Days GON By – January 2016
Hunter rescued from 35 feet up a tree at Pine Long WMA.
Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, both 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s a look back at what appeared in GON.
20 Years Ago: January 1996
Hunter Rescued from Pine Log Mountain WMA: Gene Long, of Ellijay, was hunting Pine Log Mountain WMA on Nov. 30, 1995. At dark, he climbed down and went back to camp, where his wife, Allison, was waiting. A few minutes later they heard someone yelling in the distance, so they grabbed flashlights and headed toward the sound.
The hunter hollering for help was James Head, of Rockmart. James had been hunting 35 feet up in climbing stand. After not seeing anything that evening, James, who was wearing a safety belt, lowered his rifle on a rope and started his descent down the tree.
The foot portion of his climber slipped, and James fell 3 or 4 feet before the safety belt caught him. On his way down, he hit the tree, and his collarbone snapped.
“I felt a great pain shooting up through my neck and shoulder,” said James.
The 1995 season was the first season James had ever used a safety belt. James’ 13-year-old son, Eric, had just started hunting, and James had insisted that his son use a safety strap.
“I had been preaching to him about using a safety belt, so I couldn’t very well not use one myself,” said James.
At 6:10 p.m., Gene and Allison showed up to help James. After assessing the situation, Allison returned to the campground and gathered four hunters, a climbing stand and some screw-in steps.
One of the hunters, Scott McClure, used his climbing stand to secure the lower part of James’ stand to a point where James could then stand. Then, Gene used screw-in steps to climb above James, loosen the safety strap and then help James get down the tree. Once on the ground, James received medical attention for his broken collarbone.
“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said James. “It’s hunting accident articles in GON that helped me realize that I should use a safety belt. I hope my accident will open someone’s eyes.”
Also in January 1996:
• DNR reported 53 hunting accidents by mid December 1995. Six of those were fatalities.
• Land was selling in Jasper County for $700/acre.
10 Years Ago: January 2006
When Bucks Attack!: Thornton Null, 75, of Locust Grove, spent Christmas in a cast after a bizarre incident at B.F. Grant WMA in early December 1995.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, Thornton, his cousin Norman McCullough, 72, and Charles Moore, 66, both from Conyers, went for a rabbit hunt at the Putnam County public tract. The three men were walking up a woods road, waiting for the beagles to jump a rabbit, when a big, whitetail buck—at least an 8-pointer—ran over Thornton, breaking a bone in his lower leg, just above his ankle.
“You think about snakes, abandoned wells and stumpholes,” Thornton said. “You don’t think about deer.
“We were in some thinned woods with some pretty high briars, and I could heard the deer coming. All of a sudden, I saw nothing but head and horns. I don’t know what the deer’s intentions were, but I would have thought the deer would avoid me.”
When the deer crashed through the briars, Thornton tried to fall to the ground, thinking the deer would jump right over him. However, the deer struck him. Thornton said there was a rip in his coat that he surmised was from the buck’s antler getting tangled in it.
“I’m lucky because I know how it could have turned out,” Thornton said. “If it would have hit me broadside, it would have probably killed me.”
Thornton was wearing a brand-new, leather, wide-brimmed hat on the hunt. Norman and Charles joked with him that the buck was trying to steal his new hat.
“If he wanted my hat that bad, I’d have just handed it to him,” Thornton cracked. “They said the deer came trotting by them kind of slow, and I told them he was probably checking out their headgear to see if he wanted to take it, too.”
Also in January 2006:
• Ten years ago, GON’s cover ballot question was: Should Georgia deer hunters be allowed to place feed out for deer and hunt over the feed?
• A chart was published showing where Georgia harvested banded wood ducks came from. You would think Georgia, right? Wrong. The findings showed that 12.9 percent of banded woodies killed in Georgia (between 1995-2004) came from New York, followed by Ohio (9.7 percent) and then Georgia (7.9 percent).