By Chief Warrant Officer 3 James McDevitt
Special to GUIDON
I remember it like it was yesterday — the day I nearly killed myself and my best friend while driving to a favorite turkey-hunting spot.
We worked for a concrete construction company that usually gave us the day off during bad weather.
On this particular day during the height of Missouri’s turkey season, it was pouring rain. We were anticipating the boss letting us off for the day and were eager to be released so we could go hunting.
After about 15 minutes, we received the word, “No work today.”
We always prepared for these moments, especially during hunting season, and had all the necessary equipment ready for an expeditious move out.
We jumped into my pickup and took off like a shot. It was getting close to daylight, so we were in somewhat of a hurry to beat the turkeys off the roost.
We wanted to be set up in position before the turkeys flew down out of the trees where they’d spent the night.
This was a crucial time because it set the pace and gave either the hunter or the hunted the upper hand. Once the male, or “Tom” turkey, gets together with a hen, it’s tough to call him to you because he already has what he wants.
On our way to the hunting spot, we crossed a bridge over a very swollen creek. We were amazed at how high the water was compared to normal.
We traversed this road often, so we knew the water was sure to be just as amazing farther ahead at the low-water crossing. Little did we know.
So we pressed on.
When we arrived, it was unbelievable — like something out of the movie Deliverance. I hesitated as I eased the front tires into the water.
As I did, I thought about how the hunting spot was only 100 meters on the other side and how long it would take to go around. I had an attitude and said, “I can make it!” and drove a little farther, testing the depth as we went. My friend, who typically taunted others to go for it — especially when it wasn’t his vehicle — didn’t say a word.
We were now more than halfway across the rushing water, which was three-quarters the way up my door. At that point we were committed; there was no turning back.
We had almost made it across when the truck began shifting and sliding with the rushing water. My friend nervously said, “Dude, hit the gas!” I barked back, “Dude, I’ve got it floored!”
However, the truck couldn’t move any faster because the rear tires were floating. Fortunately, at the last possible moment, the tires grabbed and we made it to the other side.
We both let out a sigh of relief and my friend said, “We made it, but don’t ever do that again!”
We made up our minds to take the long way home and to never to try crossing high water again.
The point of this story is to avoid having a “I can make it!” attitude toward taking needless risks.
Life is too short and too many people care about you to afford that kind of attitude. Conduct at least a mental risk assessment on everything you do — even the things you do in your normal, daily life. And remember to watch out whenever somebody with an attitude says, “I can make it!”
That means someone is about to get hurt or killed. Try not to be that someone.
(Editor’s note: McDevitt is with the Missouri Army National Guard in Jefferson City, Missouri.)