As I see it by Molunkus Harry

 

The Dangers of the Early Trout Season


I am a Baptist preacher. I am also a Registered Maine Guide. The reason I am a guide is because it pays occasionally. We also have a big family and every once and a while we get everyone together. Sometimes during our getting-to-gethers the kids will say, “dad tell us a story.” Now they have all heard every story I have many times. So in order to hold their interest I must embellish them just a wee bit each time I tell them which brings us right back to the Baptist Preacher.

This is a story about what happened many years ago in the early Trout Fishing Season, or commonly referred by those who have become urbanized as poaching.


You see there was this certain 149 acre farm in that was bordered on three sides by a hard road and on the south side by a stream. Not just a stream but a Trout stream, one of the best Trout streams in the county. A Trout stream that was stocked every year early in the spring. The emphasis is on the word early as in early March. They do that because it gives the Trout time to get used to their new environment before opening day of Trout season for the city folks which usually fell on or around April the 15th. However the period between early March and April 15th was to some, like the one that lived in the certain 149 acre farm, the “early season”.

Let me set the stage so to speak before you get the wrong impression of the young fellow that lived on the 149 acre farm, who shall remain nameless for reasons which will become obvious as the story unfolds. You need to properly understand the boundary of the farm at least the important one to the south. From the barn to the creek was over a mile. However you had to go across a 60 acre corn field, and about 200 yards of woods which was more like a cliff until you reached the stream. Now here is where it gets real interesting. At the edge of the cliff or I should say woods was a dirt road and about 50 yards from the dirt road was the Trout stream. The real interesting part of this story involves the area between the dirt road and the stream. It was full of what they refer to in that part of the country as “Green Briars.” Now I'm sure you have seen briars. They grow all over the country. They are found on Raspberry bushes and Blackberry bushes and even rose bushes, but until you have experienced Green Briars you haven't seen briars. The term “green” means they are always green, spring, summer, fall or winter they never lose their elasticity. One way to describe Green Briars is to say they are a cross between a buggy whip and razor wire. Many times I have been told when someone shoots a big Tom Turkey in that neck of the woods they ask them two questions. How long was his beard and how long was his spurs. To that they will say “man oh man he was a big bird, why his beard was dragging on the ground and his spurs are as long as a green briars thorn” meaning somewhere between 5/8 to an inch long. On the other side of the 50 yard swath of green briars was a road, well more like a path or trail that was made years ago by guys that fished the early Trout season once every year or so. The trail was a little hard to find, kind of like asking directions when you are traveling and some ol timer says “go on down to where old Clyde Hammer's barn was before it burnt and turn to the right and go another step or so to the tree line and turn left”. However if you knew just where the road was and ducked real low so the green briars don't fetch you up you can get to the creek without a compass providing you kept your eyes on the moon. Which by the way was another advantage of fishing later in the day during the early season.

Getting back to the story you need to remember one very important part, the southern boundary. The boundary line was the middle of the creek. I know because that has been told over and over many times while telling the story of the early Trout season. Saying that is important because the Trout season for the 149 acre farm and Trout season for the state where the farm was located didn't always concur on the same date.

One evening in early March the young fellow that shall remain nameless called two of his buddies and asked them if they wanted to go coon hunting down in the hollar. He told them not to bring any dogs that he will just take a young pup, but to bring their rods and flash lights and he will dig worms till they get there. Now the dog was important. You see if a conservation officer commonly known as game warden around that part of the country would just happen to see you in the creek in the middle of the night you could always chuck the rods in the bushes and yell here Rattler, talk to em boy. That would usually do the trick unless you forgot about the Chase & Sanborn coffee can full of worms you were holding in your hand.

On this one particular night during the early season the boys had very carefully navigated their way

along the road through the green briars to the creek. As you got to the creek there was a tree that had fallen across many years ago that became a perfect bridge. The only drawback was it was the only bridge all the way up and down the creek. The young fellows thought they would fish on the other side of the creek for many reasons. One of the most important so they could watch the dirt road in case the conservation officer just happened to swing through there on his way home from something and catch them coon hunting with just a pup! In order not to have to go through the long ordeal of trying to explain to the conservation officer about the southern boundary of the 149 acre farm being the middle of the creek and their work schedule was such that if they got to do any Trout fishing at all it had to be after work. They decided to just watch in case someone came down the dirt road they would have a 50 yard jump before they could get through the green briars to the creek.

The fishing was pretty good I was told and the five gallon bucket one of the fellows had was about half full of Trout when one of the fellows stood up very quickly and trying to yell but only getting out a choking coughing whisper screamed....LIGHTS pointing at the dirt road. Here unbeknown to the fellows a car had slowly crept up the dirt road without any lights. The fellows had become so engrossed with the excellent fishing they hadn’t noticed the car. The light they saw was the dome light meaning not only was there a car there but someone had the door open and was probably outside and for all they knew half way through the green briar road to inquire about the quality of fishing that evening. Two of the fellows started to cry saying something about going to jail. They probably thought coon hunting season hadn't started yet when the other fellow said to them calm down just get your rods and go across the bridge and walk back to the farm. That's when they saw the car had parked directly in front of the green briar road cutting off their only way of escape or I mean stroll back to the 149 acre farm. Putting their heads together they decided to split up and make a run for it. The only problem was the pup. He was over on the other side of the green briar patch running around the car thinking it was his ride home. That wouldn't have been a problem either if it wasn't for that name tag on his collar. The young fellow that owned the pup had to get him and because he would be going in the general direction of the 149 acre farm was quickly elected by majority of votes to carry the bucket fish back to the farm. Shortly after the vote was taken the other two fellows took of like banshie Indians in the opposite direction from the dirt road sounding like a whole herd of blind cows as they ran and clawed their way up the ridge to put as much room between themselves and the creek in the littlest amount of time possible. The other fellow was left standing in the dark holding a 5 gallon bucket half full of early season Trout that were all taken out of the 149 acre farm's half of the creek. Thinking it best to just sit still for a while and see if the conservation officer had really found the road through the green briars and had actually made it to the creek when he heard a noise. It was just a soft kind of ….plop. There it was again....plop, and again....plop. That's when he noticed there was someone directly across from him on the other side of the creek.....FISHING. The nerve of some people! Here was someone standing on private property fishing in the 149 acre farms half of the creek without permission. For a little while the fellow watched the trespasser try to catch something but to no avail. The 5 gallon bucket half full of Trout probably had some bearing on his poor fishing in that spot. After a few minutes the fellow with the fish dug a rock out of the creek bank and heaved it in the creek directly in front of the trespasser. When that happened the trespasser jumped back and kind of moved his head forward like a deer would when it senses danger and saw the figure of the young fellow on the opposite side. Standing there kind of stunned he remained 100% motionless until someone just a little farther upstream said in a kind of soft voice.....”did you catch something?” That's when it must have dawned on him that his buddy can't be standing up stream asking him questions and be directly across from him at the same time. Doing an about face at 100 miles an hour he ran headlong into the 50 yard patch of razor wire and buggy whips. Seizing upon a golden opportunity the guy with the fish yelled for his companions to help catch the trespassers, not realizing they were not even in the same county by then. At the top of his lungs he yelled CATCH EM....CATCH EM, THERE GETTING AWAY HEAD EM OFF. All the while the two trespassers were clawing digging pawing their way through the green briar patch. The best way to describe the sound was a cross between scratching your fingernails on a chalkboard and the sound that's made in a cowboy movie when a cowboy gets shot and they rip his pants or shirt off to get to the bullet hole. Both the tearing of the shirt and the extraction of the bullet fragments. Often wondered why they didn't just unbutton the shirt. Kind of like a fireman who rushes to a fire and the first thing they do is either climb up on the roof and start chopping a hole in the roof or start tearing the siding off the house to get inside. I have often wondered if there is something in their contract against going through doors.

After unknown period of time, seemed like only a second to the guy holding the fish but I bet is seemed a tad longer to the guys clawing their way through the razor wire, the fellows reached their car. The driver jumped into the car and getting it started floored it. The other poor fellow had almost made it in when the car lurched ahead like a rocket. The last sighting of the fellows was the driver laying completely horizontal desperately pulling on the other guy trying to get him inside all the while his foot was mashed down until on the gas peddle as hard as he could push. Then the fellow with the fish just strolled back to the farm with his fish. It wasn't until three days later the other two fellows found their way out of the woods.

I have told this story many many times and often thought about the two fellows running through the green briars. In my minds eye I can envision the emergency room that night as the trespassers tried to explain to the doctor just what happened. I can also envision some day telling the story and seeing some fellow with rugged complexion and deep scars on his face sitting in the audience. Hence the omission of names will continue.

MH

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