Monday, March 6, 2006

This Happened to Me! From the readers of Outdoor Life Magazine

By Christina VanGinkel

The cover of this book portrays a few sketched pictures. One showing a man who comes face to face with a cougar in a cave, another of a man as he plunges down a deep well while out bird hunting, and another of a man in a small fishing boat, fighting a huge Musky as it tries to steal his stringer of fish he just landed. These are just a sampling of what lies inside the pages of this interestingly put together book.

I must admit that this paperback book was an impulse buy, a few years ago when my husband was laid up after an accident that left him immobile for close to seven months of his life. An ironwood tree that had been uprooted by a tornado that went through our area a few days before, but that was still standing, toppled over as my husband stood with his back to the fateful tree. Bad luck if there ever were such a thing. The force of the tree, which landed on his head (he had on a hard hat, thankfully) traveled through his body and literally exploded his right leg. What followed was a lengthy recovery, for a man that does not normally sit still for two minutes at a time. In the end, he took the pain and inconveniences quite well, but finding books and such to occupy his long days, was always a task at the top of my list.

As such, I was constantly on the prowl, for subjects to occupy his time, to fill his days. Anything to keep his mind off his long recovery and initially off the tremendous amount of pain, he was in. This book looked promising, and I was right. Written in a format reminiscent of comic books, or often referred to as Picture Stories, the book is actually a conglomeration of Outdoor Life's magazine own column dedicated to real life, but amazing happenings.

A sampling of the stories portrayed in the short text and comic book styled picture layouts included how one man foolishly jumped from his canoe onto the back of a moose, only to land in the water when the moose had his fill of the man on his back. Another story shows how one young mother deals with a rattlesnake that her toddler is approaching. First, she lassoes it, and then finishes it off with an ax! One more ax story tells the tale of a guide up in Alaska, reading firewood for his clients while they had strolled away for a nature hike. Thinking he was listening to them approaching camp on their return, he was instead looking at a grizzly as it waited to attack. With nothing but an ax in his hands, he saves his self, and has a dead grizzly as proof of the narrow escape, taken down with one swell swing between the eyes.

There are tales of bears breaking into cabins, intruding on honeymoons (bear that is!), runaway icebergs, wild dogs, killer dogs, and cars breaking through ice. There are outboard motors gone awry, elephants that have obviously had better days, bucks that decide to take out the person before the person takes him, rut crazed bucks, bobcat attacks, gator chases, and giant octopuses. There is such a wide range of stories that the reader is sure to be kept occupied for hours, as they read, and reread this fascinating book.

There is such a range of stories too, including wildlife such as bear and elk, and fish stories aplenty. Stories that originated from human error, and those that defy explanation beyond the fact that the wildlife has decided to make a stand and attack. What is so fascinating about each and every story within the pages of this book is that the reader truly has the sense that each and any one of them could have happened to them, if they had just been in the same place as the people in the stories. My husband actually commented that his own tale of how he ended up with his shattered leg, was not to far off from fitting in the pages of the book. We could title it 'The Tree that Attacked!

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