The Herald Bulletin

October 31, 2013

Rick Bramwell: Halloween haunting great outdoors?

By Rick Bramwell
For The Herald Bulletin

---- — Normally, I am not superstitious, but I’m wondering if Halloween has anything to do with my latest experiences.

I walked down a fence row to a distant woods. This was new territory for me and adding to the excitement was that there were Indian mounds under the dark canvas of timber.

Deer tracks ran along the wood edge in a just picked cornfield. A break in the fence allowed me to cut across the northeast corner of the woods

I reentered the corn on the north side of the thicket and found a very large set of tracks. Perhaps I let the tracks have too much of my attention. My imagination was salted with reality when a deer snorted then took off through the woods. I couldn’t tell if it was a buck or doe.

Eventually, I cut back into the woods where I encountered hanging vines and big spider webs. I jumped the same or another deer. As I picked my way to the far side, something sharp penetrated my hiking boot. It felt like a nail though there was no evidence of any old homestead.

I could not take another step; holding onto a tree, I took off my boot. Something sharp and about two inches long had penetrated the sole. I envisioned walking barefoot back to the truck.

In my pocket was a quarter. I loosened the laces and put the coin over the spike and pushed down. Enough of my tormentor now stuck out so that I could get a grip on it. Oddly, it was a round, hard piece of round wood shaped like a nail.

Was this a warning to stay out of the sacred burial grounds?

The next afternoon, I saw a whirlwind dance across the road and go back into a picked beam field. There were sycamore leaves in the vortex, yet the nearest tree was 70 yards away. A sparrow, sitting on the telephone line, looked down on the dust devil. Its feathers never ruffled. The leaves lifted up and down, seemingly, controlled by an invisible magician. Finally they fluttered to the ground.

Later, I parked in a neighbor’s barn lot. He was outside working so I struck up a conversation. Talk turned serious when he said, “I think there is a big predator around here.” He had two goats die last week. He placed them near a brush pile. Two days later they were gone, no bones, horns, no evidence they had ever been there. “Something big had to carry them off,” he said.

“A year ago, two goats were missing in the fenced enclosure. There was some blood. Whatever killed them had to jump the fence with the goat,” he continued. “I used to see a lot of deer-seldom see one anymore. That is a big creek bottom, over there, and in it hides something not native to these parts.”

I wondered, as I crossed the lane and entered the woods, “Is this crossbow and three bolts all I need to hunt these bottoms?”

Rabbit season opens Nov. 8.

Rick Bramwell’s columns on the outdoors can be found in each Thursday’s edition.