Life ain’t fair. While hanging deer stands near the Tex-Mex border on a scorching hot day, an otherwise welcomed breeze suddenly kicked up. The very last thing he remembers of his former life was a dust devil swirling lazily towards him. For only his third duck hunt in the 6 years since that fateful day, Kyle Grant chose to hunt with friends in a very remote Argentina location that was especially challenging. Because that’s the kind of guy he is. And it is there that he opened up, sharing this triumphant story, explaining the real secret to life. Folks, y’all do not want to miss this amazingly inspirational story! Because life is what you make of it.
Facing Adversity…No Guarantees
Folks, life ain’t easy and easy sure ain’t guaranteed.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, glad you all are back. I’m still down in Rio Salado, one of the most remote places on God’s earth. And you all heard me say a million times, it’s not just the bird or the camp, it’s the people, I’m blessed with getting to meet a lot of people and sitting around a campfire in a remote lodge, hearing stories that are interesting and today I’m going to share one with you. Life doesn’t guarantee the easy street, life is life, shit happens. There’s no guarantees in life, but just to keep on plowing along and I heard a great story the other night after dinner with a friend and client of mine and I thought I’d have him come on, he shot a bunch of ducks and decided to take the afternoon off like I did. Kyle, glad to see you here, man.
Kyle Grant: Man, glad to be here. Been a long time coming to get all the way down here to Argentina with you.
Ramsey Russell: I got to know you years ago, I mean, a long time ago in Mexico, in Obregon back in the good old days when lots of brants still came down.
Kyle Grant: We saw a lot of brant while we were there, that was a fun time, man.
Ramsey Russell: When you come to our Obregon hunt now because the migration shift a little bit, we call it a Mexico kind of a combo hunt back in the day, we called it a brant hunt because that’s what we were there for. Three out of four mornings, we would target brant and shoot a few ducks and now it’s just mostly ducks a few brant at time, this year, they kind of made a come back, I thought about some of you guys. But they made a show and for the first time in 5 or 6 years, they kind of came back this year.
Kyle Grant: Well, there’s so many ducks there also. You can go down there and have a great time just shooting the pintails and wigeon and teal and everything else that are down there. I mean, the brant’s kind of a bonus.
Ramsey Russell: The Tejano boy showed up the other day to Rio Salado you all are a lot of fun and I’ve just noticed that the Texans always are, kind of like coon asses. Any time you get a group of guys that have been together for 20 years, it’s going to be fun in camp and I’ll tell you something else, I noticed Kyle is, birds of a feather flock together and this hunt, this remote location is a long drive or long travel out from Buenos Aires it attracts a certain kind of guy. And we’ve got a dozen people or so sitting around the kitchen, around the table every night and we all got something in common, wouldn’t you say?
Kyle Grant: Absolutely. I mean, these guys that I came with, we’ve hunted together since 2002, 2003 and we all went to college together and I really didn’t duck hunt growing up, I was a deer hunter and I met my buddy Wade in college and he was like, hey, have you ever been to Arkansas duck hunting? I said, no, I showed up in deer hunting clothes and some wader I bought at Academy and I froze to death that first year up there, I didn’t know it’s so cold in Arkansas. But man, we hammered mallards and I was hooked, I was hooked and we’ve been hunting ducks ever since. And it gets a little harder as you get older and married and kids and job and you don’t have the time that we used to in college. But we like wild ducks and wild places and meeting people that like to do the things that we like to do. And I’ve been wanting to come to Argentina since 2005, 2006.
Ramsey Russell: We talked about it in Mexico.
World’s Greatest Duck Hunt
…you need to go see Argentina, you need to go experience this.
Kyle Grant: We did and I held off in the beginning because you couldn’t bring the birds back and I just thought, man, I’ll wait, they’ll change it and we did, we talked about it in Oberon and you said, Kyle, it doesn’t matter, you need to go see Argentina, you need to go experience this.
Ramsey Russell: I’ll reiterate that point just because you brought it up because it just in the last few weeks down here running social media, a lot of people have asked, they always ask, any time we show those traps with those beautiful species or holding those birds, they all ask, everybody ask, all you guys listening wondering how can I bring the bird back? Can I get them out of there and bring them back? Can I bring him back? What do I do? Here is the deal here, here’s my humble belief right now, haven’t been down here for a month. Argentina duck season will close forever to everybody before this government that has no duck hunting culture that is primarily urban allows the export of indigenous wildlife, that’s just my humble belief. I will be shocked if in 2 or 3 or 4 years, we’re allowed to duck hunt in this province still because it’s underfoot right now that these people, they don’t connect to the ducks, there’s zero basis of duck hunting culture like we think of, even in Texas or Connecticut, there’s zero and they could care less. And I’ll tell you this after so many years of absence, not being allowed to come here because of that damn pandemic, I’m just glad to be here and put my hands back on those birds and take those pictures and old Char dog fetching them up and I’m just glad to be here, man. It’s still the world’s greatest duck hunt.
Kyle Grant: It’s a special place. I’ve only been here two days now and just seeing so many birds, but there’s no people out here, there the birds aren’t flaring off of someone else on public land that’s sky blasting or anything like that and you shoot these things and the first day I’m like, I don’t even know what kind of bird that was. And at the end of the day you’re going through and looking at them and learning about new species of birds you never seen before. And I mean, the bills on those silver teal are just gorgeous.
Ramsey Russell: In wet in wet years, I have literally walked off this porch and gone a quarter mile on foot and shot heavy straps, the drier years you drive further. And we were talking on our end of the dinner table at lunch today, we’re in the middle of nowhere, which is to say this, we’re driving upwards of an hour in multiple directions right now to go to the hunting areas and there ain’t nobody but a gaucho house, one gaucho house between here and there, that’s middle of nowhere, man.
Kyle Grant: Oh we’re in the middle of nowhere for sure.
Ramsey Russell: I want to circle back a minute. You went with Wade, who’s down here also in your first Arkansas duck hunt? How old were you and what do you remember about that experience?
Kyle Grant: I was 19 or 20, I don’t remember which one. And I had jump shot birds off of ponds in Texas and that’s all I knew, I didn’t know how to call using a duck call and he gave me a duck call and he had to listen to me blow that thing all the way up to Arkansas from Texas trying to teach me how to blow a mallard call. And just great guy, nice enough to let me do that and I was terrible at it, I’d finally get a quack by the time we got to Arkansas and I remember it was cold and I remember standing in that water being like, man, this is crazy.
Ramsey Russell: Were you all in the timber?
Kyle Grant: No, we were in like a flooded rice field. But we had these like, kind of layout boats, almost like pirogue or something out there because they weren’t hitting where the blind was and it’s cold and then those first couple of mallards came in and locked in and I was like, they’re calling them and they’re responding to the calls and I’d never seen anything like that before and I was hooked, but I’d say the thing that I noticed the most is just the camaraderie around like everyone duck hunted in the morning, but then everyone just hung out there at the house and you’re sitting around a campfire and you could tell these guys had been friends and been doing this together for decades, they knew everything about each other and giving each other a hard time and it was like a family there.
Making Your Heart Skip A Beat
There’s something about that, that relationship, that dance, that hunt that connects us to it.
Ramsey Russell: And from that point, I’m assuming you shot a mallard for your first duck, mallard or do you remember?
Kyle Grant: Well, my first duck was actually a blue bill jumping a pond not up there like in Texas, like I shot a couple there. But yeah, first ducks up there in Arkansas were mallards and I was hooked.
Ramsey Russell: They hooked up, they do it right, like the whole duck hunting book universally has been written for the mallard because you can interact with them, you had that conversation with them and they will respond and they will decoy and they will buy your sales pitch and come on in, your heart’s beating and I hear that time and time again, just hearing you describe the duck starting to work, I’m already in my imagination envisioning those mallards circling and getting lower and getting the wind right, sorting out, coming right in front of you into the decoys. And all these years later that makes my heart skip a beat. There’s something about that, that relationship, that dance, that hunt that connects us to it.
Kyle Grant: Yeah. The guys, I mean, they were awesome on the call, I didn’t know anything about it, but they knew when to call, they knew when not to and those birds were working and came in. But, yeah, exactly what you said that they’re having a conversation with the bird and the birds listening and responding. And I was like, that’s amazing. How do I do this? I want to do this. And just letting those guys – and they took me in like, I’m a guy from Texas, I don’t know nothing about duck hunting at all besides, I’d know how to shoot a shotgun and they took me in, they’re all teaching me how to call and saying, hey, watch the birds do this and watch when they got to get the wind right, don’t call them too early or else they’ll come in, they won’t be able to land, watch what we’re doing and they taught me how to do it for a whole week and brought me in like, I was one of them.
Ramsey Russell: That’s the duck hunting fraternity, not just in America, but worldwide. Like here, one thing that really appeals to me about this location and our locations in Argentina is the real duck hunts among real duck hunters. And your guide here this week is, I mean, he’s patrolled, he is the guy and you don’t speak a lot of Spanish, do you? And I know he don’t speak much English.
Kyle Grant: I speak more Spanish than he does English. I can speak enough to where we kind of can communicate a little bit, so that’s definitely helpful to have.
Ramsey Russell: But you’re a duck hunter now, he’s a duck hunter and you go out and he’s observing, he’s seeing how you are, you’re seeing how he is and even without much conversation, it goes together, right, doesn’t it?
Kyle Grant: Yeah. Not a whole lot of words need to be exchanged when there’s birds coming in and even I needed a little help moving, kind of getting situated and getting set up and he figured out what I needed and got it all out there and we started hammering birds, even without being able to fully communicate in the language.
Ramsey Russell: You were telling me the first time you got here that, this was – now when I met you in Mexico 6 years ago, you and Justin and Casey, you all are just 3 Tejano duck killers. I mean, you’ve come a long way since that first hunt in rice field, I don’t know how much hunting you’ve done, but you all had come a long ways, you all were just a well oiled killing machine down there in Mexico and I assume you’ve done it your whole life and you’d only hunted in the last 6 years, 3 times?
Kyle Grant: In the last 6 years, yeah, we’ve hunted 3 times.
Ramsey Russell: And you came here and you were just kind of rolling with the punches saying, hey, I’m here, I’m looking forward to it, but there’s limitations, I’m just going to take what comes and you went out the first afternoon, tell me about your first afternoon hunt here.
Kyle Grant: First afternoon home was tough. So, I’ve hunted a couple of times in the last 6 years and it’s always been really out of a blind or something with a hard surface, something I can sit down on and we got out there and had a hard time getting my feet set in a marsh in the mud, I knew what I was getting into, I knew it was going to be a challenge and the birds in the afternoon, they weren’t really decoying or anything, they’re passing shots and I’m just missing shots and I think I missed my first 21 shots and a birds coming over and Miguel, my guide is shoot and I’m like, man, I already missed 21 shots, I’m just burning money at this point and this bird comes and he’s coming right to left and I didn’t even think about it, I just said, okay, and I had my feet planted well and he was in front of me coming to my left and I just swung on him, got a lead and pulled the trigger and he just crumpled. And I was like, oh man, I remember that now, like I remember how to do that now, maybe I can do that again and that was my last shot of the day. But it gave me hope for tomorrow, almost like a bad golfer. You get one good shot and you’re like, oh, wait, yeah, maybe I can do this, keep coming back.
Ramsey Russell: But what got me is that night, we stayed up late talking, everybody had gone to bed and me, you and Richard were sitting around, just sitting around a fire having a cocktail or whatever and you shrug said, well, things have changed and I just accept it for what it is and there’s just some things I’ll never be able to do again like I did, but you did till the next day you go out. And I told you and I’m just going to say, man, you got Miguel and these boys don’t speak our language, but they’re duck hunters and it’s just been my observation, they’re always looking. For example, I don’t know, F bomb is kind of a universal word, everybody in the world knows it and kind of use it. But I’ve just noticed and I’ve been wondering to myself the last couple of weeks, did my guide, like when I miss now, boom, boom, I miss a bird, he says it for me. And I just wondered and I keep looking at him like I think he barring that from me. And if the bird is still coming and Char brings a live bird, I’ll just hand it back to him and I hear a crunch, he bites the head, he don’t bite it all the way, he bites it just like I bite it and hangs it up just like I hang him up, he kind of knows my ways. And I said, be patient because I think that, because the marsh is relatively dry, some of the areas we’re hunting are kind of shallow, it’s a little harder bottom until you get around those blind droughts in some areas and these guys are very – they deal with a lot of different clients with different limitations and different expectations and different whatever and they adapt too. And their job and their life mission is to get all of us within our limitations in the right place and get it right. And I said, I got faith, it might be a work in progress, but I got faith. I got faith that it’s going to work out and you’re going to get more than one duck. And talk about your first morning, that was your first afternoon, you killed one duck, talk about your first morning?
Kyle Grant: Man, first morning we started about the way we did the first afternoon I missed, I think I missed my first 17 shots, the next morning and I came into this knowing I’m probably not going to be super successful and that’s okay because like you’re going on an experience, you’re going somewhere, you’ve always wanted to go your entire life. You’re going to hang out with some of your best friends in the world, get to come hang out with you again, see you after 6 years and just experience it. But I mean, I want to shoot some birds too.
Ramsey Russell: You didn’t come this far to watch a sunrise.
Kyle Grant: No, I didn’t, I enjoy the sunrise but that’s just part of it. And I missed about the first 17 shots and I realized I can’t turn into blind, I got to have my feet set and if my feet aren’t set, I got no balance, I was trying to sit down and shoot and I had no balance doing that then. So, I looked at Miguel and I said, look, I got to shoot them here basically from like 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock, I can set my feet and when they fly in that area –
Ramsey Russell: And you’re seated.
Kyle Grant: I was seated, but I realized I needed to stand up. And so we kind of set some poles in front of me to where I could use those to help stand up and stood up and I said, look, I got to kill them between 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock on a clock, if it flies anywhere else, I can’t shoot it. And he said, okay, no problem and this is all basically just pointing in a couple of words, but mostly pointing, he says, no problem. He goes and moves the Mojo, moves the decoys about 10:30 on a clock, puts him out there. Next bird that comes in, he decoys right behind, I had to wait till he was almost on the water because I was going to just smash that Mojo, he just hid behind it the whole time and he came in and I hit him, I hit another one, I mean, just chip shots just hanging in the air.
Ramsey Russell: And the muscles reflexes kicked in, those fangs came out.
Kyle Grant: And I was like, okay, I remember how to do this and I mean, after missing the first 17 shots I walked away with 75 birds that morning in less than 5 boxes of shells went through like 4.5 boxes of shells.
Ramsey Russell: Top gunner in the entire camp, that was the best shoot of anybody in camp, that’s pretty impressive, Kyle.
Kyle Grant: I’ve never been like the best shotgun shot or anything and it was awesome. Because when you’re good at something and then you lose the ability to do that, it makes it really hard to have fun doing it again. When you used to know how to do something and you were good at it, to be bad at it, sucks. And I got a little bit back, and more than anything, I mean, I was smiling ear to ear leaving – I didn’t know how many I had, I just like, man, I shot way more birds than I thought I was going to like, I think I probably got like 40 birds this morning and Miguel’s laughing, he’s like no moss than 40.
Ramsey Russell: And you came back told Martha that you killed two.
Kyle Grant: Yeah, he said, hey, don’t tell Martha, we say, no birds, Kyle couldn’t shoot any. And yeah, and then said, no, he got a lot.
Commonalities: Big Game Hunting & Waterfowl Hunting
There’s just a universal bond, the experience of hunting, not just the kill…
Ramsey Russell: Being from Texas, you grew up big game hunting and keeping up with some of you all in social media, Justin especially you all are still big deer hunters, I mean ardent deer hunters but ardent deer hunters of big deer and you all are in the right part of the world in Texas, you all got the right management plan, you all play in A game and the white tailed deer that I’ve seen come out of you all’s area in you all’s camp are just eye popping, free range, unbelievable deer. And I’m leading up to and you still do a lot of hunting. Like you told us the other day at dinner, you were telling us about a leopard hunt in Africa, was that before or after your life changed?
Kyle Grant: That was after. I’ve done most of these big hunts after my accident. So, I’ve gone on some cool hunts, met some awesome people, seen some beautiful parts of God’s country and it’s all that combined, it’s not just the hunt, it’s not just the people, it’s not just the sunrise, but when you mix all that together, it’s just special to go to these places around the world that you’ve always wanted to go, this bucket list of things goes meet different cultures, even though you don’t speak each other’s language by the end of the hunt, you’re friends, you’re friends with these people, you still can’t speak their language. But yeah, most of the hunts have been after the accident.
Ramsey Russell: There’s just a universal bond, the experience of hunting, not just the kill, not just the dead animals, but the whole pageantry, the whole thing that goes into it, there’s just this – it’s like this language that just connects people via the resource and the land and the place and that’s what I’m hooked to Kyle, that’s what keeps me coming back and exploring and doing and compels me, it’s just that and the ducks are just the icing on the cake. Let’s get into this because you all are big deer hunters, you were down in South Texas and I want to hear the real story, I want to hear all the details. What happened that changed your life from the guy I met 6 years ago, freaking killer of epic proportion, full mobility, what happened on August 12th, 6 years ago?
Facing Down Terror
I realized I couldn’t get out and there was nothing I could do on my own to get out, the panic kind of went away because it wasn’t in my control anymore and I realized it wasn’t.
Kyle Grant: We started working around 6 AM as soon as the sun came up because it gets over 100° every day down in some part of Texas. And we hunt in the Golden Triangle, outside of Encinal close to Laredo where 20, 30 miles from the Mexico border, where our ranch is or where our lease is and it’s Webb County. And it’s August, it’s off-season, we’re getting set up, setting up blinds, setting up feed pins, clearing setting up feeders, I mean, just working. And I was with my buddy Casey and we had worked since 6 AM, we started working, pretty much worked through the whole day and about 5 o’clock it is, my truck says it’s 119 °, I think we look back the weatherman said it’s 106°. I mean, we’re pounding waters, Gatorade propels, not peeing and just drinking 4 or 5 waters an hour trying to keep up, it’s hot as it can be. And I look over we’re working on Casey’s blind his deer stand setting it up and his face is white and at the time, Casey’s a pretty big guy and I’m a pretty average size guy. Casey’s over 300 lbs at this time and I’m 5’10, 165 lbs and I was like, man, are you okay? And he goes, I don’t feel good and I was like, you’re too hot, man, you need to get in the truck now. Because if you pass out, I don’t know if I can pick you up and get you in the truck and it’s just you and me, I don’t know what I do to get you in the truck. I was like, go get in there, turn the AC on. So he’s in the truck AC full blast, he’s not too far from me, but he basically passed out in the truck and even if he wasn’t radios on, AC is blowing as hard as it can blow, he can’t hear anything. And so I went to go work on the stand again, I needed a socket wrench.
Ramsey Russell: Describe that stand, is it a tripod? So, describe the stand.
Kyle Grant: It’s a box blind. So it’s a like a 5 by 6 wooden box up on a 10ft tower. So you got 10ft in the air, big old box made of metal and wood and I mean, it was nice blind. Yeah, it’s not like what we used to hunt in growing up, the blinds have gone come a long way since then. So, it’s a big old blind upon a 10ft tower and I went back to get a socket wrench to start tightening up some of the bolts and all we had to do was put the ladder on and he even had a skid steer with forks under the body of the stand, like under the box, just in case something happen because we’re standing under it working on it and it’s not fully latched down yet. And I’m walking back to the stand, I look over and see a dust devil down the pipeline, it’s maybe 5 or 6ft tall and didn’t really pay attention to it and I heard something, almost sounded like a freight train, look over to the right and that dust that was 20ft tall and it closed the distance, maybe it was 150 yards away, it closed the distance so fast from where it was to me in the blind. And I mean, it’s August in South Texas, everything’s dry, it’s hot and so, you can’t see anything, dust and dirt blowing everywhere, like blew all in my eyes. Last thing I remember is we had a drill, cordless drill on the ground and I remember it rolling across the ground like someone had taken it like a bowling ball.
Ramsey Russell: The wind was blowing so hard, all of a sudden it’s blowing his drill.
Kyle Grant: Yeah, 106° still nothing, just a hot August day and last thing I remember is that drill blew across the ground like someone had bowled it like a bowling ball and I ducked my head and kind of leaned over, closed my eyes, put my hands over my face because the all the dirt and dust blowing in my face and next thing I know, I can’t move and I’m on the ground and I thought, why am I on the ground and what is so heavy? Just remember this feeling of heaviness, I mean, like the whole world was pressing down on. And I’m faced down in the dirt and I start thinking, why can’t I move? And I think, maybe the stand fell on me, like, maybe that stands on me, I don’t know. And I tried to move and can’t, and I finally, I realized, yeah, that deer stand, it fell on me and it’s on top of me. And so then the next thought is –
Ramsey Russell: Do you think you were unconscious for a minute?
Kyle Grant: Man, I don’t know. I don’t know if I was or not. I could have been unconscious for a while and just come back, I mean, it felt like I hit the ground and came right back, but I could have been out for a while. I mean, it hit me, I was leaning forward, kind of bending over, so it hit me from my head all the way down to like the back of my knees, that’s where the stand hit me.
Ramsey Russell: At least a half ton of deer stand.
Kyle Grant: I think we looked it up afterwards and I could be wrong on this, but I think it was 1200 lbs.
Ramsey Russell: Over half a ton.
Kyle Grant: And so, the whole thing didn’t hit me, but I was like a fly and they got hit with the fly swatter. So I’m stuck under that stand and I realized like, hey, I got to get out, that’s the next thing. And so I’m trying to push and trying to move and trying to get out and it’s not working. And so my first thought is okay, I got to get myself out, then the next thought is, I got to get Casey to get me out and I try to yell at him and like, nothing comes out.
Ramsey Russell: Like, how far is the truck?
Kyle Grant: He’s probably 40 yards away in the truck.
Ramsey Russell: Sitting under a mesquite tree in a shade.
Kyle Grant: Well, there’s no shade down there. So he wasn’t, but the truck was facing away from the blind and I’m trying to yell and nothing’s coming out at the time, I don’t realize what all’s broken in me and I don’t realize I have a 1200 lbs box pushing down on me, forcing all the air out and I just can’t get any air to get any noise out and I’m trying and I finally get my elbows up under me and I push up with my elbows to just give my torso some room to get some air. And I took 3 as big a breath as I could take and I just screamed as loud as I could, Casey and just kind of like collapsed back under there and I’m waiting, I’m listening, nothing. And I was like, well, okay, that was all I got, at that point I went from, okay I got to save myself to realizing there’s probably nothing that I can do right now to actually get out of this. But I do have a friend that’s 40 yards away in the truck and I just got to make it until he gets over here. And I probably should have started praying first instead of trying to get out first. But I started praying and I was like, God, okay, I can’t get out, I’m going to need your help like I’m going to do my part, I’m going to breathe and I’m going to stay here and do my part and I need you to do yours and I can’t do it, I tried and I can’t get out.
Ramsey Russell: Did you have to cope with panic? Because I’m sitting here thinking I’d be panicking, most of us would be just freaking terror would take over.
Kyle Grant: It hit for like a split second and then, once I realized I couldn’t get out and there was nothing I could do on my own to get out, the panic kind of went away because it wasn’t in my control anymore and I realized it wasn’t. And so I said, okay, well, what can I control? I can breathe and I can stay alive and I can be here as long as I can be here, I’ll just lay under this box until someone gets me out, that’s my job now. And so it went from, I need to get myself out to my job is just staying alive and enduring this. I just got to keep going. And I don’t know how long it was, but I started praying and man, I’ve got some young kids, they’re not all of them are that young anymore. But at the time my kids were, I think they were 6, no I had a 7 year old, a 6 year old and a one year old and he had just turned one. And I remember thinking like God, I think I’m supposed to still be a dad, like I think I’m supposed to still be a husband, I don’t think this is the end. I mean, it could be and you could take me now, but I just think you have more for me. And so I think you’re going to get me out, I know you can, I remember saying that, I know you can get me out, I don’t know if you will because that’s up to you and I don’t know what your plan is, but I know you can. And so I’m asking you, please do it, let me do my part and please do yours because I don’t think I’m done here, I think you still have work for me here. And after a little bit of time I heard Casey, he screamed my name and then he started yelling, oh God, no and I’m sure he thought I was dead. And talking to him later, he was in the truck and he’s asleep in the front seat of the truck passed out and he kind of jerked, did one of those kicks when you’re like almost asleep, your body jerks and he did that and he thought, man, that’s my stand, I can’t let my buddy finish putting my stand up, I need to go out there and help him and get this thing done and he gets out and he sees the stand on the ground, he’s like son of a gun, Kyle, what did you do? Why is the stand on the ground? We’re almost done, I left for just a little bit to take a nap and you knock my stand over, what’s up with that? And he got closer and he said he could see my legs sticking out from under it just like my feet coming out, almost like a Wicked Witch of the West, feet sticking out and that’s when he started screaming and as he started screaming, I was like, okay, thanks God, like you did your part, I don’t know what we’re going to do now, but I at least have a chance now. And he came over and he lifted that stand up, I don’t know how he did it, but he lifted it up just a little bit and he’s yelling, crawl out and I’m trying and I’m like, I can’t, I don’t know why, but I can’t crawl out and he sets it back down on me and I was like, oh, like I could breathe for a little bit and then you just drop it back down on me and he comes around to the side and he squats down and lifts this thing up from one side of it and sets it on his legs right above his knee. So he sets it on his knees and then drops all the way down, gets under it and presses and pushes the stand and rolls it off of me. And at the time I was just like, that’s awesome, thank you. I tell you that the next day, Justin and Chase two of our other buddies went over and tried to roll it back over before they stood it up and they’re like, it’s not moving.
Ramsey Russell: And they’re big boys.
Kyle Grant: And they’re big. Yeah, I mean, Casey is a big guy, Justin’s a big guy, Chase is a big, I’m the smallest by far, these are all stout boys and they couldn’t move it and they end up getting the skid steer over to stand it up finally. But he rolled it off me and then it was kind of a waiting game, it was a waiting game.
Ramsey Russell: I mean, then what? Because you talk about the middle of nowhere, that part of the world that you all are in is still in the middle of nowhere.
Kyle Grant: It’s probably better being hurt where I was there. But instead of here, but yeah, we’re middle of nowhere, South Texas now, they had a couple of things going for us. One is, there’s a full-time ranch manager on there that lives on the ranch and he had, phone numbers to border patrol, he had phone numbers to National Guard, he had phone numbers to basically first responders that worked on the oil rigs down there. So there’s a bunch of oil production down there and a lot of those crews have someone who with some medical training in case something goes wrong. So he got border patrol there and like I said, we’re 15, 20 miles from the river, so border patrol is down there all the time and they see a lot of sick people, a lot of hurt people trying to cross that, I mean, people are coming, I mean, we know people are coming across, it’s in the news all the time. But I mean, they are and it’s 100 something degrees and a lot of these people coming across are in jeans and tennis shoes and a sweatshirt, and they run out of water or they get lost or something. So the border patrol sees a lot of people in need of help. And our ranch manager, Bubba, he got border patrol there, he got National Guard there and we got a first responder off of one of the oil rigs there and they start an IV on me and one of them, I don’t know who, but one of them said he can’t go in an ambulance to Laredo, he needs a chopper and he needs to go to San Antonio to a level one trauma center, a real hospital and they had the ability to get someone over there. We didn’t have the ability to get a chopper, we just had the ability to call 911 and then try to drop a pin and hope an ambulance could find us in the middle of nowhere. And so I laid there about two hours and just baking, just cooking out there on that, no shade, it was miserable. And obviously, I was in a lot of pain and my buddy Justin would take water out of the cooler and just dump water on me trying to keep me cool and we finally a chopper showed up and they look and at that point I was like, okay, I’m going to be okay, like I’m going to live through this.
Ramsey Russell: Did the helicopter land kind of on site?
Kyle Grant: Oh, man, it dropped down right in between the feed pins, right in front of the stand. I mean, because there are certain like helicopter landing pads on the ranch just because of all the oil field and like they came and dropped like 20 yards from us in the middle of the South Texas brush and just landed in there and came and got me and put me on that chopper. So that was a really good feeling, hearing that chopper finally coming in, I was like, okay, we made it, I mean, I didn’t realize the road, in front of there at the time, but just for that day that seemed like we had won just to make it from being under a stand, not being able to move to get out to, they loading me in a helicopter and I felt like I could stop, I could let it, I could put it in someone else’s hands at that point, now I don’t have to talk and I don’t have to get whoever here, they’re going to take me and take care of me.
Ramsey Russell: What then? Because you were telling a story about them loading you in the helicopter, you’re in a lot of discomfort. No idea. Nobody had any idea at this point, what was discombobulated. You were just in a lot of pain and a lot of different places, now they had to get you on this medevac helicopter.
Kyle Grant: Yeah, so I couldn’t put my leg straight, I couldn’t move my legs, I didn’t know I was paralyzed at the time, but I couldn’t straighten them out, it hurt too bad to have them straight. So I had my knees up in the air and she said, hey, we got to put your knees down to fit in this helicopter because you’ve got to kind of like slide in this tube and where your spot is and said, I think your femur’s broken and maybe your hip and I got to flatten you out and you’re not going to want to remember it. She said, do you mind if I Roofy you, so you don’t remember it? And I was like, absolutely not. You give me whatever you need to give me to make this better like I trust you. And so anyway, that was the last thing I remembered getting on the chopper and then I woke up in San Antonio with no clothes on.
Ramsey Russell: That’s a pretty good haul from where you are.
Kyle Grant: It is. They had to stop on the way, I think they flew all the way from San Antonio to get me and then on the way back, they had to stop and refuel, they were low on fuel and then got me up to Brook Army Medical Center.
Ramsey Russell: You mentioned it’s a long road to hope and borrowing from my own past experience, the ambulance ride in at that point, you really have no idea just how long that road, you don’t imagine at that point because now I’m in a better place, but you can’t see that road stretching all the way to the horizon or beyond.
Kyle Grant: I had no idea what was coming after that. In my mind for the day, like, I had been saved. Everyone got me on that helicopter, got me to the hospital like he’ll be fine now and they took me in for surgery right away, I did get to see my wife before –
Ramsey Russell: Where do you all live from there? Like you went to San Antonio, how far away was she?
Kyle Grant: She was about 3 hours away, she had all the kids and when I was laying on the ground, my buddy Justin was like, do you want me to call Shannon? And I said yes. And I said, wait, no, I said, call her dad and tell her dad and ask him to go tell her and be there because she’s not going to – I mean, she got three kids, young kids that she’s taken care of and at this time it’s 6 or 7 at night and so I don’t, I was like, no –
Ramsey Russell: Busy time at night for the mama.
Kyle Grant: Busy time at night, so Justin called her dad and her parents lived an hour away from where we lived and they both immediately jumped in the car and drove up there and told her, he said, are you home? He called her and said, are you home? She said, yeah, he said, okay, we’re coming to see you. She said later, she thought, boy, that’s weird, I wonder at 7 o’clock at night, why are they coming to see me? And I was grateful that they were there and were able to do that because she had a really hard time hearing that and not knowing where I am, they didn’t know if they were taking me to Laredo or if I was going to be in San Antonio, do they need to start driving in one direction or it’s kind of, you get to them the same way if you drive or if they need to go hop on a plane. So her dad came in and he said, hey, I got some news and she started crying immediately and said, dad, what’s wrong? Just tell me and they call me KG, he said KG’s okay, he’s alive but he’s hurt, he got hurt and he’s going to be okay, but we got to figure out where he’s going and my mother-in-law stayed and watched the kids and my wife and her dad got in the car and ended up driving to San Antonio. So, I was really fortunate she got there before they took me in for the first surgery and I got to see her and I’ve done some stupid stuff in my life in my younger days. Yeah, probably everyone listening to this and she got there and I just remember apologizing, I was like, I’m sorry, I didn’t do anything wrong. Like, I swear I didn’t like we were being safe, I wasn’t doing anything stupid and I just apologizing to her over and over and she’s crying saying it’s okay.
Ramsey Russell: It must have been pretty emotional for both of you.
Kyle Grant: It was. Because I didn’t know if I was going to see her again laying under the stand, I thought I was, but I wasn’t sure, if I was and I felt like I’d let her down just being hurt, being there making her having to leave the kids and drive 3 hours to come see me, I was like, man, I’m not doing very good at this husband and dad thing right now and that sounds irrational but at the time, I felt like I had let her down, I just apologizing over and over. But yeah, I got to see her before I went in and the so they went in and I’m really not sure everything they did, but I broke 4 vertebrae, your lumbar vertebrae or your lowest vertebrae, you have 5 of them and I broke L1, L2, L4 and L5, so I broke four of the five, I broke my ankle, I broke four ribs, I think my hip was dislocated but a lot of the stuff they didn’t care about, they were just worried about my back. And so they went in and I guess they did like a spinal decompression surgery, tried to try to separate it. I know L1 and L5 were both, they call them a burst fracture, I call it a step on a cheerio fracture. Imagine, like Cheerios on the ground, you step on it and it just like shatters in a bunch of pieces and so it’s not like one line broken. And so they had to go in and like, pull those, I know they got the pieces out that had like broken off and they worked on me for 8 or 9 hours and I guess they said, we got to sew him up and take a break. And so they did and I remember waking up and I was okay after that one, I mean, I’m in terrible shape but I’m alive and cognizant and able to communicate and everything. And I was so thirsty, man. We’ve been working in 100° weather all day and they didn’t let me drink anything before the first surgery when I got there and I felt like I’d just been chewing on cotton and they said you have to wait a certain amount of time before we can let you have anything. And Wade had actually, he had brought me some grape Propel and that’s all I wanted. I wanted grape Propel and I’m looking at the clock, I’m just counting down in 40 minutes I get to drink my grape Propel and they come in, the nurse comes in and says good news, the doctor is back and can take you into surgery again, we’re going to get you prepped and you’re going to go into surgery. And I said, well, in 40 minutes I get to drink my grape Propel, right? She’s like, oh, no, you can’t have anything before surgery. And I was like, oh, I’m not doing the surgery then, her jaw dropped. She’s like, no, you have to do the surgery and I was like no, I ain’t doing it, like I’m drinking my grape Propel. And that was all I wanted. I was like, man, screw everything else, I just want my grape Propel, that’s it, everyone else leave me alone. And she looks at my wife, she’s like, can we talk? So she took her in the hall, she was like, hey, he has to go back in, I need your help. And so long story shorter they came in and they convinced me that I needed to have the surgery and I don’t remember who, but someone was in the room with me and I’m paralyzed laying in bed, I can’t even reach my grape Propel if I wanted to. And someone handed it to me right as the nurse left and I took that bottle top off and I started chugging that grape Propel as fast as I could. And she came back in while she was yelling at me. She says, put that down, you can’t drink that and I was like, okay, here it is, I chucked half that bottle.
Ramsey Russell: I bet it was the best one you ever had.
Kyle Grant: It was so good. It tasted so good.
Ramsey Russell: It sounds like you’re just on a hospital TV show that lasts an hour, you’re talking, you’re cognizant, you’re drinking grape Propel, had you coated at that point?
Kyle Grant: No, so after the –
Ramsey Russell: Because I mean, what I’m trying to say, you’re still in a precarious situation.
Kyle Grant: Oh, yeah. My body’s not doing well, I’m not good, we’re already exhausted and dehydrated before this ever started. And so I go into the second surgery, it’s supposed to be a two hour surgery, they’re supposed to be putting the screws and the rods in and kind of just like finalizing everything up, the heavy lifting has already been done and they get in there and their imaging machine breaks to where they can’t see where the vertebrae are and obviously you don’t want to put the screw in in the wrong place and hit the spinal cord, so they usually use that from what I understand, I’m not a doctor, but from what they told me, they use the imaging equipment to place the screws. And so I’m out, I’m under anesthesia, I’m opened up already again, I’m already in really bad shape and they can’t get the imaging equipment to work. They try to get it to work for 3 or 4 hours while I’m under and couldn’t get it to work. And I got flown to Brook Army Medical Center, which is the military hospital in San Antonio. Basically Brooke Army and Walter Reed are the two places within the States, they’re the two of the main hospitals in the States and this is 2016, we’re on the kind of end of the latter part of the war on terror where they’ve seen a lot of guys and girls my age for coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and the doctor said, you know what, I’ve had to do this on a kitchen table in Afghanistan before. Like, I don’t need the imaging equipment will just do it. And I’m grateful he did. So he puts the screws in which they were great to this day, he did a great job doing it. Sewed me back up and tried to get me back out and I’m not coming out of anesthesia. Well, they’ve got the breathing tube in me, I’m all swollen, my heart rate is high, my blood pressure is low and they keep bringing me out and man, I don’t know if it was your accident, if they ever had that breathing tube in you while you were awake, that’s terrible. It’s like someone gives you a coffee straw and holds you underwater and tells you to breathe and I didn’t know what was going on. I’m waking up from all this trauma and I can’t breathe and I got people’s hands on me and I feel like I got to fight to get this thing out of me and breathe. And so I’m ripping IV lines out, I put up quite a fight for a paralyzed person from what I understand. And they keep putting me back under, they’ve got me handcuffed or strapped to the bed and putting me back under, waking me up, putting me back under and they finally bring my wife in and have her talk to me as they bring me back out trying to calm me down and everything. And she did calm me down enough and they said, hey, we’ll take this out, this breathing tube about 30-40 minutes, something like that, some amount of time, if you can stay calm, the whole amount of time, you have to keep your heart rate down and get everything working the way it’s supposed to before they’ll pull it out, they won’t pull it out. And I finally said, okay, and I’m looking at her and I go, hey, I’m paralyzed and she goes, I know it’s going to be okay. And I said, no, like my arms, I can’t move my arms. And she said, no, it’s just your legs, remember, you can move your arms and I go, no, I’m serious, I can’t move my arms and she picks one of my arms up and drops it and it just drops down and hits me. And I’m like, I’m serious, I think like, I’m fully paralyzed now, I’m done and she’s talking to the – she’s calling for the nurse like, hey, something’s wrong and she kind of comes back and I said, hey, I’m leaving, she goes, where are you going? And I coded flat line.
It felt like my body was no longer a part of me like it felt like my, whether you call it your spirit, your soul, your brain, in my head –
Ramsey Russell: You were cognizant of it.
Kyle Grant: I was like, I’m about to leave.
Ramsey Russell: Were you fading? I mean, can you describe that?
Kyle Grant: It felt like my body was no longer a part of me like it felt like my, whether you call it your spirit, your soul, your brain, in my head –
Ramsey Russell: Flipping off the switches, that’s why your arm wasn’t moving.
Kyle Grant: It was flipping switches off and I was slowly leaving and in my mind I knew like I was leaving this body, which at the time was okay with me. I mean, I hurt so bad and I mean, I felt trapped, I felt trapped in this body that didn’t work and I was like, man, if it’s not going to work, I might as well leave and I didn’t try to leave, but when it happened, I didn’t – I was like, okay, I’m going. And so anyway, I flat lined and they come and they bring me back and I wouldn’t say I was like, necessarily like floating above me, but I felt like my soul left my body and I remember that and all the pain went away and it was okay, I was at peace with it all. And they brought me back and then I was trapped back in that body again, man, I was mad. I was mad being in that body again, I mean, not only mad, maybe that’s the wrong word, I was like defeated, I felt defeated, I felt like –
Ramsey Russell: Imprisoned.
Kyle Grant: Yeah, like, I got to come back into this thing.
Ramsey Russell: But now you had to hold that rope.
Kyle Grant: Yeah. And yeah, I was like God said, no, I’m not done with you, it’s not your time yet, you still got stuff to do here. And I mean, today, we’re sitting here in Argentina duck hunting 6 years later, I probably shouldn’t have lived through any of it. I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk afterwards and here we are on day two, figuring out how I can stand in marsh mud and shoot ducks and I shouldn’t be able to do this, I’m grateful for it.
Ramsey Russell: It was easy to let go because you were in a lot of pain.
Kyle Grant: Yes.
Ramsey Russell: And you were powerless.
Kyle Grant: Yes.
Ramsey Russell: But they didn’t let you go.
Kyle Grant: No.
Ramsey Russell: At what point were you in that body as you describe it that the fighter came back? Can you remember it? When did you say, oh, hell no, I’m not letting go.
Kyle Grant: It was around day 6 or day 7 and my heart stopping there wasn’t me quitting, that was my body quitting. My body had said we’ve had enough like we can’t take this anymore, we’re done, my body quit that day and my mind quit on day 6, like I quit on day 6 and I was on so many pain meds, so many opiates, I wasn’t sleeping like, I mean, I’m sure you understand this, you don’t sleep, you pass out from the pain and the drugs for a while and then wake back up, but it’s not sleep. So I haven’t slept in 5 days, 6 days, something like that. And pain’s terrible, I’m on all these opiates and I was seeing stuff crawling on walls, I was having hallucinations and from all the meds and lack of sleep and everything. And my wife had a miscarriage 4 months before my accident and I woke up, it was not a dream, it was a night terror, it was terrible. I had a dream that I believed that our baby was not in my wife, it was in my one year old son and I had to get him out and in my dream, I take a knife and I cut my one year old son open, looking for my child. And I finally come to and realize, hey, this is wrong, like there’s no baby in here and I look down and I see it to this day, I look down, my hands are covered in blood of my one year old son and in my dream and I just woke up screaming, woke up crying and I just said, I’m done, kill me and I’m looking for a way to kill myself because not only am I trapped in this body, but I realize just how like how useless I am and now I’m feeling like I’m a danger to my family and I’m just thinking like they’re going to be so much better off without me. Like my wife can just go home and she doesn’t have to stay in this hospital room with me and sleep in this chair every night and like, no one’s going to have to take care of me. And I mean, I’m looking for something to kill myself with and I’ve realized like, I’m so helpless, I can’t even do that. I’m stuck in this bed like I can’t even kill myself. And then I realized even if I do, they’re just going to bring me back again and it’s going to hurt more than it did before, I’m just going to hurt more and they’re going to bring me back. And man, that was the lowest I’ve ever been in my life at that moment and I’m just crying and screaming in the bed and my wife came over and started praying for me and talking to me and we worked that whole day just on my mental side of it. My wife, I had friends there, I had multiple friends there, I had a great support group of people that showed up for me, man. Because man, if I’d been left by myself with those thoughts and everything that would have – I’m not sure I would have come out of it as well as I did. And we worked through it the whole day and by the end of the day, I was like, okay, like, we’re going to do this. And so really from that day forward, I mean, there’s always setbacks along the way, there’s always times where you’re like, is it worth it or I don’t want to work this hard anymore to get it. But after day 6 at no point did I mentally give up again, after that day, it was time to try to get out of that hospital bed.
Refusing to Let Go
That’s when you’re feeling better, but you realize you ain’t yet what you are. It’s a whole another emotional battle.
Ramsey Russell: How long were you in the hospital?
Kyle Grant: I was in Brook Army for a month and then they sent me up to Dallas to do inpatient rehab for two months after that.
Ramsey Russell: That ain’t no fun.
Kyle Grant: No, the rehab is no fun.
Ramsey Russell: That’s when you’re feeling better, but you realize you ain’t yet what you are. It’s a whole another emotional battle.
Kyle Grant: Absolutely. It was like I went back to being an infant trying to learn how to go to the bathroom again, trying to learn how to get out of bed and just get from a bed to a wheelchair, trying to learn how to put my own clothes on. I mean, it took me weeks to figure out how to put clothes on, get out of bed, get in a wheelchair. And I will say one of the nurses, I had one of the night nurses in the ICU room because I’m asking everyone, I’m like, hey, am I going to walk again? And so I have a spinal cord injury, it’s not just that I broke my back, the bones have healed on breaking my back, but when it broke it damaged the spinal cord and so imagine like an electrical wire that all the signals from your brain go to muscles in your body, tell them to fire and then also sensations come from your body back through that same process to tell your brain, hey, this hurts or you’re touching something or any sort of feeling. And so my spinal cord is damaged in multiple places and that damage can be complete or incomplete. Complete means the cord is severed and when it’s severed, no signals pass through there, we have not figured out how to reconnect a spinal cord at this point. And so if your injury is complete, you are completely paralyzed below your injury level. So any nerves that branch off underneath that break, you’ll have no movement and no feeling for the most part in those areas. And if the injury is incomplete, it means the cords just mangled.
Ramsey Russell: Like one of them headphones where you get it just right and you only get one instead of two.
Kyle Grant: Yeah. So some signals pass through and some don’t. And so originally there’s so much swelling on me that no signals could pass through and with time, some of the signals started coming through and it hurts, man when they start coming through because your brain, it’s not coming through the same way it used to and your brain’s interpreting that as pain because something’s wrong, it’s interpreting as this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be and it hurts, it hurts like a son of a gun as they start coming back. But on day 4, I’m asking everyone, am I going to walk again? What do I do to walk again? How do I get out of this bed? And no one could tell me and they’d all say, well, we don’t know, we’ll find out and we’ll just have to see, you got to wait and it’s frustrating me like you’re a doctor, you do this for a living, I don’t know anything about this, someone tell me someone give me an answer and one of the nurses asked him, he said, none of them can tell you, no one can tell you, no one knows right now, if it’s severed all the way or if it’s not, no one knows every one of these injuries is a little different. The spinal cord is the way our body moves is such a complex mechanism, we don’t know exactly everything that was damaged there and we won’t know what time. And he said, but I can tell you this, the people that get out of this bed are the ones that want to get out of this bed. If you don’t want to get out of this bed, you’ll never get out of this bed, whether that spinal cord severed or not. And I said, well, I want it. He said, then you have a chance and that’s all I can tell you and that’s all they can tell you. And so between me getting past on day 6, the giving up and those night tears and everything and realizing that no one was going to be able to tell me how it was going to work and all I could do was try, wake up and try every day and see what would happen. And as I learned more about it, a doctor said you have 6 to 12 months for the spinal cord to heal and we don’t fully understand it, we don’t understand exactly why it heals sometimes or how it’s going to heal or anything like that. But we know that after 6 months the chances of you regaining movement or feeling, drop way down and after a year it drops way down. And so after a year, it’s not a guarantee, but most likely nothing’s going to come back after a year. And so we basically, I’m in the hospital, I’m in rehab and then come home and we kind of had a decision to make. I mean, I’m a small business owner, I’m running multiple companies, I have kids, I got a busy life, I got a lot of stuff to do and we kind of had to make the decision of, hey, we’re going to put everything on hold and I ended up walking away from work, from my companies.
Ramsey Russell: And as a business owner, as a human being the not knowing is freaking – it’ll drive you mad. Nobody knows.
Kyle Grant: And no one could tell me.
Ramsey Russell: You’re fighting a fight but nobody knows what you’re fighting for.
Kyle Grant: Exactly. And we just made a decision, hey, we’re going to give it a year and we’re going to do whatever we can to do physical therapy to do to try whatever we can and after a year, if I still can’t walk, that’s okay, I can’t walk. But I knew that I couldn’t go back to work and try to work and try to do all the things and then later in life be like, oh, I want to try to walk again, it’d be too late. So, we walked away from everything and we eventually flew out to California, there was a cash pay place out there called Project Walk at the time. And they just focused on – they did nothing but some sort of neural injury. So whether it’s people that had a stroke and trying to learn how to walk again or spinal cord injuries or some sort of neural problem. And so we went there and we spent three months in California, pulled the kids out of school, my wife home schooled them, I mean, we needed that time too to heal as a family because my kids basically didn’t see me for 3 months.
Ramsey Russell: I was just fixing to ask you day 6, you’re rocky in the 25th round, your wife and your friends gather in the corner and push you back out into the ring, you come out fighting. I was going to ask you how long it was before you saw your kids because you’ve mentioned them, you were under the crushing weight of that deer stand thinking about your kids. When did you first see your children and what was that moment like?
Kyle Grant: It was about two weeks after the accident and it was the first day they got me up out of the bed and into a wheelchair and I was in such bad shape, like I was passing out in the wheelchair just going from laying down to sitting up, it was too much for my body to handle, my blood pressure was dropping and so they were reclining me in this wheelchair, like almost doing a wheelie with me in the wheelchair trying to get me back and we waited a while because man, my face looked so bad and my face hit the ground, my head was all like, it wasn’t the same shape it used to be. It’s weird. It went back to the shape. It used to be now, but I was in bad shape, man. I look like I just got out of the 25th round of a boxing match and my wife didn’t want my kids to see me that way. And anyway, we finally get down there and I’m on the verge of passing out and they come in and my daughter thought I was dead because people from the church were bringing casseroles and food to us and my wife was on, like the bereavement team at our church. And so my daughter knew that when people died, you make a casserole for them and you take them food and everyone’s bringing us food and she hasn’t seen dad in two weeks. And so everyone’s telling her I’m alive, but she’s like, no dad’s dead, I know he’s dead. And so they finally said no, we got to get the kids there, so they can actually see him. I tried to be strong because I want them to see that, hey, dad’s okay, like dad’s going to make it and everything. But man, I stayed strong while they were there and then when they left, I got up to the room and just started crying. And at this point, my wife had gone home to be with the kids and she wasn’t there anymore. So seeing them all was so amazing and then when they all left, it was so crushing.
Ramsey Russell: Like I was on the other side, I was the child 16, 15 and I can remember seeing my dad, my uncle and my grandmother and people coming by and I cried when I saw them, I can’t explain why I felt like I felt, I felt like some – but I’m thinking as being a dad one year old children, I can just imagine him running down the hall screaming glad to see dad man jumping up on a wheelchair and hugging her like nothing had changed, you were their dad man, they had their hands on you again.
Kyle Grant: They were nervous seeing me, like it was almost the opposite, like they didn’t want to touch me. Like my face looks so bad, I’d been beat up and they see me in this wheelchair and they’re like, oh, if we touch him, we’re going to break him and so they really, unfortunately they did it that first time and that was hard too. Now, a couple of weeks later once they got there and I looked a little better and I’m doing better, yeah, like my one year old’s climbing up in my lap in the wheelchair and we’re rolling around the hospital together and stuff and it was awesome then. But man, that first time seeing them was hard.
The Climb: Learning New Ways
The secret is you don’t have to do it the way everyone else does it.
Ramsey Russell: You’re on the road to recovery and you were saying the other night about you were meeting with people, people were giving you life advice. Can you talk about that a little bit? All the advice you got because you’re learning new ways, you’re emerging out of a new cocoon into a new butterfly wing, so to speak. What was that like? And what was some of the advice? And what was the climb like?
Kyle Grant: Yeah. So they bring in some peer or they offer you peer support and I wanted it, I wanted it bad. I want someone who had been in this chair before because I’m talking to doctors and nurses and none of them have spinal cord injuries. They’re telling me what I need to do and what’s going to happen, but they don’t actually understand it. And so, a guy came in and they knew I was a hunter, they knew I was a fisherman and this guy was a fisherman even after his accident and to me that seemed like impossible, absolutely impossible. I can’t even get out of bed, I can’t even put my clothes on, how am I going to go fishing? And so this guy comes in, I’m wanting to know how do you do it? Tell me all the secrets. And he’s like, well, we just hook the boat up and back the boat down and go get in the boat and go fishing, you know what I’m saying? And he keeps saying, you know what I’m saying? I’m like, no I don’t know what you’re saying. I have no clue what you’re saying, like, give me the steps and you let the winch out a little bit so it’ll float and back it in, then you get out and get in your wheelchair and roll down and tie it up, unhook it and get in the boat and go fishing. And I’m like, but wait, I’m wanting to know every step of the process, like give me the secret, what’s the secret to get out of here? And he kept saying, just do it, you know what I’m saying? I mean, after every sentence, he’d say, you know what I’m saying? And I’m like, no, I have no clue and I’m getting frustrated at this point because I’m wanting him to give me the recipe of how I get out here, how I have my own boat, my own truck, I mean, even driving at this point, how do you drive with your legs not working and then to go, get in a boat by yourself, run the boat, fish, not die, come back, get the boat hooked back up that’s hard for an able-bodied person to do by themselves. Most time you got multiple guys doing that job and he just kept saying, just do it, you know what I’m saying? And he left that day and I was frustrated with that conversation. And 6 years later I realized how true that is, you just do it. Like there’s a way to do it and your way is going to be different than it used to be and your way is going to be different than anyone else’s and you’ve got to figure it out and we got to see it in the duck hunting here, I got here and I was like, I have no idea how to go stand in a marsh with partially paralyzed legs, some muscles work, some don’t, I can kind of stand, I walk like a drunk penguin and I’m going to go stand in mud and try to shoot these teal that are whipping by at 40 miles an hour.
Ramsey Russell: One of the able bodied client today was in a blind, I’ve hunted and he was talking about, he almost fell over just like I did. The guy had to grab it because my body moved but my feet stuck to that, it grabbed me. But so the secret is what, adapt and overcome?
Kyle Grant: The secret is you don’t have to do it the way everyone else does it. I’m slower than everyone else, I’m slower than my kids, they’re all faster than me, as soon as they could walk, they’re faster than I am. And I’ve had to realize the way the world does something or the way everyone else does something isn’t the way I do it, I got to find a way that works for me and until I find it, I’m going to be frustrated with it because it’s not going to work. But then once I figure out how to do it, then shoot, I shot a lot of birds over the last two days and I come in here, I had no idea if I was going to be able to do this or not, but I’ve always wanted to come here to Argentina and I’m not getting any younger. And this broken body I have is really strong right now for what it is. And as I get older, it’s going to be harder and harder to keep that strength. And so really on all these hunts that I’m going on, I’ve been on a lot of cool hunts since I got hurt.
Ramsey Russell: You have been. Can you elaborate a little bit because from being where you were, what we’ve just heard, just some of the stuff you’ve done coming to Rio Salado is a cakewalk.
Kyle Grant: Well, getting here is a cakewalk, that mud’s not a cakewalk, that mud’s tough. But yeah, man, I’ve been to Africa twice now, big game hunting. I’ve been to Mexico for mule deer, I’ve been to New Mexico, I shot a shot a 330inch elk in New Mexico on public land, that’s a whole different story, that’s an amazing story too. I had to hike about two miles to get this animal.
Ramsey Russell: What was it like hiking up those mountains, because you walk with the sticks.
Kyle Grant: Yeah, sticks. And anything with an incline and anything with mud is my kryptonite and like the flat ground of Africa was pretty easy being able to stalk the planes game and some of the stuff out there like I could do that pretty easily. But mountains man, that was tough. And we saw a bull on day 4 of a 5 day hunt at last light and we didn’t have time to try to get to him. So day 5, we came out and we thought where he was going to come over this ridge into this bull is about two miles away. And I told the guy, hey, I can’t go hike every day, but if we find one, I’ll give it everything to get there and go kill him. But like, you can’t wear me out every day looking for him, we got to find him first. And so he said, I think he’s going to come out same place. And so we took off after lunch, hiked about two miles in up to the top of this bull got set up over this whole bull range every part of this bull, I know how far it is everywhere and I’m ready for him to come out and it took about 2.5 hours to get in there that two miles for me, I mean, I know that’s not far for most people but it was a lot for me and we have another guide down below on the spotting scope and he’s looking and we hear him on the radio, he goes, hey, good news, I see your bull, we’re looking around, we’re like, where is he? He goes, bad news is he came out two bulls over to the south of you and we got 30 minutes left before last light, it’s my last day of my hunt and he goes, you think you can make it? And I said no, but I know I can’t sit here like we got to try. I was like, I don’t think we can make it, but I’m not okay, not trying for it. I came this far and so we pack up and we get going and it’s shale rock, it’s terrible footing, it’s side slope going uphill and I’m exhausted and my guide gets behind me, grabs my bag, he says we’re not going to make it, we got to go faster. I was like I can’t go any faster, that’s all I got. And he grabs my bag from behind me, he lifts me up and starts pushing me up the mountain. And so I’m literally on these hiking poles on my arms, that’s all that’s supporting me. He’s got my feet up off the ground, this grizzly bear of a man and he’s just pushing me up, I’m going as fast as I can with my arms. And I’m like, if I don’t go fast enough, I’m going to end up on my face because he’s pushing me up this hill and we’d go for a while and be like, hold on, stop, I need a breath. Anyway, we make it up to a ridge and we can see where the elk are and I can’t even stand up, he puts the trigger sticks down and I’m holding on to the trigger sticks leaning against it just trying not to fall down, I’m so tired and we find this elk is 550 yards away, screaming, going back and forth, there’s cows, there’s satellite bulls trying to figure out which the right one is. And he’s like, you got to shoot it. And I’m like, man, like off sticks on the side of a mountain, I can’t even breathe, I can’t even stand I’m not going to hit this thing, but it was also the last day and we had made it this far. And anyway, I send the first one, miss, send the second one, miss, send the third one and from 550 yards away you hear it just smack and this bull just drops and starts rolling down the mountain and I drop the gun and I’m like, we did it and I mean, we’re hugging, we’re hollering, we’re whooping on the side of a mountain, he’s holding me up, I’m trying not to fall down and I mean, just overwhelmed with joy and we hear the radio and the guy goes, hey, he got back up and we go what? And we’re trying to find him, it’s too dark now and he finally goes off in anyways. He’s like, we just got to get off the mountain. So it went from, I don’t think I can do it to, oh my gosh, how did we even get here, we did it and like we put him down, like overwhelmed with joy, jubilation, everything, to he stood back up and walked off and just like, oh man. But I went to bed that night knowing like I gave it everything I had, gave it absolutely everything I had and I didn’t have anything to be upset about or hang my head about. And we went up the next day on horses and we found him, he was right there and I mean, dream elk, public land in New Mexico as a paraplegic and got up there and got it done. It was awesome.
The Struggle that Leads to Perspective
I used to think I needed all these things, all this success and I realize I don’t need that now.
Ramsey Russell: Casey, you’re a husband, you’re a father, you’re a business owner, you’re a hunter, how have these life changes then versus now made you a better person, a better human being. And I know it was a long battle, I know you’re still struggling, how has it made you a better human being?
Kyle Grant: Give me perspective, a completely different perspective, give me gratitude, I mean, don’t get me wrong there are days I struggle, I’m sure you have days too where you struggle, whether it’s mentally or emotionally or physically, but for the most part, just the perspective, I used to think I needed all these things, all this success and I realize I don’t need that now. Like God’s given me another chance to be alive, to be here, to be with my kids, to be a dad, to be a husband, a lot of the things I used to get upset about, they don’t upset me anymore. It’s not as important as it used to be. And I also, I mean, it’s driven me too realizing that there’s going to come a time where we don’t get to do this anymore, whether that’s our bodies aren’t cooperating or whether God decides it’s our time to go, it can happen at any time. And so, I mean, really just when opportunities come up, that I get to – I just try to take them if it’s the right opportunity and something I want to do and something I’ve always wanted to do or even something to make other people better, I want to pour into other people too and help them. I love seeing other people fulfill their goals and their dreams and I guess I’ve really gotten from – I’m kind of to a point, like I want to chase all my dreams and do all these things I’ve wanted to do and I’ve gotten to do so many of them, like I want to help other people chase theirs.
Ramsey Russell: Feeling like a second chance did that compel you to that?
Kyle Grant: Absolutely.
Ramsey Russell: Because that’s one of the things I take away from my injuries is I don’t think I would have been compelled to do a lot of the stuff I’ve done with my life had I not been on a second chance. And it’s like, if I could go back, I would only go back to then if I had the gift of knowing how precious it is time and to live life like I do now, if that makes sense.
Kyle Grant: Absolutely. I mean, I’m grateful for where I am today. I’m incredibly grateful for where I am today, I don’t ever want to go through what I went through again, I want to wish that on anyone but I’m grateful for the person I am today and it would have been different if the accident hadn’t happened, I would have been a different person.
Ramsey Russell: Kyle, thank you for sitting in this afternoon and sharing your story.
Kyle Grant: I appreciate it.
Ramsey Russell: No, I really do and I know everybody else listening is thankful they’ve heard it too. Folks, life ain’t easy and easy sure ain’t guaranteed. Battle scars are just kind of part of the deal and I call bullshit anyone that says or thinks otherwise. The secret to adversity is just do it, you know what I mean? Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.