Being a sportsmen means helping out

Mike Smith thought he was safe from the water until a rainstorm decided to swamp his camp. The writer came along like the cavalry to lend a hand.

Photo by Don Martin.

Mike Smith thought he was safe from the water until a rainstorm decided to swamp his camp. The writer came along like the cavalry to lend a hand.

Over the many years that I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the great outdoors on various hunting, fishing or conservation projects, I have occasionally had the opportunity to help out a fellow sportsman who was in need.

It is something that I call a no-brainer: you see someone in trouble, you stop what you are doing and you help out.

You do what is needed to resolve the problem.

Helping out works both ways. In the past I’ve needed help and fortunately other sportsmen have stepped up to help.

In short, it is what we as sportsmen do.

Last Wednesday, while on the general javelina hunt in Unit 18B, I was out with my brother Gary and sister-in-law Tammy Martin when we came across a situation that obviously called for immediate attention.

We noticed a camp on the banks of a large stock tank, which was swollen twice the normal size as a result of the recent heavy rains that flooded the area.

In the camp was a tent, an ATV with a trailer and a newer Chevrolet pickup.

The tent and ATV trailer looked to be next to water, while the pickup was obviously mired up to the frame in the soft gooey mud.

Initially, we didn’t see anyone around the camp, but as we drove up the door of the pickup opened and out stepped a man who would quickly be our new friend.

His name is Michael Smith and he is from Delta, Utah.

Mike had come up to the area to go javelina hunting for the first time. He had hunted quail in this unit before, but it was his first javelina hunt and he was alone.

Smith said he had camped in the same area when he had been there on a quail hunt and was a long ways from the pond.

But what he didn’t know was that a rainstorm was coming in and before it ended more than a half-inch of rain would fall in a very short time.

The Utah resident had no clue what was about to happen.

It started raining, but Smith felt he was fine inside his tent.

Then, at about 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning, he heard his propane heater fall over into what sounded like water.

He turned on his flashlight to see that the tent was filling up fast with water, and that it was in fact at the bottom of his cot.

Smith quickly loaded up what he could and ran to his pickup, which was parked above his tent, ATV and ATV trailer. There he took refuge for the rest of the night.

When daylight came Tuesday morning, he was shocked to see that floodwaters were halfway up his tent; his brand new Polaris Razor was partially submerged, as was the ATV trailer.

Smith noticed that an ice chest left outside his tent was now over 300 yards away floating in the still-rising floodwaters.

As the water started to recede he decided that he would pull out his ATV and trailer with his 4x4 truck.

But as he started to drive around, the truck suddenly and unexpectedly sank into the black mud, which had the consistency of Jell-O.

In minutes the truck sank down until it was resting on the frame. The tires would only spin in the gooey mess.

Smith was stuck and he knew it.

The area is between Francis Creek and Sycamore Camp ranches, but it was highly unlikely that anyone would be on the road for days. He just settled in and waited.

It was very obvious that Smith was glad to see us drive up, but he was especially pleased to see that my Ford truck was equipped with a 16.5-thousand-pound Warn winch.

Even with that much winch power the question was, could we get him out?

Gary was doubtful that we could get the truck out, but Smith and I were sure we could, providing we could anchor my truck.

The ground was so saturated that when I first tried to winch Smith’s truck out, my truck was just pulled towards him.

We blocked the tires of my truck with rocks and I even drove into ruts to try to anchor my vehicle.

Finally, after over an hour of constant maneuvering, I was able to slowly start pulling his out, inches at a time.

The winch and cable made noises I had never heard before as the full-size truck slowly moved backwards out of the slimy, sticky mud.

I noticed as it was coming backwards, mud would be pushed out of the bottom of the truck, and then would be sucked back in as the truck moved.

The case of the winch was very hot, a testament to how hard it had been working!

After he was free, Smith came back and offered me $100 for our help.

While a generous thing to do, no money would be accepted - nor should it be - in my opinion.

I had the means to help and was glad to do it.

I told him that he needed to wait until Friday to let the roads firm up before trying to leave. Besides he had one more day in the season to hunt.

Then we talked about javelina hunt ing.

I gave him some pointers on where to look and since he had got his ATV running, places he might want to look.

In the end, it all worked out.

On the last day of the season, Smith went to the area I told him to go, and sure enough he glassed up a herd of pigs.

He made a stalk and was able to get to within 30 yards of the herd.

He decided to use his 9mm pistol and made the shot and harvested a big boar.

But his vehicle troubles were not over….

More on that situation in next week’s column.