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March 19, 2012 / flogginwater

OBN Prompt: "My Outdoor Scary"

Rebecca from the OBN has given us bloggers an interesting writing assignment – to share what is our scariest encounter, or the thing we’re most scared of happening to us in the woods – be it drowning, beamed up by aliens and probed, eaten by a grizzly bear, mauled by a monster trout, etc.

I’ve been trekking up and down creek beds and around the banks of lakes by myself ever since I was 16 and got my driver’s license. In all that time – I’ve managed to avoid confrontation with scary animals (although I remain aware, and if I get the sense that something isn’t right, I remove myself from the area), I try to wade smartly and have avoided major dunkings and drowning. If I’ve been anally probed by aliens they did a good job of zapping the memory of the incident.

While the thought of being eaten by say, a mountain lion is something that I keep in mind when I’m in the woods (I’ve found plenty of cougar tracks along some of those river banks) – the thing that scares me most isn’t one of the creatures native to the forest – it’s people. Evil, two legged animals – the scariest predators out there.

There’s been way too many stories in the news papers and on the television news of drug runners and growers usurping public lands and turning them into big marijuana farms. There are areas that the local law enforcement officials have publicly stated they will not go. How scary does that shit have to be, where the trained, armed police officers flat out say “No way, Jose!” Not only is it the pot farmers – but even worse – the damn methamphetamine cookers – those are arguably the worst, and scariest. Pot, at least, is a natural plant. Pot plants aren’t exactly prone to explosion, nor do they poison the surrounding area. Not so much with the meth labs.

I’ve heard these stories from relatives ever since I was a kid. An aunt and uncle of mine lived on the SW Washington coast, right along the banks of one of the forks of the Nemah river, and just a few miles from some excellent trout ponds up in the mountains. While driving up to one such pond with my uncle and my dad, my uncle warned us of recent activities up there and drug busts of the meth cookers. That was fifteen years ago – and things have only generally gotten worse.

When I was younger and much more active in seeking a law enforcement career, I did a number of ride alongs with deputies from my local sheriff’s office, as well as troopers with the Oregon State Police – and they all told me the same thing – the meth cookers are one of the scariest things you can encounter. Mobile meth labs, and larger fixed bases that frequently get built or parked in the woods – away from prying eyes. Riding with the officers responsible for policing the wilder, more rural areas of my county, they both spoke of weekly pursuits involving the rolling meth labs – along with tense situations where guns were pointed each direction.

These people are bad people, and they’re not afraid to hurt or kill you if they think you’re going to be a problem – or you might tip off the cops to their grow op/cooking location. There’s a lot of money at stake for them.

It’s not just the drug manufacturers that are the problem either – it’s the damn thieves and violent predators that prowl the woods anymore, looking to steal what they can, or rob their helpless victims with the protection of being away from cell phone coverage and fast police response.

Just the other day on one of the fishing forums I am a member of, one of our long time members, frequent poster and fishing maniac related her own story of running into a pack of these people – and flat out said she will never go fishing by herself again. She ran into a pack of men – one of them clearly armed with a pistol – that were following her back to her car, where she found a group of men peering into her car. Were it not for her dog “finding her inner Cujo” she believed she would’ve been another statistic.

I’ve personally encountered a number of sketchy people in the woods – people you just *knew* weren’t out there fishing, picking mushrooms, or watching the native flora and fauna. They were hunting – but not for deer or elk. I’ve had encounters while camping – strange people and vehicles coming into my camp sight at night, doing strange things. Were they looking for someone to rob, rape, or kill? I don’t know. I do know that a few of those times – making my presence known scared a few of those people off. I also know that in my daylight encounters with some of these people – they quickly altered course once their eyes locked onto the pistol I carry openly on my hip 90% of the time I’m in the field (only carry concealed when I’m visiting a park that doesn’t allow the open carry of firearms).

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I take my personal safety, and those of my companions and loved ones very seriously, and have since I was a young teenager. My parents enrolled me in a martial arts class when I was ten. I worked my way up to third degree black belt by the time I was 19.

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I bought my first handgun when I turned 21. I don’t worry myself into a frenzy, nor do I look for trouble. I don’t let the thought of bad people doing bad things to me ruin my fun or keep me from going to my favorite waters or woods – but I am ready if someone tries.

I’ve never had to draw my gun on another man in the woods yet – and I hope I don’t. I’ve had to in the city before – and I tell you this – it’s not a good feeling. It’s not a feeling I want to experience again – it’s not something I want to do again – but I will if I *have* to.

It’s why I train – both in the use of a firearm, and unarmed – to defend myself and my loved ones – both in the woods and in the city. It’s why I’ve taught my wife to shoot, and tried teaching her some basic unarmed combat techniques. I will teach the same things to my son when he’s big enough.

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Someone bringing harm to me & mine – THAT is my outdoor scary.

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One Comment

  1. Howard Levett / Mar 19 2012 17:25

    I'm glad you've never had to use your weapon or had any serious encounters. Although I'm proud to have served, it's also a time I'm ready to forget.

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