Monday, December 3, 2012 was a beautiful day in Southern Indiana, and I had the urge to do some Squatching.
I asked my sister, Angelia, if she felt up to going with me. She had been under the weather with a headache for a few days, but I hoped she'd agree. As it turned out, she was all for it, so we made plans to make a go of it that night. I began making a mental list of which direction we should go, what places to stop, and how extensively we wanted to get involved in our excursion.
I work for the county, assisting on a school bus for handicapped children. When I finished my shift that day, I got home and had a little snack before heading to the barn, where I keep my horses. Most evenings, my sister and I walk the pasture and spend time with the horses before we put them up in the barnyard for the night. It gets dark pretty quick this time of year. We have to hurry if we want the hay thrown before the sun goes down behind the trees and hills. It's always dark before we head back to the house.
We also wanted to give the hunters plenty of time to exit the woods with their kill, or just their guns. My sister hates hunting in general. I hate the sport of it. I feel it should only be done for stewardship of the land and for food, and be done as humanely as possible. No joy should ever come from killing, just thankfulness to the Lord of the land. I learned this from an old marine, and an old Indian, my dad and my grandfather.
When we got back to the house, I took some time for a bit of a kick-back in my recliner, for a short nap. Then we gathered up our gear and headed out to our first stop, Body Parts Lane.
I stopped the Expedition, turned off the motor and stepped out onto the gravel road. I did some wood knocks and listened for a bit, but it was quiet; no answer to my call.
We traveled on into the river bottoms, stopping along the way. It seemed there was no action going on that night, only an owl hooting in the distance. I decided to do my calls from inside the vehicle, just hanging out the window. I was tired of getting in and out. My sister refuses to exit the vehicle at any time. Being safe is her priority.
I drove to a place where I encountered responses last winter. As soon as I finished the last wood-knock, an owl sounded off in the direction I had just come from. Then a pack of coyotes farther back than the owl started in the chorus. A pack from across the river joined in the howling, also to the North of our location.
They did not sound the same at times, and I noticed a couple of very strange out of sync vocals. They were not like the rest. I asked my sister if she heard the "off" ones, and she whispered "yes."
One of the howlers was coming in very fast from her side of the Expedition, CRAZY fast! It was a lone call not like the others, and sounded more like someone trying to imitate a coyote, but doing it badly. And it was moving in with great speed while sounding out. She said start the vehicle and I did with no hesitation. In seconds, literally, it's sounding had come closer and closer over a field that's nearly a mile wide.
GO! GO! GO! It was big and it was loud and it was following us along the wood-line, next to the road. I could hear it still with my window cracked. That thing was chasing us!
I wanted to head back to civilization like right then! I took the first turn to the right and she asked, "Where does this road go?"
I answered, "I don't know, but it heads inland."
"It could dead end at any time! Turn around ... " she told me.
She was right. Bad move on my part. This road ran along the edge of the field in which this thing was chasing us. We wouldn't even have the barrier of the woods between us. I backed up , all the while my sister telling me to do it fast but be careful. "Hurry! Hurry!"
I could still hear that thing sounding out, and thought it must still be moving toward us. I was going to put some distance between us. I drove a good ways on up the gravel road and told her it must surely be getting tired by now, when the headlights light up a sign.
Road Closed 100 FT
"That's just great .... " I said. I did a four-point turn (or more), trying to get the Expedition turned around. The ground in the bottoms is soft and much of it has rain-water standing in it. I absolutely didn't want to get too far off of the road and get my SUV hung up in the mud. I have 4-wheel drive, but I was in a hurry, and just didn't want to take any chances in getting hung up in the dark.
There was no choice but to go back the way we came. We had a quick discussion on it and made a decision. We'd just move through the area quickly and not stop, no matter what. I would just run over it, if it got in front of us. No backing down, just plow the road!
It was very dark that night, and I was driving on roads I had not been on for years. I had already passed the point that I was familiar with. While we road, paying close attention to our surroundings, we had the discussion of, "What if this thing follows us home?"
I saw a road to the left, and I took it! Relief hit us when we both recognized a location, but it had been so long since we had been there we could not remember how to get to the nearest town from this point. I decided to just keep cutting left every chance we got. If we ran into a ROAD CLOSED sign again we could just back track till we got through. I knew we were running parallel to this creature but it is a big wide land out there.
We took the long way home. We figured it would get side-tracked by the houses. It could go scream in their windows. We made it home with our limbs intact and a little more knowledge of this creature and its ways. We would return the following day to look for prints and see the place in daylight to learn more about the roads for sure. We wanted to get some photos of the landscape and to maybe find out where this creature was when it first started to come to us.
The next day, as soon as I got home from work, we rushed to gather our things and race the daylight to the river. The sun was setting when we arrived to the area of initial contact. We got out and looked around. The ground was soft and very wet. It had rained most of the morning, and for a while into the afternoon.
We scoured the road for prints, but didn't find any. We scanned the large field that is situated behind the wood-line where we'd been parked. I wasn't sure how wide the field was, and couldn't tell when we'd been there the night before. It was just too dark to see how wide it was then.
I located the road that I had turned onto and then backed up because of uncertainty. This road passed between two fields on either side of the road. I drove until it intercepted with a road I was familiar with then turned around and headed back the way in which we came.
I found a good open place to park the Expedition, so I could sit quietly and listen. It was very quiet. We didn't hear any animal sounds, or gunshots from any hunters in the area, if any were around.
I got out once more, to do a final check for prints in the road. before all of the daylight was gone. I sounded off a couple of calls, but got no response.
A little later I did some cracking of the bat,"wood-knocking" but no response to that either. All was quiet on the Wabash. We heard one owl, far up river from were we were. We headed home for the night. I was going to be able to return the next morning for daylight pictures and a little more exploring of the area of our encounter.
Greg, my husband, went with me, to check things out the next day. Heading up the river something caught my eye. It was a large bird soaring across the water, until it came to a landing, across the river in the trees.
I stopped the vehicle, and stepped out onto the road with binoculars in hand, to see if I could locate this large bird. It was different than the usual turkey vulture. My eyes went to the sandbar, and there stood two bald eagles on the bank. One must have been under four years of age, because it did not have it's white head-feathers yet. My good friend, Carolyn, informed me of this bit of knowledge. These eagles were eating a very large fish. I was pretty excited, because this was my first encounter with these majestic birds of prey in the wild.
My husband is great to accompany me on these outings. He usually takes a nap, or reads, while I scout around.
I found some possible places the creature could have been coming from that night, and made preparations to do some gifting.
I wanted to see if it would take the gift, and maybe even give something back. I decided the bait would be peanut butter, and I would leave it at the location of the first response. That would be where it came after us with great determination.
I put the peanut butter in a stump, after I smeared some of it on the lid, so its scent could be picked up. The stump was located in the wood-line, right on the edge of the field.
At the end of this field is another grassy field, and then a swamp. Behind the swamp is an old abandoned house, that is surrounded by fields and woods on one side, with no roads leading into it.
I scanned over the area again, it was a muddy mess. And of course I had to do some wood-knocking by the stump. If nothing else, maybe a hunter could get a snack if they found it.
We took a ride down to the river the next day to see if there had been any takers on the peanut-butter. It was a foggy afternoon and all the creeks looked beautiful; quiet and misty.
The eagles had moved on to another place on the river. The air was cool and moist. I was happy I'd brought along my Stanley travel thermos, filled with spiced orange tea. It kept the chill off of me.
I keep it next to my binoculars on the console of my SUV, so it could be easily reached, along with my bat. After I do wood-knocking, I like to sit doing some wood-knocking I like to sit quietly with my windows down and listen and drink some hot tea.
The stump was empty. The peanut butter was gone without a trace.
I walked around, looking in the nearby brush, even in the trees. The jar should have been noticeable. It had a bright, red lid and white label. I went to the SUV, pulled out the binoculars, and searched the field and the wood-line, to no avail. It was gone, jar and all. A hunter or farmer could have taken it, or a coyote could have carried it off in its jaws. A Sasquatch could have picked it up and headed on its way, scooping out finger-fulls of gooey delight. It could happen. I do know something took it, because it was gone.
Friday night was the night I planned on returning to do some calls and cracking. I phoned a friend who had wanted to accompany us but he had to decline because of early work hours. My sister was still battling a migraine, so she declined the trek as well. It ended up being just me and Greg. He was not allowed to sleep this time so he could help me listen for a response.
It was a very quiet night. I did not even hear an owl or coyote until we came to the field of tall grasses and the swamp. I decided to try whistling for awhile, and that got a response. Greg could clearly hear a responding whistle to each of mine, but it whatever it was, was whistling a different tune. That is all we heard, and that was just fine. We were tired and ready to make our way home through the fog, so we did.
I laid my head on my pillow that night after evening prayers knowing is nothing new under the sun, and my God created it all with His spoken word. There are many mysteries on this earth that may never be known to us , but it sure is interesting trying to figure some of them out.
I hope you enjoyed this read. Please feel free to leave a comment. God bless you and thank you for stopping by!
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