Reminds me of my first day at the Gore's Landing Hunt Club probably fifteen years ago.
I missed the opening morning of muzzle loader season because I felt like crap. I was moping around the house mad because I missed opening morning and still feeling like crap when The Lovely Bride suggested that I could feel like crap twenty feet in the air in a nice tripod stand just as easily as I could on the couch at home. So I piled all my crap into Ruth, the old Jeep, and drove the hour to the new-to-me lease.
I had my Mossberg 500 with a fifty caliber muzzle loader barrel on it and I had my Colt Walker replica stuck in my waistband. Since I was sick, TLB thought I ought to take plenty of fluids with me so I was also toting a soft sided cooler full of bottled water. I had my Thermacell and the crap to reload the Mossberg too.
I only knew where one stand was and it was so crappy that nobody ever hunted it. The stand was nice but nobody ever saw anything out of it so it wasn't taken. It was a big, galvanized steel tripod with about a six foot by six foot box on top. It had a roof and it had windows in each side. It even had a boat seat. Oh yes. I will take a nap and call it hunting.
The ladder to get into the stand was a series of metal prongs on either side of one of the legs. I threw all the stuff I could carry over my shoulders and started up. About half way up, the cooler slid off my shoulder and impaled itself on one of the ladder prongs. It started bleeding a foul-smelling blue slime and I had to climb back down to get it so it wouldn't stink up the whole woods.
By the time I actually got into the stand, I was tired, sick and seriously pissed!
I got all my crap stowed where it wouldn't be in the way and the instant my butt hit the seat, I saw a whole bunch of feral pigs feeding in the shooting lane right in front of me. Right in front of the stand where nobody ever saw anything. Why they weren't spooked by me climbing the ladder or by the accompaning narration still eludes me but there they were.
I took careful aim with the Mossberg and clobbered one of the pigs closest to the stand. He's on his side kicking and I figure all I have to do is go down there and administer the coup de grace with the Walker, pile everything back in the Jeep and head home. It was a heck of a plan except that the pig wasn't there when I got to the ground.
I was weak and tired from being sick and I didn't want to climb back into the stand to get the Mossberg so I decided to just proceed with the tracking armed with the Walker. The Mossberg would be useless in the palmettos anyway so the new plan had its merits.
I followed the blood trail about thirty to forty yards when I noticed movement ahead. Lots of movement. Not just ahead either. To my right and between me and the stand. A herd of maybe two dozen feral pigs was walking out of the palmettos right where I was tracking their cousin. I was smack dab in the middle of 'em.
When the pigs saw me they all started circling around stiff-legged and giving me the evil eye. I'm standing there feeling like I'm gonna die from whatever has me sick, tracking a wounded feral pig, surrounded by a herd of his unhappy relatives and all I have for protection is a replica of a Colt Walker that tends to shed all of its caps whenever I pull the trigger. This is why the call it hunting instead of shopping.
After several minutes of me giving back as evil an eye as they were giving me, the herd decided to move on and I decided to let it. I figure they thought I was one tough character because I showed no fear. How were they to know that I was just too tired to be scared? When I resumed tracking, the blood trail took a left turn into thick palmettos. I got maybe ten feet before I had to get down on my hands and knees.
So I'm on my hands and knees, crawling around under a palmetto thicket, feeling like I'm going to pass out or die from being sick, armed with a revolver that will shed all its caps as soon as I fire one shot and I'm thinking that I have snake boots on and they won't do me a bit of good if I run into a snake because I have them on my feet, not my hands. I'm old fashioned that way.
I stop to rest and listen. Directly, I hear a combination thud and crunch. I put two and two together and decide that it was my wounded pig collapsing in the palmettos. The sound was maybe twenty yards in front of me. I know I'm pretty close to the edge of the palmettos and decide that it will be a lot easier and safer to back out of the palmettos, go down the shooting lane and reenter the palmettos from the side close to where the sound originated.
I get out to the shooting lane and quickly find out the sound wasn't exactly my pig. At least it wasn't just my pig. It was a bear. We were both tracking my pig and he's between me and the stand.
So now, I'm feeling like I'm going to pass out because I'm sick, I'm exhausted, somewhat dizzy, I'm looking at a bear that wants to dispute my claim on our pig and all I have to defend myself is a replica Colt Walker that will dump all its caps the first time I pull the trigger.
I decided to stand on a stump, wave my arms over my head and shout to make myself look bigger like they tell you to do in all those TV shows about people that get eaten by bears. The funny thing is that it worked. The bear loped off into the woods. Of course, he loped off toward his pig so the plan wasn't perfect but it did get me back into the stand without injury and the pig didn't go to waste.
I sat in the boat seat, rested, drank bottled water and looked for the bear until almost dark when I decided that the benefits of further rest were about to be outweighed by the hazards of walking out of the woods after dark with a hungry bear in the area even if he would be busy guarding his pig.
I got all my crap together and made it out of the woods without further incident. When I told TLB and all my friends, everybody thought I made the story up. I didn't. I was sick as a dog so maybe the whole thing was a hallucination. Might explain how I avoided getting the crap beat out of me by the herd of pigs but I didn't make it up.