By Frank Delph Jr.
-- Maryland's muzzleloader deer season was approaching. I had just purchased a new Thompson/Center .50 caliber muzzleloader and had the tack driver outfitted with a Nikon Omega scope. I was eager to take to the woods. But there was a tragedy waiting for me.
I am a foreman for a tree company, and we tackle a lot of big jobs. Most of the jobs I forget, but this one will stay with me for the rest of my life.
My crew and I were cutting down a big red oak in Bethesda, Md. The job was not a piece of cake. There was a lot of wood to drag and carry out. Big Joe, one of the best climbers I know, started up the oak. Joe readied his ropes to lower pieces of the tree down to me. The fun had begun.
It wasn't long until we started cutting bigger pieces off of the tree. As the wood hit the ground, I cut it into smaller pieces with a chainsaw. I started the chainsaw and went to work on the huge limbs. Then tragedy struck. The chainsaw jumped and cut my leg. At first I did not even realize it. Then I looked down at my jeans and noticed they were cut pretty bad.
I turned around, started to walk and then I felt it. I sat down, pulled my pant leg up and saw the chewed up mess that was my shin. My foot started to go numb. I vaguely remember saying "Take me to the hospital." One of my crew called an ambulance. Some eight hours later, I left the hospital in a wheelchair with 27 stitches in my leg and a severed nerve.
I stayed at home and watched hunting videos while I nursed my leg. I was still in a lot of pain. Eventually, I was able to start walking on my healing leg. I knew that climbing my treestand was out of the question. Then, the muzzleloader season was upon me. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get into the woods.
I got dressed in my camo and headed to my hunting spot. Since my stand was out of the question, I thought I would do a little walking through the edge of a soybean field, with the wind in my face. Taking it nice and easy, I came up to a an area where three fields meet. This was it. I would walk through here and if nothing was in the field, I was done because the darkness was moving in.
When I eased into the field, there he was - the biggest buck I had ever seen and it was eating soy beans with a doe close by. With a lot of pain, I got down on one knee. After what seemed like forever, the buck gave me a broadside shot at 40 yards. The muzzleloader did its job. The big 11-point buck dropped right in its tracks. I stood up and went to have a look at my deer. Even with the pain I was having, I had harvested the biggest buck of my life.
Frank Delph Jr.