Fresh off of a successful stint as captain of the winning team in last week's B.A.S.S. International Cup, Denny Brauer is facing a fifth surgical procedure to his chronically painful lower back.
The 53-year-old Missouri pro, who is among the most accomplished pros on the CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail, struggled through the pain to win the final Tour event on Alabama's Lake Eufaula in May and then returned home for an operation. He had hoped that the surgery would alleviate the severe pain and numbness in his leg that has plagued him for more than two years and threatened his career.
"At that time, the doctor removed some scar tissue and some calcium," Brauer said. "I really did have total relief and a lot of the numbness in the leg disappeared.
"For about three weeks after the surgery, I was experiencing no pain. I was back on a walking program and walking 6 miles a day. I was ready to go hug the doctor. Then it started to come back over a week's time. The doctor said that it was scar tissue issue coming back and putting pressure on the nerve and there was nothing he could do.
"I didn't take that very well as an answer. There's always something you can do. I got fortunate and hooked up with a spine specialist in Texas that is on the leading edge of some new techniques. He's kind of into fishing, and he's really taking this personally. Now I've got somebody that's real concerned about my career and kind of going above and beyond."
Brauer said his new doctor has been able to pinpoint the exact nerve that is creating his intense pain. Upon consulting with a group of neurosurgeons from across the country, he has determined that the problem is some sort of bone growth that is pinching the nerve (as well as some scar tissue).
"The doctors are very positive that they know what the problem is, and they're positive that they can fix it. And they're very positive that they can do it non-invasively. They're going to insert a tube right to the target area and remove the scar tissue and bone that is putting pressure on the nerve. And I should be good to go.
"I'm as excited as I've ever been about it."
THE COOK CLAN. Former CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic champion Ken Cook and his 16-year-old sons, Hunter and Tanner, recently enjoyed the kind of bowhunting success that is practically unheard of. All three killed an elk on their property in southwestern Oklahoma within a 24-hour period.
"It was pretty cool," Cook said. "We were doing a lot of high-fiving around here. It's pretty unusual to have that happen. Last year, I was the only person to kill one.
"Hunter ended up killing a big bull, a 6x7, pretty early Wednesday morning with his bow at 35 yards. That bull is going to score about 330, which is way up in Pope and Young. It's a big bull. There was a 5x5 hanging around that came to my call, and I killed it. The next morning, Tanner whacked a bull that was a non-typical 6x4. So since then, we've been cutting up elk meat.
"We worked pretty hard this year to try to make our property as attractive as possible to elk by planting quite a few food plots and it paid off."
The Cook boys will certainly have something interesting to report at Show and Tell when they return to school after their fall break.
DID YOU KNOW? In the 2000 Texas BASSMASTER Central Invitational on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, 1980 CITGO BASSMASTERS Classic champion Bo Dowden and sons Bo Jr. and Eason finished in the top 50. It marked the first time all three have collected checks in the same B.A.S.S. event.
PRO BIRTHDAYS. California's Mike Tyler will be 30 on Nov. 1. Missouri pro Tim Sainato turns 42 on Nov. 10. Like the Energizer Bunny, North Carolina's Guy Eaker, who becomes 62 on Nov. 23, keeps going and going.
IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO... North Carolina pro Chris Daniels might be a full-time professional chef today. In fact, Daniels often works as a chef at Cliff's Country Corner in Blanchard for the restaurant's Italian Night on Fridays.
THEY SAID IT. "I learned a long time ago that when you lose a good fish or you make a mistake like that, it doesn't do any good to dwell on it. The best thing you can do is just put it out of your mind and go on, and use what you learned from getting that fish to bite to get another one to bite." 2001 Classic champion Kevin VanDam on the mature way of handling the disappointment of losing an important bass during a tournament.
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