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Old 02-24-2018, 10:54 PM   #1
RickBarbee
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Default A Story About Lightning & Tree Stands

I may have posted this in the past. If so I apologize in advance for any inconvenience is may cause.

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Anyone who knows me knows, I'm kind of like old Joe Blitzfit from the old Sunday morning newspaper "Little Abner" comic strips. If there's a way for it to happen to me, it's likely gonna happen. Within reason of course.

I'm an old powerline builder, and pole climber from way back, so I'm no stranger to lightning, but I digress. Back to the tree stand.

The day before this particular adventure, I had installed my "homemade" Dominator lockon tree stand in a tree 21" up, and on a spot in an oak mot heavily laden with acorn drop, lot's of deer traffic, and where I had watched a very nice buck working in & out of on several occasions the weekend prior.

For later reference, keep in mind this stand is a folding design with only an 18" platform, and a 10" padded seat. Not designed for comfort at all. More for run & gun hunting for quick setup, and a bare minimum of comfort & safety in mind.

On that fateful day I was seeing a lot of deer. Many already within range throughout the day, but I was after that one particular buck, so I had held my "desire to shoot" in check.

I am usually quite aware of any thunderstorms, that may be rolling into my hunting area, especially if I am up a tree. This particular day was no different. I saw the storm coming late that afternoon, but as it neared it appeared it was going to pass by me to the north, so I stayed, and it did.

As luck would have it, my buck showed himself before coming into range. I prefer that, because it allows me to track his movement up to the time the shot presents itself, and I can be much more prepared to take it.

Once that buck showed, my focus/awareness was entirely on him. The thunder storm had passed, and nothing else was on my mind, except being ready for that shot when it came, AND it WAS coming.

There he was. 60 yards, 50 yards, then 40, but still not quite close enough, or in the open.

I was calm, and still had my bow laying "arrows down" across my lap. One arrow nocked up & ready, the other seven in a row in the bow quiver across my thighs.

THEN a FLASH !!!!!!!!! That dang storm had backed up, and put a "sneak" on me from behind.

All I remember is watching that buck, waiting for him to step in closer & open, and that BLINDING Flash.

When I came to, it was a long slow process to finally regain my wits about me. I wasn't aware of what had happened, or even where I was for what seemed a very long time to me.

Probably no more than seconds, or maybe a minute or two, but it seemed like an eternity before I was focused again.

I really have no idea how long I was unconscious, but there was lots of "sun up" daylight just before it happened, but the sun was "completely down" when I came to.

I knew something bad had happened to me, and I knew not to move until I had gathered full consciousness, and awareness of my surroundings, so I just sat there, but slumped over onto my bow.

As I regained my senses I realized I was looking straight down at the ground, but from what seemed a long way up.

As the feeling returned to my arms & legs, I slowly started setting up, and it was then (and only then) I realized/remembered where I was, what I was doing, with some realization of what just happened .

I'm not going to lie about it, there was a mild amount of "PANIC" set in on me for a bit, but I quickly got it under control, and proceeded going about the task/tasks at hand.

No safety harness by the way. I was to young, dumb, and macho to need such things. My bow, and that quiver full of arrows were "ALL" that kept me from rolling head long into a nose dive to the ground 21ft below. I still thank God to this day, that I did not yet feel the need to have the bow up & shot ready.

OK, so it's safe to say I was feeling a little stupid about that time, but I still decided to do a check of the stability of the lockon, and it's attachment to the tree before I started trying to get myself down.

It was then I realized, that the top 20ft of that tree from just about 5 foot above where my head would have been "WAS GONE". Not splintered . Not Split. GONE, except not really. It was laying scattered on the ground all around me in about 50 million pieces, and with it out of the way I could really see that storm baring down on me fast & furious, and starting to rain in sheets, instead of drops.

My arms, and legs were operating, but in a fashion more like wet weak noodles, than the firm & strong limbs my 35 year old body was accustom to, but I did manage to get me & my gear safely (although not quite so firmly) on the ground.

My feet no sooner hit the ground before bolts of lightning were hitting all around me. No sound, except a crackling, buzzing zap similar to the sound of live shorted wires. That's the only way I can describe it. Just a low yet menacing sound, that may have been as much or more inside my head than out.

It was as if ZEUS himself was using me for target practice.

Remember that panic I was in control of? Yeah, that control is GONE !!!!!! I'm in full blown panic mode now, and running for the truck as fast as I could.

My running with those wobbly legs can only be best described as (if you would imagine watching) a drunk with his pants down while trying to push a rope across smooth ice, with a 15# sledge hammer tied to the far end of it. I was running, slipping, sliding, and slithering. Maybe a snake would have been proud of the scene, but I sure as heck wasn't.

BUT, I made it the 1/2 mile slither/slip/slide to the gate !

Oh My God! The Gate !!! That wire gap gate from HELL, that would make even Superman grunt & groan to open & close it.

I did not want to touch that fence !!! Remember the lightning? Yeah, that's still goin on as much as ever.

I'm thinking - No way I'm climbing over with these legs. I'll get hung up, and they'll find me tomorrow strung out & slow roasted like a fat pig at a BBQ.

Can I open that gate? I can barely lift my arms, much less flex the muscles to use them.

I stood there for a split second, and realized, it's either risk the gate & electrocution, or give old ZEUS a standing still target.

Ta heck with you ZEUS, I'm outa here !!! Another close strike, and the excitement/adrenaline rush found me the strength to both open & CLOSE the darn thing. Didn't dawn on me I had closed it, until I saw it after getting into the truck.

I got through without even a little tingle, got to the truck, and got me & my gear safely inside.

I think I sat there for at least 30 minutes (shaking like a dog pooping a peach seed) before deciding I was collected enough to make the 50 mile drive home.

Home Sweet Home.

At least that's how I felt until I got inside, sat down, settled down some, and shared the story with my wife & kids. They laughed at me, and much of their laughter was in disbelief, and sarcasm. To say I was a little crushed by their reaction wouldn't be far off base, because I was still feeling fairly traumatized by the event.

Yeah, they all laughed, and I snuck away to the bedroom in humiliation, and changed into some shorts, and a tee-shirt.

Yeah, they all laughed, until I sat back down at the couch, and my wife said "What Happened To Your Legs?!!?"

I hadn't noticed. I looked down, and there they were. The prettiest, straightest, perfectly matched, and lined up burn imprints on each leg of seven 2413 aluminum arrow shafts you ever saw. They had super heated during the lightning strike, and burned the snot out of my legs. I'm guessing, but that's the only explanation I can think of.

Between those burn marks, the singed hair on my arms, and the singed hair on my head (mixed with melted plastic from the cap I was wearing), and they sorta/kinda started believing me a little.

Whats the moral of this story? There isn't one. Well, except maybe - "Don't Be A Dumbass."

Rick

Last edited by RickBarbee; 02-24-2018 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 02-24-2018, 11:06 PM   #2
Blank
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Took my aluminum jet boat up the river one day and the fishing was amazing. So good that when it got stormy and clouded up, I disregarded it and kept on fishing. The huge black clouds looked at least 5 miles away, and I thought I was safe. Using a 9' graphite fly rod and didn't even consider that it was probably a lightning rod. When I noticed that the hair was standing straight up on my arms the truth finally sank in. I put down the rod, jumped out onto the bank and headed for some trees for cover. Within seconds my boat took almost a direct hit from lightning and scared the crap out of me. Ended up waiting a half hour for it to pass and then hauled azz down the river to the boat dock and into the truck. WOW, that was something I don't want to try again!!!
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Old 02-24-2018, 11:10 PM   #3
tex4k
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Super scary for sure, but your truck isn't that much better off, that's where I was when I heard the sizzle/boom and saw the flash, I was ok but my truck drove about like your legs, just wouldn't do it, so I had to ride in the melted electrical wire stinking truck back to our yard, all the guys laughed too, until I showed them what was left of the Antanae to the cell phone booster. I sure wouldn't want go through your experience outside of the truck though.
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Old 02-24-2018, 11:32 PM   #4
DRT
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I was sitting on a home made steel tripod on a ranch in Llano county my first real archery season. I had killed my first deer with a bow the week before and was excited for there were deer every where. However soon after getting in the stand a thunderstorm blew in. I had some very close calls with lightning in the past and was taking no chances. So I climbed down and as the wind and rain swept in I was headed to where my buddy had agreed to meet after the hunt. The sky was dark, the wind whipping sand in the air and the lightening flashes and thunder claps filled the air. Then the rain hit in sheets so hard the drops stung my face. Suddenly my hairs stood on end, that tingle started and the flash and boom were simultaneous. It stumbled me but I took off running up the two track as fast as I could run. After the first hundred yards I asked myself why I was running. I knew I couldn't out run the lightening. Another hundred yards of running and I was at the truck and inside. My buddy said he saw the strike less than 30 yards to my right. Still laughs at me now and then about how fast I took off running towards the truck.

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Old 02-24-2018, 11:34 PM   #5
merlin
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You got lucky. I will hunt in light rain, but I'm sleeping in when there's a good chance of storms.
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Old 02-25-2018, 04:51 AM   #6
twillgo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merlin View Post
You got lucky. I will hunt in light rain, but I'm sleeping in when there's a good chance of storms.
Great stories all and lots of luck there. I've been caught out on the Laguna Madre before when the lightning was making our CB buzz like crazy. Vehicles are safe as they form a faraday cage. Standing in/among trees is not!

If you are caught in a storm with no shelter, it is best to squat in the open with both feet together and pray a bit.

Lightning does indeed strike twice, and starts from the ground as leaders extend toward the clouds off of high points in the area, like the top of your head! That is what makes your hair stand up. Squat quickly if you feel this. Hopefully, something higher than you makes contact first.

A park ranger in Colorado has been struck 12 times and has lived to tell his tales!

Todd
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Old 02-25-2018, 06:00 AM   #7
Mertzon Man
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Great story, lesson well learned.
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Old 02-25-2018, 06:39 AM   #8
tminc
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thx for the great lesson,glad your ok,do u have ptsd when it rains?
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Old 02-25-2018, 07:07 AM   #9
DRT
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Rick did you ever get that buck?

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Old 02-25-2018, 09:58 PM   #10
Bisch
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I always knew you had gotten knocked silly at some point in your life!!!!

Bisch


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Old 02-25-2018, 10:23 PM   #11
RickBarbee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRT View Post
Rick did you ever get that buck?
Never saw him again. Think maybe ZEUS got him. Did get another in that spot (different tree) a couple weeks later, but not as big as the other guy was.

Quote:
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I always knew you had gotten knocked silly at some point in your life!!!!

Bisch
Least it took some knocks to get me there.

Rick
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Old 02-25-2018, 10:40 PM   #12
Mexico
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Wow what a story!! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 02-25-2018, 10:49 PM   #13
Dry Bones
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That's really crazy. Hard to believe but doubt anyone could make up something like that. You could have been grilled right there in the stand. I like to hunting most weather but when lightning gets wild, I'm out. Been in a few of those moments when like you said all you hear is the zippping and cracking. It's enough to create the panic mode in full order.
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Old 02-25-2018, 10:54 PM   #14
Gonzo
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I would of stayed off the trees for a long time. Scary stuff


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Old 02-26-2018, 09:12 AM   #15
tradtiger
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Amazing survival tale, Rick! To me, it is especially remarkable that you remained safely seated up in that tree through the bolt impact and then unconscious state. To me, the main reason to wear a harness in a tree stand is to prevent falling if you doze off.
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:24 AM   #16
RickBarbee
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tradtiger View Post
Amazing survival tale, Rick! To me, it is especially remarkable that you remained safely seated up in that tree through the bolt impact and then unconscious state. To me, the main reason to wear a harness in a tree stand is to prevent falling if you doze off.
Had it not been for the bow in my lap to stop my roll, I would have been head first on the ground no doubt.

I don't really believe in luck. God had other plans for me I guess.

Rick
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:28 AM   #17
tradtiger
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You recall which bow you were using, if it was ruined, what became of it?
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Old 02-26-2018, 09:43 AM   #18
RickBarbee
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Quote:
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You recall which bow you were using, if it was ruined, what became of it?
98# / 68" / Martin Firecat recurve

Still have it, and never have had any problem with it before or after.

I actually have those limbs on a short riser right now, trying to get to over 100# with it for some penetration (Blue Wildabarrel) testing. Finding time is my enemy, but I'll get there.

Rick
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:07 AM   #19
Drycreek3189
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Rick, as you know, you're lucky to be alive. Been through one tornado, almost hit by lightning twice, and I just don't chance it anymore. As merlin said (is he kin to Zeus?), light rain is fine, thunderstorms, not a chance !

One of my best friends and a friend of his were killed by lightning on Fork back in the nineties. That made me rethink some things !
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Old 02-26-2018, 10:17 AM   #20
tradtiger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBarbee View Post
98# / 68" / Martin Firecat recurve

Still have it, and never have had any problem with it before or after.

I actually have those limbs on a short riser right now, trying to get to over 100# with it for some penetration (Blue Wildabarrel) testing. Finding time is my enemy, but I'll get there.

Rick
Wow! A FIRECAT survives a lightning strike! Can't make this stuff up!
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