Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Thanksgiving Deer


The Thanksgiving Deer

                It’s been a beautiful fall in the mountains of North Carolina.  The weather has been good, not hot but definitely not too cold either.  The leaves, though not as brilliant as I have seen them in years past, were nice.  The sky has been blue, Carolina blue, and the sun has had that warmth you can only appreciate after sitting in a cold deer stand for a half hour to forty-five minutes before the sun begins to turn the distant ridges into black silhouettes against the graying sky at the edge of the world.
Going deer hunting is not as simple as waking up and walking into the woods and shooting something.  It’s much harder than that.  It involves preparation, determination, and sacrifice.  Well, skip that last.  The only real sacrifice is in the sleep deprivation we always suffer on hunting days.  You see, it is a two and a half hour drive to our hunting area and we leave very early, usually with only three or four hours of sleep to see us through. So it’s up at two o’clock in the morning, make some coffee, chuck our hunting stuff in the truck along with our only half-awake bodies.  Sometimes we talk a lot about hunting and what we expect for the day, and sometimes we sit and drive in a brain-dead, stupefied silence until the caffeine kicks in. 
John and I have to get up an hour earlier because we drive to Pop’s house to leave from there to head out to our secret deer hunting site in the far reaches of the mountains.  Pop is usually getting his boots on when we arrive. 
We transfer our equipment into his big, old grey Dodge Ram truck, grab the guns, reload on coffee and head out.  Several years ago John got big and tall enough to be uncomfortable in the back seat of the extended cab pick-up so we swapped places and I ride in the back…which conveniently facilitates my laying over for an extra hour’s cat nap on the road.  The ride is fun, when I’m awake, with spirited jests and discussions of deer activity, and who did what and who sat on their rumps, and who is hunting where and what time we are meeting up for lunch. The miles and minutes tick off quickly until we are pulling up to the gate to the land we hunt on. 
                It was a perfect day for deer hunting. The sharp chill in the pre-dawn air always wakes me up and invigorates me.  Something in frosty cold mountain air just feels clean.  It makes me feel more alive and alert and in tune with the natural world that surrounds me in the glorious solitude of lonely peaks. I breathed deeply and tried to soak it all in.  The stars were gleaming ferociously in the clear, black sky as I climbed across the fence and started up the farmer’s access road.  It’s more a set of ruts and gullies wide enough for a tractor than a road. I stopped on the ridge to look up and savor the view of sky, quickly identifying Orion, Taurus, Pleiades, and Cassiopeia.  The big dipper pointed me across the sky to Polaris and I smiled and started down into the black hole of the hollow where I was planning to hunt, half way to the bottom of the mountain. 
                The moon had long since gone down so the darkness was intense.  I had a head lamp with several settings so I turned it to the red LEDs which are dim but sufficient, and I have read that deer can’t see the red light.  Maybe that's true, I don't know.  The old road bed down to the tree line is steep and curvy and not for the faint of heart in a vehicle, but on foot the only real challenge is to walk slow and quietly without slipping and falling on your gun.   I had plenty of time so I took it slow and stopped several times for a brief rest before the road levels out on a lower ridge running toward the northeast. I left the road and entered the woods for about ten yards then turned straight down the mountainside. There is an old rusty fence, and I crossed it at a broken spot where only the top strand remained intact, then on down. I was searching in the dark for an enormous rock that sticks out of the side of the mountain low in the hollow.  I had been there several times and thought it would be a great hunting spot because you have a commanding view of the valley and the small stream that originates in several springs a couple of hundred yards back to the right up the hollow.  The plan was to try it out for a morning and see if it was really as good as it looked.
                I missed the big rock to the left in the darkness and came to a smaller one next to it, but I could just begin to see enough to locate the big rock hanging over me there in the trees. The original plan was to sit on top of the rock and watch below, but as the woods began to emerge from the darkness in the pre-dawn grayness, I realized that up that high I would also be trying to see through entwined branches from the trees, instead of the tall, straight trunks I was seeing from here near the bottom of it.  It was time to wait for a little more light so I could choose a spot with good firing lanes and a good view. 
                The area underneath the overhang of the massive boulder began to look promising, with a flat area about three or four foot wide, a couple of small trees to help break up my form, and a great view of the land below and across the valley.  I decided that was where I wanted to be, so I slipped over there as quietly as I could, managing to make no more noise that one of the big fox squirrels digging for acorns or something. 
                There were several old dry sticks and some leaves scattered over the level spot and though it made more noise than I wanted, I knew I had to clear most of them away before setting down, or I would make noise every time I moved.  So I played the old game from childhood called Pick-up Sticks, slowly getting each stick out without moving the rest.  I laid them over the edge and pushed gently to move the leaves with them, then sat down on the bare dirt, with one foot propped against a dead locust trunk, and the other laying over the edge of the bank.  I leaned back on my pack and found the position was pretty reasonably comfortable, for the time being, at least. 
                I sat back and watched the woods slowly lighten as the sun turned the horizon purple, then pink and orange, which slowly faded to red as the sky went from black to blue.  The trees, which had been silhouettes in the dim light faded to gray and the green and brown of the underbrush began to emerge.  A few trees still held on grimly to their last brilliant leaves from the fall, and they seemed to almost glow in the company of their less colorful companions. 
                The view and the available firing lanes were much better than I had thought they would be, with most of the valley floor visible to me, and with firing lanes that stretched wide open for as much as two hundred yards in places.  I was quite content to just watch and soak it all in.  There is a peace and stillness to the morning deep in the mountains that can be found nowhere else.  I love the solitude, the whisper of the wind in the cove around me and in the tree limbs above.  I love the bite of the cold air on my face, and the slow, deliberate rise of the sun.  Nothing can rush that.  The sun has risen at the same pace since the first dawn in creation.  It never hurries and it never drags.  It reminds me that life is ticking at the same pace if we could just get our minds out of the rat race long enough to appreciate it.  That is most often easier said than done, unless you are sitting in a deer stand somewhere in tune with nature instead of man.
                My rump began to hurt.  It grew more intense as time crept on, and I shuffled my position to try and get more comfortable.  I didn’t want to make any noise but the discomfort was getting worse, so I rocked up and reached under me to see what was up.  The ground which had been smooth when I sat down, had packed under my weight to reveal a fist size rock along with a couple of smaller ones that were starting to dig into my backside with vengeance.  One by one I pried them loose and laid them aside against the face of the big rock until the ground was once again smooth and easy to sit on.
                A movement caught my eye low down and to the left, so I watched carefully and waited to see what had moved.  A moment later I saw it! It was a boomer, a small type of squirrel, and he was running back and forth across a log that spanned the creek.  I had caught the first flash of movement as he ran behind a tree trunk near one end of the log, then again as he headed back from whence he had come.  I watched him jump up on a big knot sticking out of a tree trunk, sit there for a moment then disappear up the far slope. 
                Birds began to move and search for food, then a murder of crows came through overhead screaming and cawing at the world as they went somewhere off the mountain.  Small sounds came from every direction as the woods woke up and came alive, and I began to think about things that could happen.  “What if…”   “If a deer does this…” “There is a lot of food in that cut-off over there…”  “That big bear may show up and bear season is not in at the moment, if he comes my way I’ll have to defend myself so…”
                At one point I laughed to myself and thought it would be funny if the deer was bedded down on the other side of this same big rock I was sitting under.  Ten minutes later I heard something big on the other side of the rock.  Big enough to be a nice deer,  I thought “Holy Cow. It was sleeping over there!”  I had never heard a sound until the sudden noise so I thought it must have been close when it got up.
                I reached for my gun leaned up against the rock next to me and picked it up, laying it across my legs pointing in the general direction I expected the deer to appear from beside the rock as he started down the hill.  My heart began to thud like a big drum in my chest as the adrenaline began to course through my body. 
                The deer stepped past the edge of the rock, and it was a nice one.  I lifted my rifle and rested it on my hands with my elbows propped on my knees and began to follow his movement down the hill.  He walked to the creek for a drink and turned slightly giving me a near broadside view, but a six-inch diameter tree was right in the way.  I took a slow breath, and then he stepped forward.
                I could see his shoulder, about four to five inches of his chest, then the tree trunk.  I thought “Four inches is a mile to a bullet at this range.” So I lined up the cross-hairs, let out half a breath, and squeezed the trigger softly.
                The report of the rifle roared through the valley, the rifle jumped in my grip, and the deer jumped and took off up the slope.  He was a dead man walking.  I could see the blood trail from where I was sitting and at that point it was around fifty yards.  I watched him run up the slope, turn across and then back down toward the bottom.  Then he crumpled up and fell sliding down the last few feet into an old logging road bed.  He had run about one hundred and fifty yards over all, and had ended up around one hundred yards away down slope in the direction I was planning on dragging him out anyway.  Awesome.  I could not have planned that better.
                I looked at my watch.  8:01am. I had my deer and the morning was young.  I sat for a while listening as normal sound returned to the woods.  Occasionally the boom of someone else shooting somewhere in the surrounding mountains would echo among the peaks, some closer and some far away.  All was good in my world. 
                I sat quietly for a while, then decided to go look to see where that deer had come from.  The easy way would have been to circle below the rock then back up the other side.  Naturally I didn’t do that.  I climbed around the rock to go above and down the other side so I could check out the view from above.  As it turned out the top of the rock was completely blocked up with a natural fence made from intertwined fallen trees.  Getting through them would have been hard and dangerous and there was very little room behind them to perch on the edge.  Besides that, just as I had thought, there were the tree branches up that high which severely cut into many of the firing lanes that were wide open from the base of the rock.  I had made the best choice after all. 
                Circling on around the top and over to the fence line, I found the place the deer had come from.  He had come out of a thicket on the opposite side of the fence, and moved with amazing silence until he got to the fence and jumped it.  That was the sudden noise he made.  Then he had turned down the slope toward the creek and his destiny.  I followed the trail to the water and found the spot where he stood when I fired the rifle.  The blood trail was wide and clear and I followed it up until I got to the old road bed, then left it and turned down the road toward the deer.  I already knew where it was laying so I took the direct route. 
                The deer lay where it had fallen and I walked up to it and said a quick prayer to thank the Lord for a successful hunt and the meat to go in my freezer.  I looked him over and realized he was bigger than I had originally believed.  He was a healthy buck with eight points on his rack; probably the dominant buck in this valley.  He was fat and heavy with enormous hams and I had damaged very little meat with the bullet. It had taken out ribs, heart and lungs. I found later when I field dressed the buck that I had made the perfect heart shot: shattering the whole top of the heart, which depressurized his entire blood system instantly.  He really was already dead when he ran.
                Dragging the deer out by myself proved to be a tough proposition, but I dragged him down the road to where it emerged in the edge of a clearing before tying him off and field dressing him.  He was a fat fellow, and my knife gummed up with tallow so bad I had to clean it on a dead stick twice before I finished.  He was going to make some good meat this year.
                I washed my knife and my hands in the creek, scrubbing with sand to scour off the greasy fat, then rested for several minutes before dragging the deer on down to the pond on the Christmas tree farm where I left it in a shady spot.  The sum was warming the valley nicely by then and I sat and ate a snack while sending John a text about where he and Pop could find me.  I rested then, and watched the mountain for deer coming out to feed, but the warmth of the sun brought on a lethargy that increasingly encouraged me to stretch out in the grass and close my eyes.  I read a chapter or two in my little pocket New Testament, then caved to temptation and stretched out in the grass and closed my eyes.  Only to hear the truck coming up the hill.  Oh well.

James Lee Frady (c) 11/24/2012


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Camping With Johnny: (Nosey Part 2: The Brief Return of Nosey)



Camping With Johnny
(Nosey Part 2: The Brief Return of Nosey)

Note:  If you haven't read "The Demoniac Cat", please read it first, as it is part 1 of this story.

There came a bright, sunny, summer day.  The leaves were full and green, the forest deep and shaded, the sky crystal clear Carolina blue. The corn in Mr. Laughridge’s field was waist high and thick.  The birds were singing in full volume, each as sure and as proud of his or her song as any person ever sung.  It was a perfect day to be a boy. 

I had not a care in the world: no chores to be completed; no where I had to be; no future event hanging heavy over the horizon.  I was young and free with no hindrances. A boy like that can be dangerous.

It’s also very easy to get bored on days like that.  The weather makes you lazy.  I decided some action was in order, so I got out my fishing pole and went to the river. 

The lazy flowing Catawba ran right in front of my house so that was an easy fix, The water drifted down from above, swirled and eddied in the long deep pool there, before accelerating into the shoals below.  I sat and dangled my feet in the edge of the water and baited and cast and reeled and waited, but the fish weren’t biting, so after a while I gave that up. 

I put up my fishing pole and wondered around the yard until the poplar tree there in front of the trailer caught my eye.  The first limb was twelve or fourteen feet off the ground but I had climbed it before and thought it would be fun to do it again. 

Climbing trees like that is simple, but rough on your chest, arms and legs.  I walked up to the tree, reached as high as I could, and hugged the tree as tight as I could.  That doesn’t mean I’m a tree hugger.  Then, I lifted my legs as high as I could and wrapped them around the tree tightly, and held on with them so I could move my arms up higher.  Then I scooted my legs up again.  Following this sequence, I could be up to the bottom limbs in very short order.  I perfected this technique on the trees there along the hillside. 

So up the tree I went; up the trunk, then through the limbs as high as I trusted the tree to hold me.  I could see across the river into the parking lot of the Dolphin Fish Camp, and down through the fields toward the corn fields and cow pastures toward the airport.  I couldn’t see the airport, of course, but it was not far below us on the river.

With the tree climb out of the way and me safely back on the ground, I began to wander around to see what else I could get into.  Nothing really grabbed my attention till I thought of Johnny.  I wondered what we could get into together…

I had to walk up the hill to my grandmother’s house to call Johnny, since we didn’t have a phone at the time.  I used grandma’s phone after promising to keep it short and local only.  Within a few minutes we had secured permission for him to come over.  I thanked Grandma then headed down the hill to figure out what we could get into first.

By the time Johnny arrived it was near noon, so we ate a sandwich and decided to climb the mountain behind the trailer.  We called it Grandpa’s Mountain since he owned a chunk of land on the slope next to the river, but I never knew the real name of that hill. 

A few years earlier, Roy, Johnny and I were playing up on top and had gathered every stick, log, and dead tree we could find and had stacked them up to form a square hut about four or five feet tall right on top of the ridge.  It had no door so we had to climb over the walls to get in or out.  We laid brush and slender trees across half the top to form a roof.  It was our fort, clubhouse, log cabin, and whatever else our imagination could come up with at the time.

Johnny and I went up there for a while.  It was a rather rigorous climb, but we had no problem with that.  We played, made repairs to the clubhouse, and talked about the deep, deep philosophical things that boys can find to speculate over: UFO’s, Ghosts and whether they are real, how far away the stars are, what we would do if a bear attacked us while we were up here, wouldn’t it be cool to be a pirate?   That sort of thing carried the day until we started running out of words.

We wandered down the mountain and slid through under a wide laurel thicket.  If you got down on the leaves and started sliding, with a little control, you could go a long ways solely on gravity power.  It beat walking down that steepest part of the mountain, and it brought you out just above and around the bend from our trailer. 

When we got down to the road we started toward the trailer.  There were a lot of animal tracks in the mud there and I pointed some of them out to Johnny.

“These look like cat tracks.  That’s a big cat” 

Johnny agreed and after a short discussion we decided it was the old bobcat that had left those tracks.  The old bobcat roamed up and down the river on our side but especially around the side of the mountain.  It had been seen several times.  Roy and I saw it very well once, and I know how big it really was.  To this day it remains the biggest bobcat I have ever seen and I have seen a few.

Often, late in the evening we would hear the old bobcat scream up on the mountain.  It made our blood run cold.  It sounded remarkably like a woman screaming in terror or pain and several times when we were out in my grandma’s back yard, a few shrieks from that cat would be enough to send us inside.  Knowing that old bobcat was around was enough to give you the willy’s if you were out after dark and happened to start hearing strange sounds.

So Johnny and I followed the tracks until the road started drying out and the tracks no longer made an impression on the ground that we could tell.  Then we did the natural thing.  We forgot all about it and continued on our way.  At some point in time we came up with the idea of Johnny sleeping over and us camping out that night.  Now there’s a plan Huck Finn would have been proud of.

With another trip up the hill and a phone call, permission was secured for Johnny to stay over, so we started gathering some few supplies for our overnight excursion.  It was quickly decided to not just sleep out in the yard, but to go far enough away to call it a real camping trip.

There was the old shell of the bed of an old milk truck in a field down below the cornfields and back up in a pastured cove in the hill.  It was some small amount of shelter and the bottom was dry and off the ground, so we decided to treat that like a camper and sleep in it.  We would still be under the stars, but up off the ground and away from any creepy crawlers that might be about.  So we had one flash light and scratched around and found two or three candles for light.  We decided not to build a campfire.

About the time the sun started going down we headed out.  My big white German Shepherd went with us.  Bigfoot was a pretty good companion if you were going to be outside and away from the safety of the house.  No one or nothing would bother you with Bigfoot around.

We walked down the old road at the base of the mountain to where the spring was where we drew water.  At that point the old road turned very steeply up through the woods on the side of a lobe of the mountain to crest out on a ridge.  From there it sloped more gently away down toward the cow pastures.  It came out of the woods about a hundred yards away from the fence. Right as it reached the pasture fence the road turned up into the woods and circled back up on the mountain.

We left the road and crossed the fence then headed for a small hay barn under a low ridge.  The barn had long been a fun place because some of the hay had broken loose from the bales and we
used to go jump out of the top loft down into the loose hay.  Many times we came home almost black from the dust sticking to our sweaty bodies during all that jumping. 

We circled the barn and went around the ridge into the cove where the old milk truck bed was.  A small branch about a foot wide trickled down the left side of the valley, with a line of low brush and trees to mark its position.  To the right of that was a narrow level area then a rising slope covered with deep, fresh green grass.  About a hundred and fifty yards back was the fence and the line of the forest.  One tall, large beech tree stood out from the forest by about ten yards or so in the field.  Far to the right a cluster of oaks stood at the end of the ridge.  With the fading light and the breeze rippling through the grass, it was picture perfect, but the sun was disappearing fast and we had to get our stuff laid out to sleep in that old milk truck. 

First in order was to clean out the accumulated leaves from several seasons of build-up.  They were piled mostly in the lower side so we just pushed them over board and brushed out the dirt with straw pulled from the field.  In no time we had the bed clean enough for an overnight sleep.

It was about the time we got the blankets laid out, (we did not have sleeping bags), that I saw something move up near the woods.  It was tawny yellow and just a flicker, but I was sure I had seen it.  “Johnny, I just saw something weird moving up near the woods.”

Johnny looked long and hard.  “I don’t see anything, it must have gone on.” 

“Yeah, I guess.”  I did not mention to him it looked like a big cat, but I kept my eyes on the woods from that moment on.  I had a creepy feeling about what I saw.

It was almost dark when I saw it again.  I told Johnny, and he looked but saw nothing again.  “You’re imagining things, you ain’t scared are you”

“Well….No….Of course not.  I just thought I saw something, that’s all.” 

We gave way to talking about various and sundry things that boys like to talk about, but I kept my eyes on the edge of the woods.  I had good eyes and knew that something had been there.  Thoughts of that old bobcat began to give way to thoughts of becoming the old bobcat’s dinner…

The evening light faded away late as it was summer and it didn’t get dark until around nine pm, and the first star appeared.  The little rhyme was quick off my lips: “Star light, Star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight.”  I was wishing whatever was in the woods up on the hill would stay away the rest of the night.

We watched the rest of the stars come out to shine silently above.  One of my favorite topics back then was whether or not man would ever reach the stars and what it would be like to be able to set a course for half way across the galaxy and go visit other worlds, star systems, and civilizations.  I loved classic science fiction and was a major Star Trek fan.  We worked that topic for a bit but I was preoccupied and not as into it as usual.  Then Johnny started talking about girls, he was a year older than me and I just wasn’t into the interest in girls yet.  That was coming soon enough but not this night.

We lit one of our candles and dripped wax on the framework of the truck bed.  The candle was stuck into the melted wax and allowed to cool so it would stay, and we stretched out on our blankets with intentions of going to sleep.  It was up toward eleven at night by then, and tomorrow was going to be a busy day of fun and excitement.

I laid awake for what seemed like an hour and couldn’t doze off.  My nerves were a bit on edge and I laid there knowing something was watching me. I could feel it.  Bigfoot was somewhere nearby, but I don’t know where so I occupied myself with other thoughts.  Johnny appeared to be asleep soI sat and watched the candle burn slowly down. 

As the night dragged on my eyes got tired and dry and I closed them to rest them for a few moments. I was not asleep but just resting my eyes, and when I opened them, there was a pair of glowing eyes reflecting the light of the candle up on the hill toward the woods.  They blinked, then disappeared.  I woke up Johnny.

“Johnny….Hey Johnny…Johnny…”

“What?”  He didn’t sound happy. 

“I just saw that old bobcat up on the hill watching us sleep.  I opened my eyes and he was right up there.”  I saw no advantage in telling him I hadn’t been asleep yet.

“You’re seeing things.  There ain’t nothing up there. Scaredy Cat.”

Well that shamed me into silence for a while and Johnny went back to sleep.  Not me.  Truth be told, I was scared.  I had seen that bobcat in broad daylight and he was big and scary.  Having it creeping around in the woods at night when I was out there in the dark essentially defenseless was a shade more than my young mind could override. 

I had read somewhere that a candle one inch in diameter would burn at an average rate of one inch an hour.  I began to mark time by estimating how much the candle had burned.  I think it was probably one or one-thirty in the morning when our hillside visitor showed up again.  I was watching all around, but especially in that direction, when the movement caught my eye.  Something was back up there at the edge of the woods.  I wished I had more light because the candle and the moon just wasn’t enough to see what it was, but when it looked straight at me I could see its mean, green, beady eyes reflecting the light.

“Johnny….Hey Johnny…Johnny…”

“What?”  He didn’t sound happy. 

“It’s back again.  Look, it’s right up there.” But, of course it wasn’t.  I guess the sound of my voice scared it back into the woods, and there was no evidence that anything had ever been there.

Johnny’s scathing words had far less effect on me this time and I stood up and picked up the flashlight. 

“Well, I’m going to the house.  I’ve seen something up there watching us all evening and you don’t believe me, but I seen it and it’s that old bobcat, and I don’t want to be attacked while I’m sleeping, and killed. I’m going home!” 

“Well alright scaredy cat, we’ll go home.”

I wrapped my blanket around me and hollered for my dog.  “Bigfoot! Here boy! Where you been all evening? Some guard dog you are…”

“That’s just more proof nothing was ever there” Johnny piped up.  “It that old bobcat was up there Bigfoot would have heard it and run it off”!

That was a real good point, but my mind was made up and I turned toward the fence and started home with Bigfoot on one side and Johnny one step behind on the other. 

We crossed the pasture, climbed through the fence and started up the sloping road toward the wooded ridge of the mountain.  Johnny reminded me that he couldn’t believe I was scared of something that he had never seen.  I walked in silence, carrying the flashlight and looking at the dark tunnel that was the road when it entered the woods.

We passed the first few trees and the darkness swallowed us.  The trees were big broad leaf trees and what little moonlight there was blocked out by the overarching limbs and thick foliage.  Our world shrunk to the circle of light cast by the slowly fading flashlight.  Big tree trunks edged the bank above us and were an uneven row of columns below. 

I heard Bigfoot growl softly.  He had detected something by smell or by hearing but not yet by sight.

The crest of the hill was just step away and the road dropped very steeply beyond that back down to the edge of the corn field.  I lifted the flashlight toward the point where the road peaked out, and a squalling scream wrenched the air.

Off the bank above us leaped a big tawny-orange-ish ball of screaming fur and claws!  My heart stopped dead and my hair stood on end and I froze in place, expecting a horrifying death in the next instant. I have no recollection of a real, conscious thought in those seconds but only the white-hot burn of pure terror.  All my fears of the whole evening were focused like a spot of sunlight through a magnifying glass into one super-intense instant of unmitigated fear.

Then Bigfoot howled a ferocious growling bark, and leapt to my defense. It snapped me out of my mindless paralysis and back to the real world as the screaming fur ball hit the road in front of me and leapt again to escape the jaws of my massive cat-killing machine which was already in mid-dive to catch it.  It was Nosey, the cat who had attacked my thumb and ran off into the woods never to return… until that night. 

As cat and dog went off the bank and down the side of the mountain I realized all that had transpired and breathed a big sigh.

“Holy Cow, Johnny, it was Nosey all along….Johnny?....”

I looked and Johnny was gone.  I didn’t catch up until we were safe in the living room in the single wide trailer on the riverbanks of the old Catawba.

I explained to Johnny that the death we had narrowly avoided was actually only Nosey and Bigfoot had run him off down the mountain so it was no big deal.  He wasn’t impressed.  We crawled in bed and slowly went back to sleep. 

We never talked about that camping trip much after that.  Bigfoot was home when I woke up the next morning and was none the worse for wear.  I gave him a few treats and a generous scratching behind the ears and thanked him for being a good guard dog after all.  He found a shady spot and took a nap.

I never saw Nosey again.  I think maybe Bigfoot caught him, or at least ran him far enough away that he never showed up again.  Good riddance.  I wasn’t as afraid of the bobcat after that either.  As long as my big white German Shepherd was with me, I felt confident he could handle whatever came up…Still those blood-curdling screams on the mountain were a reminder of who really ruled the woods at night on that mountain.

The end. 

James Lee Frady (c) 6/16/2012