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Close Call.

THE INDIAN warden drove his pickup into our tent camp, rolled down the window, and delivered an ominous message. "You guys better leave right away. There's a big storm coming, at least two feet of snow. I'm warning all the hunters on the mountain. Good luck."

That was depressing news. Six of us, all roommates in a rented house and attending forestry college at Utah State University, were hoping to return home from the Indian reservation with a stack of deer in the homemade trailer that we had borrowed from the dean of the Natural Resources college. We had taken one skinny doe so far, and it appeared now that she alone would be augmenting many of our meals, which until then had basically consisted of ducks we'd shot at a nearby marsh. We cooked those ducks every way we knew how and were desperate for venison. We couldn't splurge on meat because we spent most of our meager disposable income on girls, ammo, and cheap adult beverages.

It was 1962, and weather forecasts weren't terribly accurate, but we heeded the warden's advice. We packed up; loaded the 1956 four-door Dodge sedan I'd inherited from my grandfather; and headed off the mountain. It had already started to snow, and my car was no match for the mountain roads, even when they were dry. It was slow going, with plenty of vehicles loaded with hunters in front of and behind us. Everybody wanted off the mountain pronto.

We finally arrived at the highway and took a position in a long line of vehicles as far as we could see. Now it was snowing hard, and the driving was stop-and-go. We were a couple dozen miles from Heber City when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a crazy fool attempting to pass a string of vehicles on the two-lane highway. His pickup was about to pass us when an oncoming car came into view. The driver of the pickup suddenly swerved and sideswiped our trailer.

The collision drove my car and trailer off the road and onto the steep shoulder where my car rolled completely over and slammed down on its wheels. It was a sensation I'd never experienced before. At first there was silence in the car, then we determined who was hurt. By some miracle, none of us had suffered a scratch, not even a bump on the head, and seat belts hadn't even been thought of yet. It was a bigger miracle that none of the four doors had popped open, flinging us out of, and possibly under, the rolling car.

By the time we exited the car, shaken and disbelieving the close call that should have been far more serious, several people had slid down the snowy bank to help. The car's trunk had flown open, and all our personal belongings were in the snow. The homemade trailer was totaled. I shuddered when I thought about telling the dean that his trailer was ready for the junkyard. My car was badly damaged and had to be towed to Heber City.

We bummed rides from the tow truck driver and the sheriff who investigated the accident. But we were a long way from campus and were told all the motel rooms in town were taken by hunters.

"I have a place for you guys to stay," the sheriff said with a grin. "And it's warm and free." He pulled into the parking lot of the Heber City jail, and we gratefully entered, noting with approval that he didn't lock any doors. There was one positive aspect of the ill-fated hunt. We managed to salvage the doe and would take it home when other pals drove down to rescue us. It wasn't much venison, but at least we'd have a short break from eating those damned ducks.
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Title Annotation:rearView
Author:Zumbo, Jim
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Date:Nov 1, 2018
Words:639
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