Hook and Bullet Club

by Nick Wognum

Dave “Otto” Merhar and I were bound and determined to knock down a deer during the last weekend of muzzleloader season. First we had to shovel out our trucks after getting stuck in the deep snow.
Otto went first, attempting to turn around at the end of the Cloquet Line. But there were two Forest Service trucks and trailers parked there along with a cable for tying off sled dogs.
He tried to get around them but the deep snow sucked his truck in. Otto is nothing if not persistent and didn’t want to call for help. Finally he sent me a text.
“I’m a retired Army officer, bohunk. So this hard…Help!”
Little did I know I would be in his shoes an hour or so later.
It only took a few minutes to pull Dave’s truck back on to the plowed snow. From there we decided to consolidate into my truck and try our luck on the Fernberg.
Now we were a mobile hunting force. He had the right side of the road and I surveyed the left. Where we really wanted to go was a set of clear cuts where he had spotted deer earlier in the season.
With knee to waist deep snow it was going to be a challenge to drive in there. I think we made it 200 yards.
“I’ll keep an eye on this side,” said Merhar as I tried to back up and keep the tires on the packed area.
That didn’t last long. Boom. We were stuck. I grabbed the shovel and we traded off removing snow from around the tires.
Then it was the tried and true method of rocking back and forth. That actually worked and we were back on track.
Otto hopped back in and we made it to the power line, halfway back to the Fernberg.
Then the right front tire took a dive and I reached for my phone. Time to call for help.
But Otto was stubborn and kept hopping out in the waist deep snow and shoveling. I figured it couldn’t hurt so we cleared the snow again.
But the tires spun. Hop out. Shovel. Hop in. Spin. Rinse, repeat.
I was ready to give up and wait for the tow truck. But there was one last trick to try. For the first time I put the transmission in four low.
It took some rocking back and forth but somehow we got out. There may have been a high five in the truck.
I called and canceled the tow truck so we could continue hunting.
We cruised around various roads, looking for horizontal in a land of vertical. Stories were told including one where Dave Merhar greeted Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as she arrived in Washington, D.C.
Our hunting luck didn’t change until the next day when Otto knocked down a nice doe to put venison in his freezer this winter.
And, we were able to gut, drag and lift the deer into the back of the truck without any injuries.
We didn’t get to sit in the Princess Stand this year but we did get to spend time hunting together. We got stuck, we got out and we got a deer.
Well, Otto got a deer. And he was home in time to watch the Army vs. Navy football game.
As for me, there’s always next year.