Recovery slow, steady

It’s been 97 days since Bubba DePestel accidentally fell 15 feet from his deer stand and landed on his back, yet he continues to recover from his injuries at the Minneota Manor.

His injury list was lengthy — a collapsed lung, fracture of the fourth vertebrae, a fractured right clavicle, a broken scapula, and multiple fractured ribs.

“I was so drugged up that I don’t even remember being (at the hospital) in Marshall,” DePestel said.

After a week stay at the hospital in Marshall, DePestel was transferred to the Sioux Falls Hospital for further treatment. While there, he had surgery that included the insertion of several pins and screws.

DePestel’s condition improved enough after spending a week at the hospital in Sioux Falls that has was able to return to Minneota.

He then became a resident of the Minneota Manor so he can undergo daily physical therapy before he will be able to return to his home. Twice a day for an hour each time DePestel does various exercises to strengthen the muscles in his legs and to improve his balance.

“They have been great here,” he said. “I’m very happy with the care they have given me.”

“I can’t walk very well because my right leg is too weak from lying around so long,” DePestel said recently from his room at the Manor where he has been undergoing physical therapy over the past two months.

DePestel was the longtime businessman in Minneota before selling Bubba’s Bar just over a year ago to a group of investors who turned it into City Hall Bar & Grill.

The Minneota native was hunting from a deer stand he has climbed up and down from “100 times” before without mishap. His sons Luke and Neil, and grandson Alex, were each in separate stands stationed where they weren’t visible to one another.

Around 8 a.m. on Nov. 4, Bubba spotted a buck from his stand, aimed his gun and pulled the trigger.

“I missed him,” DePestel told.

“(The buck) didn’t know where the shot came from and only ran a little ways before stopping.”

That gave DePestel an opportunity for a second shot at the buck.

“I bent down to try and shoot under a tree branch and didn’t position my feet right and was a little off-balance when I shot again,” DePestel explained.

“The gun blast knocked me backwards and I fell out the back of the deer stand.” There was intense pain immediately upon landing on the hard ground.

“At first it felt like I was paralyzed,” DePestel admitted. “And I still had the gun in my hands after I fell.”

“Then I fiddled around to try and get comfortable. I couldn’t get up, but I was happy that I could move my legs.”

DePestel isn’t certain if his second shot struck the buck or not. But he is certain that had he knocked the deer down with the first shot, the situation would have been drastically altered.

“If I had hit it with the first shot, I wouldn’t have fallen,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I wouldn’t have had to take that second shot.”

DePestel was able to reach into his pocket and retrieve his cell phone, calling Luke who was ½-mile away in his deer stand.

“I told him I fell out of the stand and to come and get me,” DePestel remembers.

“He called my other son and grandson and they all came over pretty quickly.”

 DePestel has been a longtime outdoor enthusiast, hunting with both a rifle and bow, as well as fishing throughout the year.

“I have two grandsons and I want to spend time with them hunting and fishing,” he said.

“So I’m sure I’ll go deer hunting again.”

DePestel is expected to finally be going home around Feb. 16.

And will he get back up in the stand again some day?

“I don’t think I will ever do that again,” he said, managing a slight chuckle.

“I have no desire to go up in that deer stand again.”

Bubba DePestel

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