Here Piggy Piggy

The other day when I spoke with the cook from the Blackwater Inn, he said they were cruising down the St. John River to hunt pigs.  Logic would lead one to believe that the pigs would have to come from somewhere to get to the water. That place looked like the State Forest near the river. Since all my other plans fell through, I decide to go investigate  Lake George State Forest Astor Tract near the campgrounds and check things out.  Look for some sign.  If it looks like there is activity, maybe I’ll go get a license and do some still hunting in the forest.

Before the sun is up, I have the dogs in the truck and we’re pulling out of the campground, heading almost immediately onto State Forest land, and soon onto a forest service road.  Surprisingly, I saw no signs of wildlife on that short trip.   After only 20 minutes of travel time I pull over and get out of the vehicle—standing in the dark, listening, and praying that the dogs behave while I’m gone.

Of course, I, the stealth hunter, am dialed in to pick up on slightest of movement or sounds.  Poised, alert, adrenaline rushing down to my fingertips and toes, anticipating the slightest sign of life,  I tip toe down a foot path into a thick canopy of wet, jungle-like woods.  I hold my breath, thinking I’ll be able to see better, hear better.  Instead, it causes me to suddenly gasp for more air. 

As I continue into the 21,176 acre forest, I remind myself to breathe.

I make my way through the brush, almost half a mile into the thick stuff when suddenly there is a loud

“CRACK!”

A branch snaps behind me.   I freeze in place, my heart pounding, wishing for eyes in the back of my head.  Straining to hear something from behind, I try to turn around in slow motion.

“Shuffle… shuffle…”

Dear God, what is it?  My ears are now pounding, fingers tingling, and I cannot get a big enough breath…

Yes, I, the stealth hunter, armed with…with …well shit armed with nothing, spin around to see what is about to eat me.  As I turn and prepare to scream out for my very life…..I realize nothing is there. So I press on. 

Another 10 yards, then another painfully cautious and slow 10 yards, then another.  As a glimmer of dawn surfaces, I find a tree to lean against that appears fairly creepy crawly free, and wait.  And wait, and wait some more.  Wait and watch, motionless.  Eyes constantly scanning the heavy landscape.  Watching as dawn makes its appearance. Waiting for any sign of a squeal. 

“Here, piggy piggy.  You are sly but so am I—where oh where are you?”

After an anxious wait for well over an hour, I press on again, feeling more comfortable in the light of day.  I walk about another quarter mile through the woods.  Everything growing seems to be about armpit high or less.  Except for the big trees.  I spend another hour or so, waiting in silence.

I got nothin.

So, I go on again.  Then I come upon a small clearing. It is a dried mud clearing with ruts of dirt that look dug up. Hello pig haven!   But it is all old and dried.  This could have happened weeks ago.  Still, I walk along the circumference, check the wind to find a good direction, then patiently wait in silence again.  Another hour goes by. It’s probably close to 10 A.M. by now.

Then I turn around.  

Where the hell is the footpath?  I look out and see armpit high foliage as far as the eye can see from all directions.

Shit.

Where’s the sun?

Impossible to see where the sun is, with the thick treetops and overcast sky.

Shit. 

I walk around the mud clearing again.  Oh—this looks like the foot path.  And I start to go down it.  I keep a fair pace on the path for a good 10 minutes, hoping it’s the right path.  Then I stop to listen again.

Nothin. 

As I take my first step to continue on I hear a

“CRACK!…. Crack!” 

And I, the stealth hunter, dialed in to pick up on slightest of movement or sounds, remain  poised and alert with adrenaline rushing down to my fingertips and toes, anticipating the slightest sign of life….then it occurs to me I really should have an exit plan.  A good exit plan, like up a tree…but there are no trees to climb.  There is nothing to get up and out of the way to.  I will have a face-to-face with whatever it is out there.

Shit.

As I sink into a slight panic, the brush in front of me starts to sway.  Sway like something is moving through it.  Something big.  Running would be the worst thing to do.  Stay calm.  Not even a buck knife on me.  Oh lord what was I thinking?

“Snap!  Crack!” 

And as I stand there, praying for intervention from the wild hog, out steps the biggest mole-like rodent I have ever seen in my life.  WHAT?  And I’m not standing around to evaluate it in detail.  I bolt away on that foot path and pummel through the brush without stopping for what seems like forever.  The path ends at a logging trail.  This is not the way I came.  I get onto the trail and keep going. After another 45 minutes of brisk walking, happy day, I see the truck up ahead.  Ok, so I ran a good part of the way.

As I approach the vehicle, the dogs are barking up a storm.  No doubt they had an exciting morning as well.  I let everyone out to pee, have a drink of water, and I devour a granola bar and an apple while I scratch my legs and arms. 

After a half hour of sitting on the tailgate being grateful for finding the way back, I load up everyone back into the vehicle.  We head down the Forest Road and over to the Dexter Mary Farm Tract to the South of the campground.

Here, piggy piggy!  Once again I head down a foot path to try my luck for the afternoon.  At least I have a flashlight this time.

 

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