Just the other day I posted a story on missing my first Wisconsin deer gun season. Hip surgery just three days prior to the opener would keep me in the hospital or recuperating at home on crutches for two months. A deer hunt with family would have to wait til next fall.
The editor chose the title "Steve Meurett Laments a Lost Deer season" ... which may have been a bit strong for my intention of the piece.
la∑ment [luh-ment] 1.to feel or express sorrow or regret for: to lament his absence. 2.to mourn for or over.
I didnít want to express any kind of feeling sorry for myself, for setbacks and obstacles beyond our control happen in life and we either deal with them and move on or wallow in self pity. Iíd just hoped to convey a different perspective, knowing I had it lucky compared to so many others who enjoy the outdoors.
Within six hours of the piece running, I received this email from a reader.
One downside of being a blogger is most of the time we donít receive feedback, positive or negative. For me, Iím never sure Iím connecting with anyone. This email humbled me, made me sit back and re-read it several times.
I think there is so much we all can learn from Mr. LeHewís words.
Bob, you are a true sportsman. Thank you for your comments.
I've been reading your blogs on Wisconsin Outdoor Fun for a while now. I like your style and read each column first when a new one is listed. Your latest, titled "Steve Meurett Laments a Lost Deer season" really hit home for me.
I was diagnosed with rapid onset Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1984. I was able to work until 1990 when the use of a cane, then crutches, became mandatory. Too early in medical history for transplants I moved from Milwaukee to Crivitz in 1995 so I could live more cheaply on my SSDI checks. At least I'd get to hunt more or so I thought.
I muddled along for a few years, changing my fishing and hunting styles as I went. I gained a handicapped scooter in 1998. That increased my outings but curtailed my bush-whacking. Stuck on shore for fishing and close to roads for hunting started to effect my enjoyment of my life-long love of the outdoors. But I soldiered on, not the type to give up without a fight.
In 2006 the arthritis dealt me my final blow: my C/5 vertebrae collapsed into my C/6 resulting in a pinching off of the blood flow to my spine. I became a C5/6 spinal cord quadriplegic. I was stuck in bed for 18 months, not being able to move anything above shoulder level. I too watched the deer and coyotes and turkey's out in the yard. I watched the bass jumping in our lake during the summer and the geese and ducks coming through during autumn.
Then one morning I lifted my right leg! Just like that my hope was restored. I wouldn't call it a miracle. My neurologist told me if any movement or feeling came back it would happen by the 20th month post injury.
Now five years later I'm up and about. I've had to change almost everything. I can move my arms but my hands tingle all the time. They feel like they're "asleep." I have movement in both legs but little if any feeling. I use a power wheelchair that reclines and raises 10 inches. I can no longer drive so I rely on my wife to take me where I want to go. I survived.
Not without some drastic change though. A once prolific waterfowler, pheasant hunter and squirrel chaser I've had to change my interests. Now I throw everything into turkey, grouse (on National Forest mowed hunter trails) and crossbow deer. I can't gun deer hunt because snow and my chair do not play well together. I fly-fish more now because it's easier to cast a line than a lure. I'm lucky that northeast Wisconsin has so many accessible trout streams. And I'll always have the Great Lakes , although I don't know if I could handle a 30 pound Chinook!
I have replaced my lost abilities by staying involved in the outdoors. I'm chairman of the Marinette county delegation to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. I formed a new NWTF chapter here in Crivitz where I serve as president. With both the WCC and NWTF I work with youth and beginning hunters to help grow the hunting public. As the secretary of the Outdoor Heritage committee I've pushed for law changes to get and keep our youth outside and involved in the outdoors.
My purpose in sending you this email is not to cry in my beer or make you feel pity. It's to help you realize set-backs occur, obstacles can be overcome, and vigilance by watching your health is a must. Either by direct participatation or indirect behind the scenes actions I'm still an outdoorsman.
Thanks for all of the great posts. Keep them coming, I'll keep reading."
sincerely, Bob LeHew, Crivitz
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Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at email@example.com.