I Break My Leg Again

Something or someone does not want me to deer hunt. I had a great deer hunt planned with my late friend Jay in 2005 and after all the preparations, equipment purchases and rifle practice, I broke my leg. I was remarried in 2006 and was too distracted by marital bliss to be interested in hunting anything. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 I was fixated on upland bird hunting.

In 2010 I decided to try again. New Jersey is a shotgun only state. I took my Remington 1187 apart and cleaned it. It jammed on my first attempt to shoot it. I took it to the gunsmith for a strip & clean. Why are all gunsmiths in a bad mood? They always have the air of someone who has been driven by brute force from the Garden of Earthly Delights and forced to repair guns. Or they are morose, as if they have just discovered in their middle years, that there is no Santa Claus.

New equipment was now needed. I promised my wife not to buy more guns, but I said nothing about barrels. A French company called Hastings makes an elegant rifled slug barrel for the Remington. I bought one. A new, 2 person ground blind seemed essential in case Alice wanted to come. I bought one. Then there was stuff to mask the scent of clothes, stuff to treat the clothes to keep off insects, doe in estrus scent, fox urine, a call that imitates a grunting buck, camo tape for the gun barrel, a box of rifled slugs and some new boots.

The night before the opening of firearm deer season, I slipped in the bathroom and broke my leg. I am now laid up until well into trout season with a “tib/fib” fracture, repaired in my old neighborhood at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC with a contraption called and external fixator. My wife had to go into the woods and retrieve my ground blind. Oh ignominious fate!

During the tackle frenzy season of mid-winter I bought Wheatley fly boxes, a new reel, another vest and some new waders. I am a member of cane rods anonymous – always in danger of falling off the wagon. But if the right rod comes along and falls into my hands? A fast action 7 ft, 4 wt bamboo magic wand?

My external fixator contraption comes off with minor surgery on April 1st and on the 14th I return to the Upper Beaverkill for a getaway with my brother-in-law. The bad news is that after the operation my recalcitrant leg will be in a cast and I will be forbidden to fish. It will be like someone with a sex addiction going to live in a bawdy house. I would stay at the Beaverkill Valley Inn for all of April, May and June every year if I could afford it. Only by fishing every day, can you seize those magic hours when the stream lets you into all her secrets and the fish come out one by one like falling stars. This year, trout season is shot to hell and I have sworn off deer for the nonce. Yet I have hope that next year, armed with even more glorious new tackle, that graceful presentations to an audience of tremendous trout will await my spring.

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From my memoir the War Canoe
David Bershtein