In 19 years as a police officer and another 22 in the military, John Gazda says he had never even been close to being hit by gunfire, that was, until a Monday afternoon hunting trip.
"That area has been my stomping grounds for two decades."
He couldn't get a hold of someone he planned to drive the deer out of the brush with, so he continued down Gilbertson Road, when all of a sudden a 12-gauge shotgun slug went through the side of his truck and hit him.
"Excruciating pain on my left side."
He had a cell phone, but no service, so he started to drive.
"The first thought that ran through my mind was to get out. I was fully concious, aware of my surroundings when I was driving."
Gazda went about 15 miles all the way to the River County Plaza near Cadott, not just because there were people around...he knew there was enough space to land the Mayo One helicopter.
He talked to a dispatcher the whole way via two-way radio.
"That was good thinking on his part," his surgeon Dr. David Ciresi of Luther Hospital said.
Rescue workers would look after him until he was flown to the hospital.
"I'm a fighter, and I just wanted to get home."
Now Gazda says it's too early to tell whether he'll hunt again, and he can't think of a reason to drive back to Gilbertson Road.
"Every time I close my eyes, I got back to that spot."
Though doctors say that's the only possible side effect John Gazda could suffer from after nearly losing his life to a shooter's bullet.