we arrived.
I don’t remember much about the deer hunt but I can still see my lady playing tug-a-war with that hog. It’s an awesome sidebar memory.
Many years ago my friend, Ron Carnes, myself and my little son, Terry, drove to the Kyle-Buda area just as the sun was disappearing into the western horizon. We planned to catch some big bullfrogs at a large, private lake. We had heard frog’s bellowing several times when on fishing trips to the lake.
I had a little .410 gauge single-shot shotgun and we had a frog gig. We had barely started our hunt when we saw a strong light coming from the west. As it neared us it was very low, with numerous flashing lights. When it was right over the lake no engine could be heard. Only a “swishing sound”.
We were terrified. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck. Was it really a UFO? I don’t know. If not, it’s the closest thing to one that I can imagine.
I distinctly remember cocking the hammer on the little .410 and pointing it at the space craft. Like a tiny shotgun was going to protect us!
We thought it was going to land in the pasture beside the lake but it glided on toward Austin.
That ended our frog hunting trip. We got the heck out of there. If this story sounds far out, it is. Ask Ron or Terry and they will tell you the same. What a sidebar!
In 1983 our family was living in Pensacola, Florida where I was the pastor of Liberty Church. We took a summer camping vacation to the Smoky Mountain National Park. On our way to the park we drove down the Nantahala River valley. Whitewater enthusiasts in rafts were enjoying the river.
“Can we go rafting, Daddy?” asked the kids.
The next day we rented a raft and floated the Nantahala. It was so much fun. From that day our family became white-water rafting pursuers. We rafted several eastern rivers like the Ochoa, Chattooga, and French Broad. Plus some western rivers.
In the summer of 1987, Beth, our youngest son, Tim, and I were moving back to Texas. Terry was already in Texas and our daughter, Teresa, married Bill Paschall the day we left.
We now owned our own raft – a little two-man craft. The three of us made a nice float down the Nantahala in the little boat. It was just like old times, except for the smaller raft.
The Nantahala is a gentle river. Whitewater is rated on a 1 to 6 scale. One is a gentle ripple, with 6 being very dangerous – almost death. The Nantahala has only one difficult rapid - a class 4. It was actually a small waterfall with many powerful hydraulics.
We knew how to shoot that rapid, but Beth demanded that we put her on the shore.
“I’m not going through that dangerous rapid in this dinky little raft,” she said.
So with shouts of “chicken” we put her out. To shoot the rapid you needed to stay to the right of the falls, paddle hard and shoot right through the hydraulics. Tim and I hit it perfect.
“Piece of cake,” we said. “ Let’s do it again.”
We carried the raft several hundred yards above the rapid and launched into the river again. This time we were filled with confidence. Maybe I should say “over confident”.
Instead of paddling fast we piddled around and went off the falls on the left side. Our weak momentum didn’t carry us on out of the hydraulics. We were caught in boiling, turbulent water. A powerful hydraulic kept trying to pull our little boat down but it couldn’t quite do it. The raft would pop up like a wild bull. We were hanging on for dear life.
People from the shore were shouting, “paddle out." We couldn’t. Just trying to stay in the bucking raft had our full attention.
“They’re going to drown. Someone help them. Throw them a rope.” We could faintly hear all these desperate words over the roar of the water.
Suddenly, they hydraulic sucked the raft deep into the boiling water and then released. As we flew into the air the raft flipped. Tim was thrown past the rapid and I grabbed a rope on the side of the raft as it sailed beyond the rapid. We were both safe. I can’t tell you much about that day of rafting but the dangerous sidebar is vivid.