Check out these extraordinary stories from the winners of the Nikon/"North American Hunter-TV" Tell Us Your E-S-T Hunting Story contest:
By Michael Olier (Abita Springs, Louisiana)
As you are aware, Louisiana is known for its bayous and swamps. While hunting one morning in the Honey Island Swamp during the month of December 2011, I watched a large buck walking the swamp through the cypress trees.
I ranged him at 275 yards, raised my Browning .270 Win. with my Nikon Monarch riflescope, fired, and dropped the buck in his tracks. I climbed out of my stand and began walking toward the area the buck fell, but was unable to see him from the ground.
While walking in my waders through the cold, knee-deep water, I suddenly fell into a deep hole. Water quickly began filling my waders. I knew I was in trouble, but tried to stay calm and quickly pushed my rifle beneath the dark, dingy water. The gun, scope and all, were under water into the mud all the way to the end of the recoil pad.
I pulled myself out of the underwater hole into a shallower area. I was totally exhausted, but managed to remove my waders, and then began pulling my rifle while working it back and forth until it released from the mud and water.
I can honestly say my Nikon Monarch riflescope not only gives me a perfect, clean view for hunting—it also saved my life.
The local gunsmith cleaned and checked my gun and scope, I was told after washing off the scope it did not have a drop of water or mud inside. He told me he has been gunsmithing more than 40 years, and if he had not seen it with his own eyes, he would not have believed it.
Time-Tested By Accident
By Mitchell Sher (Jericho, New York)
Well my E-S-T story was about 3 years ago. While field dressing my deer, I placed my Nikon binocular on the ground next to my backpack. I then proceeded to drag out my deer. Unbeknownst to me, I left my Nikons lying by the gut pile.
By the time I realized I had forgotten them, I was more than 3 hours away from my stand. I figured I would be back before the end of the season to hunt again, so I didn’t worry too much about it. However, as luck would have it, the weather turned on us and we were forced to finish hunting in another area. I was so bummed, my wife bought me a new bino from Cabela’s for Christmas, but they were not like my Nikons.
We returned the following August after having the area logged for timber. All set to move treetops and set up for hunting season, I looked and looked for the Nikons, but found nothing. Later that day, I was clearing some brush and got my foot stuck under a downed branch. After falling and breaking my tibia and fibula, as well as my ankle socket, I laid on the ground squirming in pain, waiting for my father-in-law to come get me. It seemed like forever.
But while lying on my back, I looked to my left, and there were my Nikons. I grabbed them and held on in that bitter-sweet moment. With my foot twisted out of place, we didn’t know what was wrong. The ATV ride down the mountain seemed to take forever. I felt every blade of grass and every pebble under the tires. Then came the 45-minute drive to the closest hospital.
When I was admitted, I still had my bino around my neck, but when the doctors and nurses began to examine me and then take X-rays, I was informed I was going to need surgery. All I could think was, Why me? I had tickets to fly out to Wyoming to go hunting the very next week, and now I was going to miss this trip for which I had so long waited and saved. On top of that, they told me I was also going to miss hunting at home for a long time. I wound up getting my bones set, a copy of my X-rays and then a drive from upstate down to my home area to have the surgery.
Now, get this: I had my Nikons when I left the hospital and remember having them for the ride home. We drove straight to the hospital for my surgery and somewhere, somehow, the bag with my personal belongings when I returned home 4 days later had no Nikons in it. Imagine how angry I was. I called the hospital and they found nothing in my room—or so they said.
After staying out in the woods for more than 11 months, the binocular still worked and barely looked aged. There was zero moisture build up, and if I still had them I would be using them today.
I am now back to hunting. If this hadn’t happened to me, I would have thought this was a made-up story and not believed it, but I have all the scars and medical records to prove it. So, I believe that I have truly tested my Nikon optics—and what a superior product they make. Thank goodness, I put my rangefinder away before I went to track my deer.
Scari-EST Hunt: A Sinking Feeling
By Robert K. McLamara (Steubenville, Ohio)
A spring bear hunt in Alaska! What could be better?
We landed first in Juneau and took a twin-engine plane down to Kake. The fourth evening we spotted a large bear walking the shore. However, it was getting late and he was way across a large bay, so we decided to wait until the next morning.
The next morning, we went back to where we had seen the big bear to attempt to set up an ambush. No one told us of the dangers of walking across a tidal flat when the tide is out. The bay was approximately 500 yards wide. The first 250 yards was like walking on the shore, but from there it became just like quicksand. I was sinking quickly, and the more I struggled, the deeper I went.
My cell phone would not work. I was going to call my wife to tell her goodbye. My friend, Mike, who was hunting with me, was walking near the shore when he saw I was in trouble. He started to come out, but I told him not to because we would both end up drowning.
He yelled, asking me what to do, and I told him to go back to the road for help. Mike ran 3 miles, shooting into the air every so often. He finally ran into a man and his wife who had a satellite phone. A helicopter and boat were launched for the rescue.
With the tide coming in rapidly, I got the idea to use my backpack as a float. The water rose enough that I could loosen my feet, but my Nikon binocular and camera were in plastic bags floating out to sea beyond my reach.
Somehow I reached the shore alive. Two clinic nurses who arrived to help said it was a miracle; 10 people had died in that same spot.