Bowhunter Down

A Rescue in the Wilderness

Story and Photos by Carmen Magart

In the mountains of central Idaho due east of McCall, the mild September day made shirtsleeves comfortable even at an elevation of six thousand feet. Quaking aspens fluttered in the breeze and crimson huckleberry bushes splashed tawny ridges. The autumn colors melded together as if in a Monet painting. Fragrant fir and lanky lodgepole pine dotted open hillsides and shaded the trails and forest floors. Most of the plentiful, clear rocky streams still ran at least at a trickle, easily stepped over without getting a boot damp. In the mountains and meadows teeming with life, colorful collections of birds flittered and squabbled overhead, and chipmunks scolded and scampered about. The larger animals rested in the shade of the underbrush, stamping at flies and switching tails, waiting for the cool of the evening to graze. It was a magnificent day to be alive, and a splendid place to spend even one day of that life. Or so the bowhunter thought.

Clad in camo head to toe, he blended in as he stalked a bull elk all afternoon. Intent on taking it with his bow and excited by the prey’s proximity, the hunter allowed only a moment of heedlessness, but it proved to be his undoing. With one misstep on a log, he lurched forward, lodging his right leg between two downed timbers and instantly snapping both bones in his lower leg. He heard them break and felt his knee tear at the site of an old football injury. At 260 pounds, yet fit and strong for his fifty years, John Sain’s body crumpled as waves of pain, nausea, and delirium washed over him. In moments of lucidity, he knew how bad the situation was. He knew instinctively this could be the end of his life.

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Carmen Magart

About Carmen Magart

Carmen Carlson Magart left the sheep ranch on Salmon River at age forty to pursue an MA in education. She taught literacy at Boise State University and art and English in public schools. Carmen recently published a short series of memoir-based volumes titled Celebration of a Country Life (available from Amazon). She has resided on an Owyhee County cattle ranch with her husband Paul since 2003.

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