We are all familiar with this phrase and probably used it more than once in the past year. Life was going along as usual last February until…you guess it…the wheels fall off the wagon. 

I can most relate to this phrase while running a marathon – I’ve done this 3 times now, so I am familiar with the training and the effort it takes. However, even after 4 months of training that includes 20-mile long runs, the wheels fall of my wagon around mile 18 on race day and I question my life choices for the next 8 miles. 

At home, at work, on race day – things are going according to plan then an unforeseen, unknown, or crazy thing happens and BANG! Your wagon is wheelless.

It happens in the field too, of course. Things are chugging along. There are the normal minor hiccups – a lost leatherman, truck repairs, weather woes, and the like. Then there is a string of odd happenings like several mortalities in a short period of time. Those always catch our attention but more often than not they are unrelated and unpreventable. 

This time the wheels really did fall off the wagon. And I’m not talking about trapping mortalities or falling apart at mile 18.


The northern crew was going about their business moving traps when the wheel came off the trailer they were towing – not the tire, the whole wheel slipped off the lug bolts. The holes on the rim were worn so that they were big enough to just slip over the nuts and off the axle. I mean how does that happen?!?!?

Note that the crew, truck, trailer, and traps were all unharmed in this unfortunate event. 

The trailer was abandoned on the trail for several days until we could get our wheel back on the wagon. Then it was back to business as usual…until the next wheel falls off. 

-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
Game Commission Deer & Elk Section

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