A Fine Day Inside My Hole In The Wall

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: January 05, 2018

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Submitted: January 05, 2018



In the bleakness of night I had eased out my back door and stepped down into the dense tangle of the bayou. The locals didn’t call this place “The Labyrinth Swamp” for nothing. This dismal thickness was both a curse to the stalker, but a blessing at the same time for those seeking to live off the fat of the land. All that one needed to do was to change his method of engaging the game to be an astonishing success in this fruit, berry and meat rich paradise.

Truth is, very few of the locals dared to enter into this choking web. The reason is that what one was dealing with is an extremely dense, bamboo briar and bramble thicket, some four and one half miles directly through the center. Inside this area were holes hidden beneath black sucking mud and water that could never be detected, that would swallow a grown man completely down in a single gulp. There were snapping turtles down inside the mud that weighed two hundred pounds, that would bite a whole chunk out of a man’s leg, or even take his hand off like it was a bratwurst sausage, or some other boneless slab of meat. All of these horrors had been known to occur in the past. Not only that, there were panthers and cougars slinking quietly along through the tangle and almost invisibly, according to the grizzled trappers who resided in the local area, and didn’t mind speaking about it on a casual basis.

There were also strange howls deep down inside the backwater areas at night, where the slow moving whiskey colored water ran, and not even the oldest hunter really knew what it was. One of these interesting people did tell me a tale of him slaying a monkey-man down there in those dense bayou depths back during the nineteen thirties. Others in the area confirmed it, but that much was about the size of this tale from those long lost days of yore in the end.

In all honesty, I could not vouch for the monkey man or the cougar, but I had personally witnessed the black panther. The black panther is a cat approximately the size of a German shepherd dog. He walks in a zigzag motion and is totally silent. Needless to say, he comes out right on the edge of darkness, so very few ever get a glimpse of him.

I had just finished running my trap-line some two miles down once, and had heard the sound of deer in the thicket before me, so I squatted down in hopes that one would break cover where I could get a shot. The deer suddenly changed course immediately on the edge of the cover and the small opening. I was downwind, so I knew that it wasn’t my scent; then from the fading light of the sinking sun through the tangle, this otherwise highly intelligent cat made the fatal mistake of allowing himself to be silhouetted. I seized a glimpse of him, then he suddenly paused, staring directly at me. I eased my shotgun to my shoulder, but as I did so, he turned and simply vanished.

There were other dangers that one should note here inside these woods. I vividly recall once that I had a trapline of a hundred traps set in highly productive, enemy territory. The family who owned this territory were known as the Doogan Clan. Primarily this family were local hog barons, but owned thousands of acres that they never even ventured into; and were known to be fiercely aggressive, disgustingly profane, and even prone to violence, if any of them discovered others entering into their land tracts..

To make it back into this territory undetected, I had no choice but to travel very quietly and remain in dense cover at all times. I mastered this feat as a young lad by waking toe down first, then rolling my foot on the ball. I could actually move through the forest thicket quickly in this fashion. The problem for me in remaining inside cover was that by the time of this particular day, a road big enough for a mack truck to travel down had been pushed out all of the way through the center; and at the first T in the road, a huge clearing a half mile across had been cut down to the ground by Canal Woods paper company.

All that this reality did for me was to increase the potential danger scenario. To mitigate these challenges, I remained inside of the thicket forty yards to the right of the road and behind the eight feet deep drainage ditch, until I made it to a point where this road formed the first T. Thirty yards before I made it to the crossing, I crossed the ditch, then eased out to the roadside, checking both ways and waiting as I analyzed the potential for danger; then crossed the road and the eight feet deep ditch on the other side, that was also some forty feet wide. Like a fox I very quietly and smoothly allowed the thicket on the other side of the ditch to swallow me up. Without making a single sound, I gradually made my way to the left, and in a couple hundred yards I found myself pausing at the edge of the ditch beside the road on the left arm of the T while remaining in splendid cover, gazing outward across this massive cutdown area that had been cleared by the paper company. The wind shifted, and suddenly the clear, sweetly pungent smell of cherry pipe smoke struck my nose.

Where was this smell of a potential enemy coming from? I glanced from side to side, seeing no one at all standing nor up in the trees. Around my neck was a pair of military spec binoculars. Quickly I seized these up with both hands, then scanned the distant treeline over the huge clearing, and the area in general. Then I saw it, a lone standing cypress tree appearing to be a hundred feet tall out in the clearing, approximately forty yards out from the distant treeline to the left, upon which leaned a policeman who worked with the local wildlife conservation office.

Even though he must have been at least a quarter mile from me, I pull him up so close that I could vividly read the badge on the shoulder of his uniform. It was clear through the binoculars that he possessed a hippy like, citified air about him. He must have taken great pleasure in his position of being caretaker of a vast, resource rich tract, seeking to prevent any locals from utilizing the fruits of this tract for their own personal use; and as always, allowing his financial sponsors, the few local grocery stores and restaurants, right along with an extortionist localized government, to reap a guaranteed healthy profit from the overburdened toil of the local population.

Every now and then he would lift his right hand up to his mouth, in which he held a pipe bowl obviously filled with cherry tobacco, releasing a billow of thick blue smoke into the clear evening sky about. What was so amazing to me in regard to this scenario, was the fact that the wind would carry this scent for such a long distance. The inherent suggestion that this observation allowed me to safely assume, however, is that if one hippie possum sheriff was out in the woods, then certainly there must have been more.

To my far left, as I gazed down the road running the breadth of this massive clearing, I saw where the clearing transformed back into another huge thickly wooded treeline for the entire breadth of the clearing, and then some more. This was where I needed to be. My most bountiful territory lay inside the belly of this single tract. This was where my primary center of operation lay at the time. The problem that I had to deal with was that for me to get to it, I needed to remain completely concealed at all times, without leaving any sign. If I was going to travel a distance of another quarter mile, then I personally preferred to do so in fur or game rich land.

Across my shoulder lay a bundle of seven large racoons, tied at the foot by parachute cord scrounged from a roll of it found casually laying inside a new deer blind that I had discovered while on patrol in another tract of my territory, a month or so prior. In front of me was an additional bundle of ‘coon meat and fur on the other end of the same string. I eased down like a gator into this eight feet deep ditch, that virtually always held some four feet of water. On the side facing the road was a huge dense natural hedge line of trees, brush and briars. When I walked along, I did so while remaining close to the bank on the same side as the road. As I moved along, I had picked up a nice fat otter and two more large ‘coons, in traps that I had positioned inside sets that I put in the day before.

In the middle of January the water was icy cold. I wore a set of Red Ball chest waders that I had tactfully removed from a rotten stump just before I entered the water. When I made it into my new trapping territory, I had built a small A framed cabin that I had constructed directly inside the thicket several years prior. This would be where I would process both my hides and the meat. All of my needed chemicals were stashed around there; such as a store of allume, salt, and various much needed tools made from scrap metal scrounged around. This load of ‘coons and other furs was getting heavy by the time I had traveled half way thorough the distance in the ditch, toward the cover of my highly sought after destination.

About that time, a huge gray SUV with tinted windows came bouncing down the road, then abruptly paused ahead of me about thirty yards. Another soon pulled up behind it. Upon taking a simple quick glance, I immediately knew both to be two among the local skunk sheriffs. I hugged the ditch bank beside me to my right side, glancing upward at a massive hanging root bank above my head, pausing immediately without even moving, and very carefully monitoring my breathing. I could clearly hear their speech as they paused to take an evening chat, while they both apparently surveyed the expansive area before them.

Have you seen anything, Brothers?,” spoke one voice.

Naw not a damn thing,” replied the other.

What kind of report did you get from that young cock-a-doo over there behind the cypress tree, out in the clearing?,” rumbled the first voice.

Not a damn thing, though he affirmed that indeed this place was filled with wildlife. I would bet that he named six different varieties that he observed during the first hour alone,” replied the voice noted as being Brothers.

But I will tell you something else here, Brothers, this is one hell of a tract to patrol. Matter of fact, doing a foot patrol here inside this tangle is damn near impossible. We have tried it all; sitting in stands, calling in the slow moving air patrol, the dragonfly chopper, small drones, and the like. All that I can say is that this bastard who we have been called in to pursue, is certainly not your average woods running son-of-a-bitch. I can tell you that much with certainty, Brothers.”

Yeah, you are so right there, West. It kind of reminds me of my early Army days, chasing the Vietcong through the Asian tangle. We virtually always knew that they were around, but never seen them at all. My greatest problem here in regard to this character, is that we don’t even know for certain if we are in the right place. Have you found any sign? I certainly haven't, and neither has the kid by the tree.”

I will tell you what, Brothers, and you can inform the kid on this subject as well. When we finally do catch this son of a bitch, I am all for beating the damn hell out of him, myself. You heard about that man over on the Red Hill branch, that those wardens caught last month or so, didn’t you? One of them took a homemade billy club shaped like a Sioux war hawk that he always carried inside his truck, and literally broke the poor bastard all to pieces with it. All that they had to do was simply agree to stick to the same story.

The judges take our side anyway, and will never believe a stinkin’ wood runner who refuses to play by any rules. Nobody gives a flying shit if he is having trouble feeding his family and making his ends meet, since there exists absolutely no job security anymore. I for one, certainly don’t! We have our own jobs to do, so why in the name of hell should we care about this local scum around here? If he can’t find a job that pays worth a damn or has lost his job, then that is his problem, not ours, Pete. We all have a job to do, and never intend on losing ours.”

Yeah man, I can see why the frustration would provoke officers to respond in such a manner,” continued Brothers. “Well hell, for that matter, what about that situation over in Louis County there a while back? A seventy eight year old man was on his own land, and the warden on duty there just shot him down in cold blood, like a damn stray dog, when the old geezer got saucy with him about a flock of turkeys that this officer was watching. The old man hadn’t even actually killed one, he was just around where the turkey flock was coming to a corn pile. I heard that he wasn’t even hunting. Hell, he didn’t even have a gun or any kind of weapon on him at all! He exclaimed to the officer that the corn pile wasn’t even his, according to what I heard. Who else was around to witness anything?

I heard the backwoods boast though from several officers whom I would never name..; West, it really was a setup, but all of the officers stick to their continuous storyline. Somebody really had been hunting the area, so these officers just assumed that it was the old man. The officer in question is now immune, since the double jeopardy law has kicked in. We have the local courts, the judges, and most of the people themselves in our pockets around here, man. Supportive propaganda works astonishingly well!,” he laughed as the sound of him slapping his fellow partner in service on the shoulder rang throughout the woods on the late evening air

If we all stick together, we can do any Goddamn thing that we want to out here in Waccamaw County.. If I see a nice buck while on patrol and want to take him, I frequently do so when the urge strikes. If I am out on a farm patrolling at midnight and want to make a fruit, vegetable, or healthy peanut harvest for myself, I do so at my own complete liberty; and then get a hearty laugh listening to the locals blame each other for the misdeed come morning time. Hell, the extra cash money made from selling boiled peanuts really comes in handy! Sometimes I have even been hired for cash on the side to watch their place for them because of these incidences. Can you imagine that?” The voice known as Brothers roared with laughter until he struggled to breathe.

Just between me and you, while I was on guard, I have seen more than a few times that a small calf came in really handy myself. What about you there? ,” Brothers inquired through wheezy course laughter that continued on for what seemed like fifteen minutes or more.

Yeah, I know what you mean, Brothers. I sure as bloody hell know what you mean there..”

Both of them laughed heartily as they continued to chuckle and talk in low pitched imperceptible rumbles for the next twenty minutes or more. About that time the water suddenly shifted to my left side as I hugged the ditch bank on my right side, like a large fish was lurking exceedingly close by. The only problem was that it wasn’t a fish, it was the rolling body of a huge serpent!

Suddenly an aggressive face appeared on this body, moving very close to the surface for the purpose of observing what was standing in the water there immediately beside him, that he wasn’t exactly familiar with. He looked at me dead in the eyes with his shockingly wicked appearing face. I literally transformed into a block of solid stone, utterly mortified and petrified! My blood ran ice cold throughout my entire body. I could do nothing at all, but what I did. Even though the water was at freezing level, still the water moccasins evidently were awake, though they moved very slowly compared to the way they angrily snapped along during warm months.

The head moved on until it surfaced some nine feet beyond me, rising up to glance backward in my direction, yet the water immediately beside me still rippled! Finally after what felt like an hour, I saw the tail of this massive lethal beast snap on past me. He had to have been ten feet long at least, and some six inches in diameter. The head alone seemed twice as large as my fist; and during the warm months these beasts were vicious and ultra aggressive, leaping into canoes and jon boats from within the thick spanish moss on the hovering tree branches just above creeks, slow moving rivers, and on the edges of lakes. He had the local reputation for being the death of many a midnight frog gigger, fisherman, or local person gill netting on the sly. Honestly, the possum sheriffs and insolent hunting clubs were only a minor nuisance for those who truly know the art of reaping a productive harvest from the land. Other dangers around here are far more pressing, to say the least.

For a brief moment I actually considered rushing upward onto the bank and allowing the possum sheriffs to arrest me. I would rather experience being arrested and going to jail, than to be bitten by this poisonous American monster from the King Cobra family. Death would be almost certain, since there exists no antidote for his venum. He could have easily leaped high enough to bite me a multiplicity of times in the side of my neck, at the throat area. The only problem for me was that potential death stood up on the road as well. Indeed, it would not have been a simple experience of being arrested alone, I feared.

Death lurking beside me and death hovering above me, with me stuck on a bank right smack dab in the middle. This day had already held far too much excitement, with more than most ever experience in a single week, month, or even a year. It was regular life for me back in those days, however, and the fear of the moment would later transform into a raw thrill, that I adored like a woodshed addition that I simply could never let go of. I could only momentarily turn into stone until both the villains on the hill and the monster beside me moved on far away ahead. Soon they both did move on ahead as experiences tend to go, and I could finally breathe in a heavy sigh of relief. My heart slowed in its hammering as I began to concentrate once more again on the duties at hand before me.

I silently moved on down the length of this deep ditch until I passed the point where the clearing transformed into woodline. I moved on down thirty yards or so, until I knew that I was near my trail on the other side of the narrow two rut dirt road. Carefully I eased up onto the ditch bank to my right, observing in both directions while remaining inside the natural screen. I checked the trees on both sides for people up inside stands, especially on the other side. I also scanned through my binoculars for people squatted in the bushes on my side of the two rut dirt road and on the other. The coast was clear of danger, so very briskly I moved on over to the other side of the road, melting into the thick vegetation. I silently stashed my chest waders into another hollow stump once deep in good cover.

My small path ran zigzag fashion, this way I could remain inside cover and observe the depths of the forest before making a move. I had learned this tactic from watching deer move around as a young child. The old trick was effective and had proven it’s worth innumerable times over the years, by keeping my hind out of potential slings when I saw danger far in advance of it ever spotting me . I eased on into the depths of the forest, coming to natural trail markers notating trap sets. For security purposes my traps were always set at least twenty yards off the trail behind these markers, and inside of good cover. It is not wise to take any chances in this business, and good steel traps are far too expensive to repurchase.. I picked up nine more coons and about five rabbits before I made it to my ten by ten A frame cabin in the brush.

This same security consideration was given to my A frame. My trail appeared to take a left turn, leading off a hundred yards into a dense thicket, then stopping in a manner causing it to appear as if it simply faded away; my intention here being to lose any possible interlopers somewhere deep inside an immense cat claw briar patch chock full with deer, quail and rabbits, but also rattlesnakes at the right times of the year. Where it first turned to the left, there was a slight hill, and on the other side of that hill is where the real path commenced in zigzag fashion. Finally one came to a somewhat larger hill, and on the other side in immensely dense brush sat my happy little A frame, all splendidly camouflaged in ghillie netting that I had scrounged from an enemy hunting club’s deer stand blind. The average person would more than likely have simply struggled on past, never noticing. Then again, the average person would probably not be down here inside this exceedingly dense thicket. For this reason I always prepare my undertakings for evading possible search efforts initiated by highly gifted, bizarre people, who might be the very kind to visualize taking a bloody stab at somebody like myself.

Behind a live oak tree near this little cabin in the brush, I had a five feet, six inch diameter section of PVC pipe, with a solid cap on one end and a threaded cap on the other. This pipe was buried with the permanent cap down into the ground, and the threaded cap up almost flush with the ground surface, but not quite, so that it could be buried and perfectly concealed. Inside this pipe were all of my trapping tools and tanning chemicals duck taped up, extra food and bait, such as peanut butter, rice and beans, canned dog food used for an excellent trap bait, traps, boxes of eight thousand twenty two rounds, and a Ruger 10/22 carbine, carbon steel model. I had traded some really good gonja that had been swapped to me for some treble run shine that I had found in the woods, just to own this fine specimen of a rifle. I had lots of additional room inside that little home fashioned compartment, so I was always taking things out and putting new things in.

Out front I had built a rocket stove out of four cinder blocks that I had scrounged from the ruin of an old shack, way up on the hill half a mile or so from where I presently was. One of these blocks had to be cleanly broken in two the long way, as evenly as it is possible to do, but this was the only labor in making the stove. My cooking vessel was a well used carbon Chinese wok, which worked like the Red Baron of flying champs! The efficient use that this stove made of the surrounding wood resources and the very small amounts of smoke that the wood put out, made it extremely adapted to suit all of my purposes. The type of wood that I used was lightwood kindling, which was found all around me in great abundance.

Away from the cabin about forty yards or so was a small clearing. Inside this clearing I had planted an indian blood peach, a red haven, and a plum tree, standard sized, that I had dug up in shoots a few years prior, from a long since abandoned antique cabin site in another part of my territory. I had also placed a large hat full of rock salt onto the ground in the general area, but far enough away that it wouldn’t harm the trees. I did this for my own food, but also because deer and fur bearing animals are greatly attracted to these trees, especially when these trees stand far away from established civilization. Not only that, I could collect them both within relatively easy walking distance of my cabin.

Already both the deer and other game had beat literal trails through the forest to my three trees, even during the winter season when there was no fruit on the limbs or ground. Three days prior during a territorial patrol, I had located two long ignored, highly rusted conibear 330 sized traps used for beaver. My grandfather had taught me many years ago how to rig this setup for deer. On that note, I had decided to put these traps to much better use.

To get the rust off, I soaked these traps for several days inside a rich solution of tannic acid. I get this acid from combing my territory and gathering loads of rather large acorns that abound. These acorns are outstanding to grind into flour and make into biscuits. Not only are these biscuits extremely healthy, but keep far more than one years time. These make perfect breakfast rations around my comfortable little temporary home.

The problem with these acorns is that that the acid must be leached away by soaking them overnight in water, then changed and soaked again for three times or more. When the flour tasted sweet, rather than bitter, then I knew it to be good for my personal use. The water was rich in tannic acid, and this water was what I used to soak my traps in and tan deer hides in on occasion.

I hear that dripping this water through cans of wood ash, then adding in melted hog fat and allowing it to set up, also makes some really fine homemade lye soap. My only problem with it is that I am far too busy to test this formula out. Maybe later on in the year, when things level out and I have some down time, I will give it try.

I followed the deer trails away from the trees for thirty or so yards, and here is where the 330’s were set up. Sure enough, I had caught one small doe by the neck and somebodies hunting dog. I checked the collar and failed to discern the faded name. Evidently the dog had been wandering around in the bush for quite some time. I took the collar a hundred feet in one direction, tossing it into the deep water and mud; and the dog five hundred feet into the other direction, tossing him into a ditch that I knew to be chock full with both catfish and common goldfish that had grown tremendously large, which are in all reality just a type of carp that adapt very easily to the climate in my neck of the woods. I won’t bother to tell how it was that I knew this.

Quietly I slinked like a panther through the woods and began to skin all of my entire meat and fur haul. I laid the skins opened on a peeled nine inch log raised on one end, supported by two pegs of wood about two feet long. I took a piece of angle iron with two sticks mounted on either end for handles and began to drag this tool over the opened hide, skimming the fat and excess flesh from the furs and hides. The deer meat I cut up and dropped into several plastic buckets filled with a ten percent salt solution.

As far as the raccoon meat was concerned, my intention was to smoke this out inside a simple close top barbeque grill that merrily sat on the small porch area of my cabin. Dried wood from my peach and crabapple trees would smoke this out to a wonder. Once they were smoked out, these whole coons could be wrapped up in a series of worn out T shirts, patted over with boric powder, and hanged up inside the loft of my clandestine cabin.

A day or so later, my three hunting buddies would ease over, and we would have one golly whopping party down inside the hole in the wall, after a day and a night of hunting on the sly. Until then, I had tons of work to do around my place, and a king sized deer with a rocking chair head to slay, come first light tomorrow morning. He had been digging and feasting on my dark corn pile near my fruit trees, and I had been observing him for quite some time now.

When darkness finally came, I could hear the distant cry of what distinctly sounded like a woman in distress, alerting me to the fact that large wild cats thrived in this area. A whippoorwill chirped only a short distance away, in perfect tune with a hoot owl on a large limb somewhere above me. In the distance I could hear the leaves crunch as something large walked about. It was not two legged though, so I was not much worried about it.

In the center of my cabin I had a small wood stove that glowed in a way that lit the cabin up somewhat, heating it to cozy splendor. Since my cabin was behind this mound and two more on the other sides, with a dense thicket to it’s back, I really didn’t have to worry much in regard to security. As far as I was concerned I had found heaven on earth, I thought to myself as I eased backward upon my cot with the military surplus all weather sleeping bag. Soon the night faded away as I smiled to myself in complete comfort.

I awoke from my nice bed to the sound of chirping birds and squirrels moving about. The light of day had not broke yet, but it was just before doing so. In the distance sound carried far on the morning air. I detected the sound of three large pickup trucks slamming down the road over by the huge clearing. It could have been some from the local hunting club, or it could also be three conservation officers. For me, either way it was the potential for possible serious trouble, being big fines and hard time, if nothing worse.

Since danger lurked about, this reality dictated my choice in hunting weapons for the day. I chose my trusty longbow that I kept concealed inside the tube planted in the ground. My arrows had been constructed from plastic fletching and notching that came in a single piece, slipped over the thin end of a bamboo reed measured in length from the center of my breast, to the tip of my middle finger on my left hand..The striking tip was constructed from a piece of tin scrounged from old barn roof, cut into a small triangle with a tail two to three inches long. This tail was inserted into the reed and held in place with dried intestines that had been wet again to soften them, wound to hold the arrowhead into place; then allowed to redry, holding the arrowhead in firmly like it had been concreted. There was an unfinished homemade crossbow that lay on the cabin floor, but my use of that would have to wait until another day.

While on patrol one day I had discovered a strange florescent orange thread, running on for about ten yards, then vanishing into the thicket. I followed this thread, which led me to a perfectly square, four by six feet hole in the ground, with a lift up door over it camouflaged with netting, branches and leaves. I couldn’t resist opening the door, only to find a backwoods grow room, filled with some of the best gonja in the whole county! I had absolutely no idea whose it may have been.

I knew a veterinarian in town who would trade measures of a white powder used to tranquilize horses and cows when they are being castrated, for measures of this stuff at this level in quality. I could simply look at it and tell that it had to have been some of the best being produced. One could almost inhale the near mist like vaporous scent from the richly colored, long purple buds, and catch a buzz!

What I really liked about the powder was that I could take a long thin balloon, cut the round end off, slip it over my arrowhead, then fold back the opposite end, creating a splendid pocket into which I could dump about half a flat teaspoon of this stuff into the fold back of the balloon. I called it three step powder, since I could shoot and the arrow would appear as if it had missed on numerous occasions, then the deer would take three steps forward and simply collapse ! This rig would work splendidly at my present location, since danger was known to be lurking about. I would certainly make the kill, and the ever present enemy never be the wiser.

Near the peach and plum trees that I had planted in this small clearing not far from my cabin, I had constructed a small stand. A six inch diameter post oak tree stood tucked backward into another dense thicket, with a two and one half foot wide fork approximately six feet off the ground. This fork is where I had lain four, three inch diameter logs, that had been notched out to fit perfectly into the notch on each limb of the fork . This would serve as my treestand, giving me one hundred percent security from my back and sides, and clear view of the opening where my fruit trees were, and where this monster buck would surely emerge.

I had plundered around near an old logging area and located ten or twelve half inch by six inch bolts. I took my brace and a five eighths bit, drilling a series of holes about a foot and a half apart into the trunk of the tree, going upward . Into these three inch deep holes I tapped my six inch bolts, serving perfectly as steps; and very tough to see from any distance, especially when they blackened with the passage of time.

From the stand hung a parachute cord that reached the ground. On the end of this is where I tied my loaded arrows and bow, as I normally would have done my unloaded shotgun. Not only did doing so make it much more easy to climb the tree and position myself into the stand, it made splendid sense from a safety point of view.

With ease I now climbed the tree, since I did not have to worry about my weaponry. Once seated into the stand comfortably, I pulled up the bow and loaded homemade arrows. It was still dark since the break of day had not yet arrived, but it would be here only in a matter of minutes. In the distance I could make out the sound of a pickup truck or an SUV slamming down the road some four hundred yards beyond my present position.

In the dead of night or in predawn, sound carries tremendously far and is clearly discernable for astonishing distances in the backcountry. At times voices might be audibly heard for up to a half mile away, if there is no wind. An old hearing aid or other device such as the sound magnifier that I wore, makes it even more clear and audible at much longer ranges. With this I can hear most human footsteps in dry leaves at six hundred yards out. This morning the landscape was a still as a graveyard, with not even a puff of wind.

As the light of the sun commenced to break, I could hear the sound of movement in the brush and thicket, with a snap of stiff bones popping as something had arose from bed, followed by the sound of small sticks snapping as it began walking. It was headed my way.

About the same time in the distance I heard two pickup trucks or SUVs bounce along, then abruptly pause, and the doors slam one after the other; and two audible voices that I clearly recognized as those of West and Brothers. The sound of liquid sloshing forward and backward in a bottle was very clear amidst their coarse, low pitched rumble of profane talk..

You seen any sign today yet?,” Spoke the voice of West.

Not a damn thing,” returned the other of Brothers.

The sound of a bottle with liquid inside sloshing one way, then the other, seemingly rang throughout the trees.

You want a hit of this stuff here, man?,” asked the voice of Brothers.

Where did you get it?,” asked the voice of West.

Found it in the Burnt Islands about three days ago, when we made that big bust over there. Man.. let me tell ya, that had to have been the biggest still operation that I have ever seen, and I have seen many during my career,” replied the voice of Brothers.

Yeah man, give me a hit of that,” replied West. “I am not that big on drinking first thing in the morning, but really good swamp tea makes an exception.”

The liquid sloshed again.

Damn son! Its smooth as water, but punches like Marciano,” laughed West with excitement in his voice.

I could hear the sounds of twigs snapping as this true prize was nearing the edge of my opening. I knew that the buck was about to break cover and emerge into my clearing, no more than about thirty feet from where I was positioned.

In the distance, the sound of liquid sloshing back and forth in a bottle again, seemed to ring throughout the mourning wood stands.

I told ya, fellow, old man Maclaurin over in the Burnt Islands makes some good damn shit,” spoke the voice of Brothers.

The massive, but beautiful deer finally emerged, just as clearly into the opening as if I were standing right there beside him. The light of day made my vision perfectly vivid, even though it was still only early dawn.

In the distance the low rumble of a voice broke the silence. The sound of liquid sloshing back and forth followed.

You know West.., I was thinkin’ about this son of a bitch here that we are after. When we catch him.., and we will...you know that.”.

I raised my bow with the already notched arrow in its perfect seat. I placed the tip of the arrow slightly beneath his left front shoulder, just below the pit of his leg, so to speak. I focused the arrowhead tip on the edge of the deer’s form at that specific point, since arrows tend to strike upward from the point of one’s aim. I drew the string back with the first three fingers on my right hand, seating my thumb upon my jaw as I focused the arrow. In the distance beyond, the course voice of Brothers rumbled again.

When you are good, West... I mean.., like.., when you are Goddamn good, man! And we are; you, me, and old Long Dong Burns patrolling the Bizzel woods over there, are simply the best that there is, and the courts and the locals both know that we are.”

The buck raised his head as if he heard the same voices rumble their profanity, as did I. I let arrow string roll and the arrow fly, striking the deer solidly behind the left shoulder. He grunted, taking three steps, then melted down into a magnificent heap.

The distant, but clear sound of sloshing liquid in a bottle broke the stationary mourning air. The same two low pitched course voices again shattered the stillness of the morning.

You know I was thinking, West? Is old psycho Burns patrolling here with us today, or over there?”

No he’s over here with us today. You know, this bastard is all of our special assignments. Catching him or not catching him, could make or break us,” replied the voice of West. “He is really making our entire department appear as incompetent, blundering idiots.”

I want to beat this son of bitch down when we catch him… I mean.., really.., just beat him bloody down. Then.., and then.., I am just dying to make a new man out of him!,” rumbled Brothers seemingly through tightly clenched teeth as a hint of coming laughter broke his strain..

A new man? Whatta ya mean by that, Brothers?”

When you’ve been with this department in this neck of the woods long enough, you learn the code words around here. What we mean here is that I want to beat him down good.., really good…,” again the voice spoke seemingly through tightly clenched teeth. “ I take it that this man is a bit young, cause an older man just couldn’t melt away from us like this one has.”

Yeah, that’s a fact,” replied West.

I eased on the down the stand, then made my way over to the deer’s crumpled corpse. I kid nobody not, this buck was an immaculate ten point specimen of divine magnificence in both rack and well built body, if any there had ever before been. Now the real work would resume. Very cautiously I pulled him over toward my cabin, attempting to remain perfectly silent as I did so. I could still hear the slosh of liquid in a bottle and the course profane rumble of the low pitched voices looming inside the four hundred yard distance beyond.

That’ll be perfect,” rumbled Brothers. “I want you to radio Burns, for him to meet us out here immediately. Just listen to me now, and you listen to me well.. After we have beat this son of a bitch down good, West, I want you to strip him stark naked. Then we’ll both double him over and let ole Long Dong Burns do what his greatest specialty is, way out here in the back woods.”

The course laughter of both men rang throughout the countryside. The sound of liquid sloshing back and forth inside a bottle seemed to echo in the distance three or four times over.

Are you kidding me, man?,” asked the voice of West. “That really goes on out here?”

It happens almost monthly,” thundered the voice of Brothers. “And if this person is a female, then such is much better by damn far!”

Both voices laughed for what seemed like Texas long minutes. I was engaged in quite a bit of work. In a nearby turkey oak I had hanged a chain fall given to me by Huckle Buck, one of my fellow hunters. He swiped it from some mechanic in town, who owed him a couple hundred dollars for a welding job that he had done, but had neglected to pay up in due time. The chain fall was suspended from a six inch limb on the oak tree.

In the end of the chain, a three feet piece of half inch rebar was wired into a hook. I cut the legs of the deer and slipped the ends of the rebar between the main tendons and the bone of his leg. I began to pull on the chain slowly attempting to maintain security, until I hoisted this beautiful deer upside down.

I was glad those two were drinking on the job, them drinking was sure to keep me out of trouble once more again. Our own personal rule was never to do so. I guess that is just a part of the reason why we manage to function around here, with such ongoing impunity to the continuing exasperation of both the locals and the police.

I proceeded to cape the deer head and hide out. The carefully preserved head, horns and hide would fetch nearly a thousand dollars in the black market around here on a mount this nice. I was extremely careful not to nick the hide as I peeled it down from the rear legs and hams. I would put the meat underneath the salt brine. Later on I will take an old set of bed springs that I had discovered in a dump a year or three back, and construct a rack, upon which I will then lay thin slices of the deer meat to make jerky. A gallon sized bag of properly seasoned deer jerky would fetch twelve to fifteen dollars in town, especially since I had a well established reputation for providing good quality. .A tactfully designed false name and social security number provided the perfect cover for the sake of security. I will easily reap two hundred dollars cash for all the deer meat that I had taken today.

The hobos over on Ben street would buy the meat of the coon for five dollars apieace. We will sell all of our hides nearer the end of the season to a man over on the Waccamaw reservation. Our hides nearly always fetch top price of twenty dollars apiece and sometimes more. At the Waccamaw reservation during the time of the yearly rendezvous; crafts, good food, and cultural shows prevail in the daytime. At night time it’s barnyard dancing, and some of the best homemade shine served up in quart sized fruit jars then for us; and as always, a run with the most prized native belles. I am sure that all of them will be there anxiously waiting for us. We’ll be certain to fetch our own additional hefty bag of cash as the night wanes, when we trade measures of this fine purple budded gonja that I located just a few days prior to the moment. The extra jolt of funds should be just enough to pull us on through the year until time for planting season, when we could transfer the tobacco plants from the beds and into the fields. Corn, bean and sweet potato planting time would be in before too long as well.

For security sake, the rendezvou is held in a different location every year, somewhere out in the depths of this fifty thousand acre reservation. I forgot where it is going to be held this year. When Huckle Buck, Banjo and Riff Raff get here later this evening, this will surely be one of the first questions that I have to ask. Riff Raff will know, even if the other two have forgotten, as I have.

In the looming distance the two voices rumbled, now combined with the hyena like laugh of a strange third, and the slosh of liquid in a bottle.

When we get him, boys, he’ll damn sure then know that he has been had!,” rumbled the voice again of Brothers. “Cause when you are good now, boys…”

There again was the sound of liquid sloshing inside a bottle.

I mean, men..,when you not just good in an acceptable way.., you know...What I am talking about here, fellows.., is when you’re Goddamn good!,” Brothers seemingly spoke again through tightly clenched teeth.

Then all people know it and they respect you for it; and then, men, you can do whatever the hell it is that you want to. That's what life's all about here in America now.., making choices…, and just doin’ whatever the Goddamn hell it is that you want to.”



© Copyright 2018 H.L. Dowless. All rights reserved.

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