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It's not all fun and games in the outdoors

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ime spent outdoors leaves a person refreshed and full of appreciation for nature, usually.

There are those rare occasions that leave a person wondering why they are not home, in front of the fire, watching football rather than "enjoying" the great outdoors. Watching football is a perfectly macho guy thing to do. For some reason, that has just never been enough for me.

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Last week had blessed us with about 18 inches of fresh, powdered snow. Saturday, I planned to take the tractor, pick up a big round bale of hay and with the added traction, be able to drive around to find the major deer trails. The plan was to mark these trails so my wife and I could find the antlers shed by the bucks as soon as the snow melted. When I got done, I would feed the bale to the cows and we would all be happy. It was a good sound plan.

When I drove to the north gate, I knew I was going to be in for a hike. The tractor was about a quarter of a mile down the hill near the cabin and the snow was too deep for my truck, even with four-wheel drive. This was not a problem. A short hike on a brisk morning would get the blood circulating.

In places, the wind had drifted the fluffy, white snow in to packed drifts four-feet deep. These were not the drifts that were hard enough to support a person's weight when they walked over the top, but firm enough to make each step difficult as they fell through the crust. I did mark one trail as I plowed downhill.

Naturally, the tractor would not start. It behaves this way on rare occasions and only at the most inopportune times, such as when it is a quarter-mile away from the truck. Slowly I plodded back up the hill, giving me ample time to plot my next move.

I drove over to my father's place, just a short distance away, to borrow his tractor. His tractor is a bit smaller than mine and has no cab. A short distance in a warm truck becomes a long distance on a slow-moving, open tractor. It took only minutes to get his tractor stuck in a snow drift next to the bales of hay.

My truck was now about a mile away at my father's place, and I was standing approximately in the middle of nowhere. My father, only a cell call away, was still home and came to my rescue with my truck.

The next plan was to call O.B., the next neighbor down the road, to come pull out the stuck tractor with his tractor. O.B. is a surprisingly good sport about pulling me out of places I should not be. A person would think he would check caller ID and not answer his phone when I call, but he is always willing to help.

He showed up with enough chain to keep him from getting stuck, but was unable to budge the tractor buried in the snow. A friend of mine, Donnie, had his bulldozer parked in my pasture for an upcoming project. I thought about jumping on it and solving the problem. Having never driven a dozer before, calling Donnie to get us out seemed a better solution. Fortunately, he was home and would be more than happy to come out into the cold and pull a tractor out of a snow drift. He sounded sincere when he said it, but I am sure he was not.

A bulldozer is a remarkable machine, especially when run by someone that knows what they are doing. He rescued the stuck tractor and made a road to mine in a matter of minutes. I am sure I could have removed several sections of fence and destroyed at least one tractor in the same amount of time.

The cows got fed but more deer trails did not get marked. Sunday I decided to stay home, lounge in front of the fire and watch football. I can be the outdoors guy next week when I have warmed up.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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