Tim Anderson wears a cast on his left arm that spans the entire distance of that appendage.
How that cast came to be applied in a Morris, Minn., hospital emergency room might be instructive to deer hunters intent on erecting tree stands in cottonwood trees.
But more instructive, and perhaps more inspirational, is the enthusiasm with which Anderson pursues his outdoor interests — and his life.
With one degree in wildlife management and another in psychology, Anderson guides Alaska sightseers in summer who want to get up-close and personal with humpback whales and sea otters, or who want to catch limits of salmon.
Come fall and winter, Anderson shifts gears — a lot — and toils as an online therapist from his Brainerd-area home: a 30-foot ice-fishing house.
“Last winter my wife, Maria, and I moved the fish house onto a lake, and lived there, but she and her dogs had a little trouble getting used to the ice cracking and heaving,” Anderson said. “But it didn’t bother me.”
The two met six years ago, when, acting on what Anderson describes as a “bucket list sort of thing,” he loaded his truck, camper and boat and drove from Brainerd to Alaska.
It was in Alaska that he met Maria, who owns a bed-and-breakfast called Majestic View in Homer, where Anderson has subsequently established a sightseeing, fishing and hunting guide service similar to one he operated years ago in Minnesota.
Describing the couple’s union, Anderson said, “Maria and I decided to throw in together.”
Growing up in the Brainerd area, Anderson as a kid hunted deer, grouse, pheasants and ducks. He also fished. Now 53, in the intervening years he has lost none of his enthusiasm for wild places and the critters that live there, whether in his home state or in Alaska.
That enthusiasm this fall yielded for Anderson a whitetail buck, as well as limits of ducks and pheasants — the cast on his left arm notwithstanding.
Yet he concedes at times he might be too enthusiastic while afield.
Explaining the mishap that resulted in his broken left arm, he said, “Sometimes my enthusiasm might overcome my common sense.”
Anderson’s accident occurred while bow hunting in October when he attempted to place a ladder stand against a tall cottonwood on a friend’s west-central Minnesota farm.
The farmer was 5 miles away at the time, harvesting crops. He knew where Anderson was, but didn’t expect him back until after dark — meaning he wouldn’t have gone looking for Anderson for hours after the mishap.
Complicating matters, Anderson had forgotten his cellphone, something he virtually never does, especially while hunting alone.
“I was trying to attach the ladder-stand’s brace that connects the stand to the tree about halfway up the length of the stand,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have a ladder, so I was planning to connect the brace while standing on top of the side-by-side ATV I was using.”
Perching himself initially in the pickup-like-bed of the ATV, Anderson, who weighs about 240 pounds, found he wasn’t high enough to connect the brace to the tree.
Seeking still more elevation, he stood on a side rail of the ATV’s pickup-style bed. When that wasn’t high enough, he figured he’d stand on the roof.
“So I grabbed a thick branch of the cottonwood and was going to use it to swing myself up,” he said. “In hindsight, I should have been more careful about trusting a cottonwood branch. I’m more familiar with oaks.”
What exactly happened then is unclear, because in addition to breaking his left arm, Anderson knocked himself out when the cottonwood branch broke and he went flying.
“I think I had one foot on the roof of the ATV when the branch broke,” Anderson said. “I fell backward with my legs hitting the tailgate of the ATV and my head and left shoulder and left arm hitting the ground first.”
Unconscious for an indeterminate period, Anderson initially thought when he awoke that he could continue erecting the stand.
“As I said, I am a go-getter,” he said. “But I had a lot of pain, and while I’ve never broken a bone before, when I looked at my arm, I knew it was broken.”
Worried he might pass out again, Anderson abandoned the stand, his tools and other gear and drove the ATV to his farmer friend’s home.
With luck, he said, the cast will heal the broken bones and surgery won’t be required.
“For a lot of people, with the cast and all, that would end their hunting season,” Anderson said. “But I will not be stopped.”
Aided by his Gordon setter, “Sam Elliott,” and a one-handed semiautomatic shotgun called a Panzer BP-12 Bullpup, Anderson remains enthusiastic.
“The Bullpup has an 18-inch barrel and a pistol grip,” he said. “So I can maneuver it with one arm. Along with Sam Elliott, I’ve shot birds with it while aiming and while shooting from the hip.
“The vast majority of times I miss. But I still get a few.”