Saturday, September 30, 2006

Getting his goat against the odds

A couple of weeks or so ago I learned about a hunter who'd collapsed while hunting in mountains not terribly far from here (by Oregon reckoning, which measures distance in hours instead of miles). The man had altitude sickness, and had to be eased off the mountain and rushed to the hospital. Altitude sickness isn't something you hear about very much around here. But, then, most of our towns are somewhere near 3,000 feet, give or take, and mountain passes generally don't run much above 5,000, if that. But this guy was hunting up at 8,000, and he lives not much above sea level, and it floored him. Worse yet, he was goat hunting. Almost no one is given a goat tag, and those lucky guys who do get one are never allowed to have another one. You either get your goat, or you give up your dream of getting a goat. The last I'd heard, he was determined to get back before the tag expired and hunt some more. I don't quite know if this constitutes grit or craziness, but then I'm not a hunter.

I told my husband about this. He came back to me later to report that the little radio station from Ketchikan, Alaska, that he sometimes listens to online had picked up on the story, and the deejays were having a heyday with it. "Did you hear that a guy got altitude sickness in Oregon? Oregon! They have mountains in Oregon?" That sort of thing, with much laughter. (And, yes, thank you, we have mountains in Oregon. Also deserts. Also the deepest river gorge in North America, which you can't have if you don't have a highish place to go down from. It's a rather misunderstood state, geographically speaking.)

But, anyway, we'd heard about this guy, and his pledge to come back and hunt, so I checked the Baker paper to see if there was a follow-up story. There is. Thank you, reporter Jayson Jacoby.

Oh, my. The guy came back. And the misadventures continued - including, believe it or not, his truck breaking down half a block from our house. I didn't know this. The small town grapevine is vastly overrated. Gary Martin, a hunter who is being talked about from here to Alaska and I don't know where else, comes back to Central/Eastern Oregon after getting out of the hospital - he's sneering at death to get his goat, he's... he's... he's right in the middle of his proverbial fifteen minutes of fame and he has to be rescued within sight of my house, and I have to read about it in an out-of-county newspaper? Like I said, the grapevine around here sometimes is vastly overrated. (Alicia, we need to talk, girl. I'm sure Paul must have known, and he should have told you, and you could have told David, who would have told me... ;)

Anyway, congratulations on getting your goat, Mr. Martin, and I hope your health improves. I hope you don't mind me spreading your story about. Town's full of hunters right now, and these guys seem to like to hear about a hunter having crazy luck, both good and bad. Maybe especially the bad luck. Go figure.

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