Jeep Story, The Last Ride!
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We only had two days off so we left immediately after our graveyard shift, driving my 1969 Toyota Land Cruiser to our hunting destination 60 miles north of Elko, a good nine-hour drive.
We arrived at our campsite after dark, so we just threw our sleeping bags on the ground and passed out from exhaustion after being awake for 24 hours. The next morning was typical for October, clear and cold with an expected high of about 65 degrees. We ate some breakfast and hit the trail before sunup to catch the deer feeding. We hunted until noon without success so we stopped for some lunch and to plan our evening hunt.
Back in the days when this hunt took place, in late fall, the bucks we were after (many with spreads over 30 inches) would cross into Nevada from Idaho on their way to Utah. Unfortunately, the weather was still too mild for the migration to take place. So we would just have to hunt the local bucks for now, which meant changing locations. So this Jeep Story continued along the jeep trail from White Rock to Pennsylvania Mountain, also known for good hunting. Upon arriving at our destination, we ran into a couple from Reno who had been hunting the Pennsylvania Mountain area for days and knew the whereabouts of some nice bucks.
The couple, a Reno Police officer and his wife, invited us to hunt with them and even suggested that we spend the night in their 30 ft. travel trailer. We accepted their hospitality and returned to their trailer to leave my Land Cruiser, so we could make the evening hunt in their open military jeep. The weather was in the 60s and clear when we left camp for the evening hunt. The strategy we normally used to hunt this area was to drop hunters off at the top of ridges to work the Aspen groves on the way down to the bottoms where the jeep driver would wait for both the hunters and maybe a buck driven down.
Tracks to nowhere!
As we stopped to glass the hillsides on the way out, I saw what appeared to be jeep tracks headed down an extremely steep hillside. Upon closer examination, the tracks seemed to stop with no sign of backing up (it was too steep to turn around). I pointed this out to my colleges and was told a hair-raising Jeep Story. Apparently, earlier in the season, a Toyota Land Cruiser owned by a Reno man made those tracks, just before it flipped end over end until finally coming to rest at the bottom of the canyon. Little did I know that the Land Cruiser would soon have company and yet another jeep story to tell.
Change of Weather
It was about three in the afternoon when we noticed what appeared to be a snowstorm moving in from the West. In no time it went from clear and mild to freezing blizzard conditions, quite common for that time of the year in the high country of the west. Before we knew it, there were six inches of snow on the ground and building. Our new friend decided to chain-up the front wheels of his jeep, a mistake we would later regret.
With the weather being so bad, riding in the open jeep was getting very cold so we decided to drop three of us off a hundred yards apart along the ridge-top to watch for deer. By this time the weather was starting to break a little and visibility was improving. The evening hunt was looking better all the time. I was the first person to be dropped off and immediately started spotting deer and a couple small bucks.
Then it Happened!
As I was watching the deer and hoping a larger buck would appear, I heard a faint cry for help in the direction the jeep had gone! I immediately grabbed my gun and ran toward the direction of the cries. As I got closer to the sounds, I wondered why the jeep was nowhere in sight! Less then a hundred yards away, I spotted what appeared to be a body about 20 yards down the hill from the narrow jeep trail. As I got closer, I saw two more bodies lying nearby.
It became apparent what had happened. The jeep had rolled, but was nowhere insight! I approached the first victim, the lady and asked if she was badly injured. She replied that she didn’t think so, but her husband was unconscious and unresponsive. My hunting partner was the next closest so I asked how he was. He said he wasn’t sure but thought he wasn’t too badly injured either. Keep in mind that this was only minutes after the accident so I felt no one could really assess their own injuries that quickly.
Further down the hill lay the third victim, who by the way, was still recovering from a hit and run auto accident that had broken every bone in his body! By the time I reached him, he was conscious so I asked how he felt, he said he didn’t know. What a mess… here we were out in the boonies 60 miles from the nearest town, five miles from camp with no transportation and it was starting to snow again.
It was apparent that all three victims were in shock and needed medical attention as soon as possible. This meant I would have to leave them and walk out for help. All I could do was gather all three of my friends together in one spot and build a fire to keep them warm until I was able to return with help. There was no cover or shelter nearby, just sagebrush, rocks and snow on our 8,000 ft. mountainside.
To Build a Fire
To build a fire I needed the axe that was in the jeep. I hiked down to the bottom of the ravine where what was left of the jeep lay and recovered the axe. On the way back up I also rounded up all the guns and binoculars to place with my friends. Armed with the axe, I hiked to the nearest timber and gathered a load of wood, went back and started a large fire. I then cut and gathered enough wood to sustain the party, hopefully, until help could arrive.
The Long Hike Out
After making the victims comfortable as possible, I set out for help. About three miles into my hike, I ran into some hunters with a 4×4 Chevy pickup. When I explained our predicament, they immediately agreed to help and drove me back to the accident site where we loaded my friends on a mattress in the back, along with what equipment I could salvage from the wreck, and drove us back to camp.
At the wreck-site I was able to recreate what had had caused the accident. The jeep was tracking along the narrow trail when it came to a slight incline that caused the rear wheels to lose traction and slide downward while the chained front wheels held their position. The right rear tire slid into a rut abruptly stopping the slide and turned the jeep over landing on top of the driver and his two passengers as it rolled down hill.
In the warm trailer, everyone’s injuries were better assessed and I decided to drive all three to the Emergency room in Elko for further examination. Other than shock, a few cuts, bruises and minor internal injuries everyone (including the Land Cruised driver) survived to go 4-wheeling another day. As for the jeep, I think it’s still there along with a few Land Cruiser pieces that were resting only a short distance away. This turned out to be just another Jeep Story
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