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A Big Misunderstanding

November 9, 2020

I love to amble around in the outdoors by myself looking at plants, smelling growth and decay, listening to the quiet sounds of nature living. Oregon is a hiker’s wonderland. Sunday dawned cool and drizzly, then cleared up, so I was happy to lace up my Merrell Moab hiking shoes (highly recommended), toss together a knapsack, and head out on a trail that I wanted to explore.

The trail runs behind my RV park, and I had a suspicion it might take me to a lake a couple miles away, The trail was damp and fall was in full swing, with yellow leaves showering down around me, red berries on the bushes, and the endless blackberry brambles turning bright colors.

I found the end of the trail. I could see the lake spillway about a mile away, but there was no way to get there, so I turned around. Because the trail had been wet and slippery in spots, I walked down onto a fire road to go home.

I heard a noise and looked up to see a gorgeous pheasant regarding me. Pheasants are large, spectacular birds, this one in deep blue and purple, with a striped brown tail and a red head. The pheasant didn’t seem shy. It seemed interested. It came right for me and began walking with me. I took a few photos and kept walking, as did the pheasant. I figured it might have a nest nearby and wanted me to get away, so I obliged. I started walking faster and the bird started running alongside me.

It kept getting closer and closer to me and making burbling noises and flapping its wings at me. I started getting creeped out, wanting this strange aggressive bird to leave me alone. I had a long walk home and it showed no signs of dropping away – it was getting weird. The bird was obsessed with me. I started to worry about it attacking me like all those YouTube videos of attack geese and turkeys I had seen.

In a moment of fear, I made a crucial mistake. I swung my backpack at the bird. Oh no. Now it was on like Donkey Kong. The backpack was the enemy and the bird was in full attack mode. I kept the backpack between me and it, but it was determined to get both me and the evil backpack.

The angry bird circled behind me and I swung around wildly, hitting a patch of mud at the same time. My feet came out from underneath me and I fell, involuntarily doing the splits on the way down, hearing something in my hip pop. I writhed around in pain for a minute and then tried to scramble up out of the mud. A shot of red-hot pain bolted up my leg and I realized I could not stand.

I think if there was no bird, I would have eventually gotten up and hobbled home, but I could not both fend off the bird and try to get up again. I was fairly certain I could not even get up. I called 911 and told the operator where I was and what was happening. She said it might be a while before the EMTs got to my town from the hospital 13 miles away and got through the locked gates to the fire road where I lay.

I spent the next 20 or 30 minutes sitting in the cold mud, spinning around on my butt like a trapped crab, the bird constantly circling me. I did not want to let it get behind my back lest it attack my head or something. I tried to wave it away with my jacket and my big orange rain poncho. I yelled at it. I blocked it with my backpack. And nothing, nothing would dissuade this weird murder chicken. The entire time I waited for my rescuers, the bird stalked me, never more than 2 feet away.

Part of me was sad that I had taken an aggressive stance with this bird. Maybe we could have been friends. Maybe this pheasant was someone’s pet. But it was all too late. We were mad at each other, and we were trapped there together in the mud. The pheasant angrily pecked at my backpack, my pants, my arms. Sometimes it would angrily burble at me, and other times it would stop and stand, eyes almost closing as if it were going to sleep.

After what felt like a long time, I looked up to see a group of five EMTs walking quickly along the road. It took one to assess me, two to help me stand up, and two to keep the pheasant away from me. They were laughing along with me at the ridiculousness of the situation. The pheasant was STILL determined to get me. I could see it peering at me from between the EMT’s legs who were acting as my Suebob Secret Bird Protection Service.

I got the first ambulance ride of my life to emergency, then got to tell my story to every single person at the hospital because they all wanted to hear it from the victim’s mouth. The doctor came in, I got some motrin and had a friend pick me up.

I have a badly strained left leg, a bruise about 6 inches wide. sciatic pain that makes going to the bathroom a special adventure, wounded dignity and a crazy story. I also have a new respect for a mighty, scrappy little pheasant who lives in a bush not too far from here.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. Robin permalink
    November 9, 2020 10:04

    Wow I had no idea this event was this dramatic! I thought the pheasant “just” gauged a hole in your leg. I kind a wish I was there because this whole event in my imagining as you were telling it is extremely comical. But of course, I would have protected you from the evils of this intense pheasant.

    • November 9, 2020 15:56

      I am sure you would have been a pheasant whisperer. I freaked out too soon.

  2. November 9, 2020 10:24

    I’m so glad you’re okay, but the story is pretty great.

  3. November 9, 2020 12:12

    Wow! What a story! I wonder what else you could have done…. Glad you are okay. And now I know I will be sure to stay as far away from pheasants as I can.

    • November 9, 2020 15:56

      Maybe we could have gotten along. But I panicked! Being chased by a pheasant was a new experience.

  4. Gail Munro permalink
    November 9, 2020 13:34

    Priceless, Sue. Do hope you heal well and fast. Strains are not fun, and take a pretty long time to heal!!!

    On Mon, Nov 9, 2020 at 9:33 AM Suebob’s Red Stapler wrote:

    > Suebob posted: ” I love to amble around in the outdoors by myself, and > Oregon is a hiker’s wonderland. Sunday dawned cool and drizzly, then > cleared up, so I was happy to lace up my Merrell Moab hiking shoes, toss > together a knapsack, and head out on a trail I wan” >

    • November 9, 2020 15:55

      Thanks, Gail. Gosh I hope it doesn’t take too long. I can’t bend over to do anything!

  5. Elvie permalink
    November 9, 2020 15:06

    Hugs. Sorry I didn’t teach you how to “Bird Whisper”. Not that I’m any good at it, as my scars will attest to.

  6. Annie Peterson permalink
    November 10, 2020 03:36

    Best story ever. Wish we could have seen a video of this scenario as it played out, I know it was not funny, but just imagining you fend off this bird, gave me a little chuckle. I’m thinking perhaps she had a family close by and defending her or his territory.

    Glad your ok Sue Bob, I love to walk alone too, but perhaps we should have a pal to walk with. I do carry a whistle and mace as I’m not licensed to carry a gun yet!

    Take care please keep your adventurous tales coming!

  7. November 10, 2020 08:08

    I read the first few sentences and immediately thought, “Hiking alone is risky. What if she gets hurt?” A friend recently had a bad experience in Sedona, so it was fresh in my mind. But just like you, she called for and received help. Marvelous inventions, these cell phones.
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I imagine there will be more stories as you cope with your injuries. I loved this one!

    • November 15, 2020 10:17

      I have hiked thousands of miles by myself, but I’m starting to seriously reconsider.

  8. November 10, 2020 19:47

    What a delightfully amusing story! Thank you so much for sharing it. You always brighten my day 🙂 I hope and pray that you heal well. Take care!

  9. November 15, 2020 10:39

    This story will be my favorite thing today, if not all week. And it’s only Sunday. What really put it over the top is the photo of what appears to be a 2 pound bird. I’m not making fun, though; some of the meanest people I know weigh less than 100 pounds full grown, so I would imagine it’s the same with birds. Tiny but vicious. I’m glad you’re okay.

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