CamoTherapy: flat tires
Andy Hahn 07.25.13
Of all the places I’ve been fortunate to hunt, Argentina’s La Pampa province has proven the harshest on my wheelchair by far. I first went there in 2005, before experiencing any mobility problems, and enjoyed an exciting hunt for red stag in the caldén thickets.
When I returned to La Pampa in 2010 I obviously couldn’t sneak through the heavy cover in my wheelchair to stalk stags, so my guide, Carlos Martinez, set up ground blinds overlooking food plots. We hunted at night, which is legal in Argentina, and took a thick-beamed 5×5 by the light of the full moon. On our way back to Rio from that hunt, my wheelchair’s left tire went flat while waiting for our connecting flight in the Buenos Aires airport. No choice but to limp home, riding the rim, and slap a patch on the tube the next day.
In April 2011 I was back in La Pampa. The stags didn’t cooperate so we switched our focus to wild boars—again, hunting at night from ground blinds. Halfway through the week my left tire deflated, but it was no surprise because after each trip afield my aide Ivson had to remove the very sharp and very abundant burrs that the Argentines so eloquently call “rosetas” from his boots and pants, and from my tires. My gracious hosts injected Fix-a-Flat in the tire to no avail. (I’ve since learned that Fix-a-Flat is designed to mend tubeless tires only; the instructions say the product isn’t for use on inner tubes.) When we got home we found three puncture wounds in the inner tube and decided to simply replace rather than repair it. Kind of like choosing a hip replacement over reconstructive surgery.
I set a new personal record on my trip to La Pampa in April 2012. Both tires got the wind knocked out of ’em on the hunt’s first afternoon! Although I had packed a repair kit, we knew that patching the tubes and trying to keep air in the tires would be an endless exercise in frustration because the rosetas had us vastly outnumbered. I shrugged and accepted the rough ride as part of the adventure. My aide Alex wheeled me around on flats for an exciting five days during which I took two stags and a European boar. The rims and tires were still good when we got home, but both inner tubes were shredded beyond salvation. I will gladly sacrifice two tubes if that’s what it takes to get out and enjoy a hunt.
Several people have suggested getting solid tires for my wheelchair, but I’m not ready to invest in them because: 1) I only go to La Pampa once a year; 2) Inner tubes are cheap; and 3) Rio de Janeiro’s sidewalks are so bumpy that I need the shock absorption of inflated tires to keep my teeth from jarring loose.
Besides, hunting on flats is better than sitting at home on perfect tires.