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Mason County News
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Food Chain
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 • Posted June 22, 2011

Every time someone gets attacked in the Gulf of Mexico by a shark, or jellyfish, or angry squirrels, or whatever, I make sure my friend, Greg Berlocher of Houston, hears about it. Greg is always giving me a hard time because I won’t wadefish in the gulf. And I always give him a hard time because he does.Once, when my wife and I were fishing with a guide out of Rockport, the fish weren’t biting too well, and our guide said, “I know there’s some fish over around those islands, but it gets shallow in there, and we may have to get out and push the boat some. You don’t have a problem with that, do you?”I said, “What?” I was stalling for time, hoping maybe something would happen that would keep me from having to agree to get out of the boat. Maybe Armageddon, or something.Our guide said, “If we get stuck I’ll need you to get out and help push.”I said, “I’m not getting out of the boat.” And I meant it.He looked at me like he was deciding whether to use me for bait. He said, “Are you kidding?” I shook my head.We fished somewhere else, where there was no chance of running aground. And we didn’t catch much, but I didn’t have to get out of the boat.It’s not that I think something will eat me if I get in the water. It’s just that I KNOW nothing is going to eat me if I stay out of the water. And if you don’t think you’re way down at the bottom of the food chain when you get in salt water, you didn’t watch ‘Jaws’ when you were thirteen years old, like I did.A young woman who lives in Mason must have missed that movie, because she went to Corpus Christi with her family recently, and she went in the water. She even allowed her children, who are basically bite-sized to a lot of ocean creatures, to go in the water, too.Now, I’m not being critical, because I’ve let my own bite-sized kids swim in the gulf. I figured if a shark came along, I would have a better chance of making dry ground if there were other targets in the water. Plus kids do more splashing and such, so they probably look more like bait.But nothing happened to this woman’s kids. She, however, got whacked by a stingray in less than three feet of water. The barb, or whatever it’s called, stabbed her in the calf, and when she looked down to see how bad it was, blood was shooting out in a solid stream. The ray must have hit a large vein.I’ve never had a run-in with a stingray, due in no small part to my aversion to salt water, but I’ve been told it hurts. Just being poked by such a large spike would hurt, but it also has something like venom on it, so we’re talking major pain here. And this lady had to act like it was not that big a deal to keep from scaring her kids.Her husband got her in their vehicle, and tried to hold pressure on the wound while he drove her to a clinic. When they got there a woman was locking the door, and told them, “Sorry, but we’re closed.” Bummer.So they went to another clinic, which was probably a real pain, what with not being all that familiar with Corpus, and the people there told them they didn’t have anything to treat a stingray wound. Another bummer.They finally found a hospital or emergency room or something that was equipped to handle the situation. The whole thing seems strange to me. I can’t imagine why clinics at the coast would be unprepared to treat damage that must happen pretty often, but there you go. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the city is named Body of Christ. Maybe they just expect divine intervention, or something.And if you’re wondering why I’m a little vague on some of the facts, it’s because I had to get this story second hand, from my wife. For some reason people don’t say much about their outdoor adventures around me anymore. I have no idea why.Anyway, this incident is yet another indication to me that if God had intended man to swim in salt water, He would have given us gills. Or at least spearguns.Personally, I do all my ocean swimming at least 100 miles from the nearest coast. Surfing is pretty difficult that way, but at least I don’t have to worry about ending up like Steve Erwin, which is what will likely happen to Greg Berlocher one of these days, if he doesn’t quit that wade fishing. All I really have to worry about is angry squirrels . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who avoids things that want to eat him, as a general rule. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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