Part 2 of Walking Wounded

We were miles back in the Arizona wilderness and our guest and friend, Tommy Walker, had been hit with a blast from a shotgun! Part 2 Of “Walking wounded” follows.

Scrambling up the thirty yards I saw him down on his knees, holding his eyes. Oh no, not his eyes, I thought! Jake came racing up, “What happened to Tommy” he exclaimed? “Looks like he got some shot in his eyes,” I answered. Tommy said, “I heard you and Jake say a few words and I got curious and walked to the edge of the canyon. I looked down just as Jake shot, and I think I’ve got some bird shot in one of my eyes!”

I checked his pulse, it was normal, his skin felt normal, one eye definitely had one or more shot in it, the other was normal. No apparent signs of shock, for now. We had him lie down and elevated his feet, while we figured out what to do. Our problem was how to get him the two plus miles back to the truck?

We figured if we bandaged his eye we could lead him out OK. The only problem, we didn’t have any bandages, some were in the first aid kit in the truck, but none with us, so we improvised. We took the back of my tee shirt and Jake’s clean hankie, tied them together, and oops, to cover his injured eye, we had to cover his good eye too. We didn’t have any tape with us. It was back in the truck, too. Covering both eyes, we tied the “bandage” off on the back oh his head.

We started back to the truck and it was hard to guide Tommy. Jake and I took turns, one carrying all three shotguns, the other guiding Tommy by having him lean on and put an arm around our neck. Our main worry was shock, but he told of being wounded in WW II and didn’t feel like he was anywhere near it.

The dogs, bless their hearts, hunted all the way back. With both eyes bandaged Tommy couldn’t see, but he could hear us talking. “Hey, Jake look, point up there.” “Beech, here’s a point.” Whirrrrrrr! A quail took to a hurried flight. as Tommy said, “Guys, set me down here and you all hunt these birds. You can come back and get me.” “Not a chance, Tommy,” we both echoed.
Tommy was a load, weighing about two hundred pounds, and carrying the shotguns for two miles sounds easy, but remember there are no handles, or slings, on them and no easy way to carry three guns at once for any distance. Our two-mile jaunt took almost two hours, but our first goal, the truck and the four wheel drive road, was reached.

We still had four, hard, four wheel drive miles, at least two hours, to cover before we got to the dirt road. Jake drove and I sat with Tommy in the back of the SUV. The dogs were packed into two kennels behind the second seat. We were all tired and as we bumped the four miles to the dirt road, Tommy’s eye was beginning to throb. Our second goal was reached. It had been over four hours since the accident, but we could make this eight-mile leg in about thirty minutes.

The sun was setting as we reached the hard top road to Payson and it had been almost five hours since the accident. Jake and I knew there was a small hospital in Payson, twenty-five miles ahead so we hurried on into town.

No cell phones then, so we stopped at the first convenience store we came across in Payson and called the hospital, alerting them of the accident and getting directions. We found the emergency room and checked Tommy in. There was a short wait for the local eye specialist. An hour later the doctor came out and told us that he had removed the shot from Tommy’s eye, but he was concerned that the vitreous fluid could leak out, causing Tommy to loose his vision in that eye.

The doctor would end up keeping Tommy in the hospital for a week. His eye healed and he returned to shooting and hunting almost as soon as he got back home. I hunted and shot skeet with Tommy for the next ten years and all of us started wearing shooting glasses!