Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Under the Cover of Darkness

I thought it was a good idea to begin with, but I had my first doubts when it became obvious that my brother-in-law had never been in a canoe before, seeing as how he tried to step into it, like he was boarding a pontoon boat. Not only that, but he was also the one with the shotgun, loaded to the gills with buckshot, and I knew from experience that he was more careless with one than my five year old son would've been. Piss poor judgment on my part.

We had a major beaver problem on our hands, or actually, in the creek that forms the boundary of our property. The beavers had built a series of dams and backed up water, creating stagnant ponds that would later serve as a giant mosquito hatchery. I'm not sure why we felt it was up to us to "put a stop" to this activity, but I'm pretty sure that it was mostly because we were bored. My brother-in-law had borrowed some beaver traps a couple of months before, and after a few setbacks-- like having to figure out how to remove his injured foot from one of said traps, after he accidently stuck the toe of his rubber boot through enough to trip it off-- we caught one. We even busted two of the dams enough to let some water out, but the beavers repaired them in a couple of days. So I suppose that's where the shotgun came in.

I'd bought my canoe the summer before, without any preconceived notions that I would use it in a swollen creek at night to launch a full-on assault on a colony of beavers. When I bought it, I had something a little more sane in mind, like say, fishing.

We used our Wheat lights to guide us to the ambush point, about thirty yards upstream from the big dam. I served as navigator, with my brother-in-law on point in front of the canoe. We got close, and I held on to an overhanging limb to steady us. I slipped the yellow nylon rope around it  and tied us off. We turned out our lights and waited. And waited.

After sitting for two hours in a canoe, your legs hurt. Mine had went to sleep and woke back up thirty times, and he said that he believed that he was paralyzed from the waist down. Now, keep in mind I'm a big boy, and he was bigger than me at that time. I think the weight limit was 350, so we were about 300lbs overweight.

As we were about to abort the mission, a big ripple moved across the surface the water, and the block head of a big beaver was swimming right towards us. My big brother-in-law didn't give any warning, or give me a chance to steady the boat. He raised the gun and then shifted his weight suddenly to twist his body so he could make the shot, which threw us off balance. The last thing I remembered before going over backwards into the cold water was the shotgun going off. The next thing I knew, my comrade was fishing around for the shotgun which was down in the bottom of the creek. After going under completely, he came up with it. "I got it!" he said. Great.

There was no beaver to show for our efforts, in fact, I'm positive by that time it was back in its cozy lodge. We had a time getting my canoe out of the creek and I'm pretty sure I had stagnant water in my lungs that would eventually turn into pneumonia. When we got back to his house that night, he asked if we were going to try again sometime. I just said goodnight and went on home to dry out.

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