The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports Columns

February 12, 2012

Ken Maurer's Outdoors column: Close calls outside

At the end of the Super Bowl, at the moment Rob Gronkowski dove for the Hail Mary tip, I thought for a split second he would come up with it. The “slo-mo” replay showed that he came within a foot or so of possibly the hairiest finish to another great game. A close call, indeed.

In the outdoors, we have some close calls, too. How many times have you left your deer stand after hours of seeing nothing, only to find out later a big buck walked right through there. When there is snow, you can really see what happens when you take a break. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found deer tracks in his boot prints when returning to a stand that shouldn’t have been abandoned. Sometimes I think they are patiently waiting and watching, passing through after they watch you walk away.

One day, I was turkey hunting and had just settled in against a nice big tree overlooking a creek bottom. I was pulling a call from my vest when I heard something coming at high speed. I leaned forward a bit to look around the tree, and what to my wondering eye should appear but three deer, charging hard right for my face. I swear the lead deer left some hair on the tree bark when she went by. If I had a diaphragm call in my mouth, I know I would have swallowed it. Close call.

Most grouse I’ve shot at probably flew away thinking, “Hah, that wasn’t even a close call.” Once in a while, on that rare occasion when one does fall at the shot, you usually don’t have to worry about picking too many BBs out of the meat.

Fishing has its share of close calls, too. I know a guy who took his buddy’s hat off with his back cast. I’m sure some unkind comments ensued concerning the man’s lineage and intelligence level. I once hooked my brother in the ear with a Rapala with three sets of treble hooks(I was pretty young then). It was a close call that none of the hooks went in past the barb. It was also a close call that he didn’t kill me, I’m sure.

Then there was the time we were way over our limit of walleyes and the fish wardens came by. Just kidding. JUST KIDDING!

If you knew how few walleyes I’ve caught lately, you’d know just how funny that really is.

Jet boats and close calls are like ice cream and cake. On a good low summer flow, any jet boater worth his salt will have a close call or two every time out. After a close call, you coolly shrug and say yeah, this boat runs shallow. (You say that after you remember to exhale and unclasp your buttocks from the boat seat.)

Close calls make life exciting.

Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the Outdoor Section. Email comments to

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