While going through a box in the attic, I ran across some of my old columns I had written dating back to 1972 when I took my first halting steps as an outdoor writer with the Homer Guardian Journal. One in particular was written on January 4, the day I’m sitting at my computer for this week’s column.
The difference is the column is dated January 4, 1973. If my ciphering is correct, that’s 43 years ago today.
This column brought back some special memories accented by a chuckle or two as I recalled the event that triggered that column back then. Edited a bit, here’s what I wrote in that column.
“My brother, Tom and I spent a week in the Tensas River swamp with Doc, our dad. While there, Doc, predator control trapper with Wildlife and Fisheries, came up with an ingenious idea of a new way to bag a wolf.
His plan went something like this…he had located a red wolf den in the woods and we were to drive back in the swamp not far from the den. Tom and I were to stay while Doc and Drew Denton, caretaker of the lodge where we stayed, would go into the woods and take stands between the wolves and Tom and me.
“After giving them time to get on their stands, I was to start howling like a wolf and Doc and Drew would hopefully get a shot as the wolves came toward us.
“It sounded like it would work. The only thing is I did such a good job of howling, the wolves got by Doc and Drew without being seen and the first thing Tom and I knew, here they came.
“Now, how would YOU like to be ten or twelve years old and be way back in the boondocks and see four lean, green-eyed wolves coming toward you? Well, that’s how we felt too.
“The first time I howled, they answered and if you have ever heard a pack of wolves howl, you know without a doubt why the hair stood up on our heads. That had to be the spookiest sound I had ever heard as the piercing, lonesome cry reverberated through the swamp.
“One short series of howls and all was quiet. Little did we realize that the wolves had left their den and were headed in our direction or I would have never howled again. I let out a mournful wail and it had no sooner gotten out of my throat when all heck broke loose.
The wolves were within one hundred yards of us in the thicket and all four cut loose at the same time, squealing, howling and yapping.
“I figured it was the end for us and we jumped up in the cloth-topped Jeep with no doors and waited to get gnawed to bits.
“It was then that Tom remembered Doc’s pistol under the seat and about the time he reached for it, we saw the four wolves coming across a clearing in the woods fifty yards away.
Tom fired once and the wolves vanished. Tom turned to me, all chalky looking and big-eyed and said, ‘I think I hit one!’ As he spoke, a small limb that his bullet had severed from a bitter pecan tree fluttered down from its former perch thirty feet up in the tree.
“Normally I would have hoo-rawed him something awful for missing so badly but not this time. I was just glad to have gotten out of that one alive. It mattered not that we could have hollered ‘Boo!’ and scared them off just as easily.
“When Doc and Drew came out of the woods upon hearing the howls and shot, they found two mighty scared little boys ready to go see their mama.”
That was a special memory tinged with sadness. I’m the only one of the players in this saga still alive.
Dad spent his latter years as a state trapper working to restore red wolves but sadly, his efforts were too late.
These magnificent creatures have long since vanished from the hills of northern Louisiana.