Lost in the Ozark Forest
Another Hunting story; For those reading this post, I teach Hunter Safety and also I am a Army Veteran. One of the programs I pay very strict attention to in both the Army and the Civilian life is the Survival training.
Why? Because I am always getting lost.
It was back in Missouri, the scene of many of my crimes. I was deer hunting (rifle season this time) and found nothing on my brother-in-laws farm so decided to hop the fence and start hunting in the Ozark National forest. I had been in this area only a few times but was confident I couldn't get lost.
I was walking along and saw a rather strange tree. It was shaped like the letter Y and looked for all the world like a sling shot. Looking at it and thinking 'what a sling shot that would make heh heh,' I walked on and about an hour or so later I came around a hill and there was a tree that looked like a sling shot.
Holy Moly I thought.
The place is full of those sling shot tees. But just because I had a hunch, I went up to the tree and taking out my hunting knife I cut on the bark a big X, and then continued hunting. Two hours later I was really pooped and had decided to go home when I came around this hill and there was a third slingshot tree! I went up to it and checked and sure enough there was my X knife cut. I had a real bad feeling I was going around in circles.
So drawing on my extensive Army survival training I came up with a plan. In the Missouri Ozarks the roads are almost always on the ridges and hills, because the valleys are full of rivers and flooding 'cricks'. So my plan was to only go up hill and eventually I would come to a road and then I would be saved.
Trudging up a hill I saw some boards on a tree. Ah Ha! boards meant civilization and I am saved! I went up to the tree and looked around thinking to find a barn or path or house.
Taking a closer look at the boards I discovered a telephone mounted on the boards. A plain old black wall type telephone. "Well," I thought, "this is a National Forest so this must be a Forest Ranger phone. I will pick it up and Ranger Rick will answer and he will tell me how to get home." So I picked up the phone.
No Ranger Rick. Just a dial tone.
Now I do not know about the rest of you guys but I rarely use the phone and I don't keep a long list of telephone numbers memorized and stored in deep reaches of my brain. So the 1st of 2 telephone numbers I remember was my own. So I called home. And Linda answered.
"Hi Honey, this is Sarge, I might be a little late getting home cause I am lost in the woods." I explained.
"You see I got lost but I found this phone out here in the woods so I thought I would call you and tell you that I was lost and would be late finding my way out of the woods."
"My brother talked you into stopping at a bar, didn't he?" she replied.
"No, Honey, honest, I am some where in the Ozark National forest and I am lost but I found this phone and................. click.
She hung up on me.
So drawing from my vast unused but with good potential, memory I drug up the other phone number that I had memorized. I dialed operator.
And she answered "Operator, may I help you?"
"Yes operator, I'm a hunter, see, and I am lost in the Ozark National Forest, and if you could look up and tell me where this phone is then I would know where I am and then I would not be lost." I replied. Long silence....
"I beg your pardon?" she answered.
"Lady do you know where this phone is?" I asked again.
"No!" she answered.
"Then how come you answered it!" I hollered! and she hung up.....
Well things were getting real serious. I had just bolo'd out on all the phone numbers I knew and... Wait a minute, maybe there is a phone book around here. I looked and looked and nothing. No phone book! Darn I figured if I could find a phone book then I would call up a Pizza place and order a pizza delivered and then ride back with the Pizza guy.
So what to do? Think Think, telephone telephone, telephone cord? Cord??? That is IT!! This thing must be connected to something. I looked around behind the boards and sure enough, there was the wire. It went up into the tree branches and up and up and then it jumped to another tree.
A quarter a mile later it came out on a highway. Happy? I guess you know I was. I was saved!! I was not lost anymore! But I still didn't know where the heck I was. So I used my survival skills again. From my pocket I pulled a direction finding device. Flipping it into the air it came down heads, so I went down the road to the left. And I walked and walked and finally about sundown I found the Lake of the Ozarks. Which meant that I was now 17 miles from my brother-in-laws farm. If I had gone to the right I would have been home by now. RATS Nothing but to do but turn around and start walking north. About 11:30 pm that night I finally came trudging up the farm lane, and.... found the drive way full of police cars, trucks with horse trailers behind them, a whole gang of rescuers. My brother-in-law came running up to me. Your safe, your OK, you're not lost. (he was worried about some money I owed him I am sure)
"Yes," I replied "And if you weren't so cheap and had a telephone put in I could have called you from out in the woods!" He just stared at me and motioned a EMT paramedic to come over quickly.
Sounds like a happy ending but there is more. The next day I talked my nephew and my buddy that was hunting with us, into going with me to find the telephone. (nobody else believed me but these two) (dumb)So we drove the road for hours until I found where the telephone lines came out to the pole. Then we back tracked them and sure enough, there was my telephone on the tree. HA HA. We took pictures, of me holding the phone to my ear and then of everyone on the phone. Lots of pictures. I show them unbelievers!!
I could hardly wait to get back. I told everyone about my telephone, My wife still looked questioning and everyone at work laughed and made a funny sign with their finger in a circle on the side of their head. Three days later I went by the store and no pictures. They had lost my pictures! A week later, still no pictures. By now no one would set with me in the company cafeteria. My wife was crying every night and no one seem to believe me no matter what I said. Finally three weeks later I got a call and they had found my pictures.
I showed them to everyone. Even people on the streets that I walked by. Vindicated! Actually most of my best friends believed me and would comment, "Only Sarge could find a phone in the middle of a forest" or some sort of friendly, jokeingly, smart alec statement. (you will have to remember that this happened before there was such a thing as a cell phone.) But that was just one of the many times I got lost, I will tell you some more some time. The end.
Sarge the lost in the woods guy