My little brother, Dick, and I decided to go fishing at the Salamonie Lake in northern Indiana. We stopped and picked up the required fishing license, some food and drinks, red worms and a bucket of minnows to entice the fish to our hook. Because it was late afternoon when we arrived we quickly found a primitive camping spot on top of a hill overlooking the lake. Laying out our sleeping bags and gathering wood limbs for the campfire, the camp was readied. Grabbing our poles and tackle boxes we headed downhill to the lake and fished for a few minutes before dark—we caught nothing. Arriving back at camp the prepared fire pit was lit and we pulled out hamburger meat and began frying.
Now, I don’t know if you have ever experienced the joys of primitive camping or not. There are so many unexpected things that you cannot prepare for, or, for that matter, do anything about. As we began frying our burgers the firelight brought the arrival of hundreds of large beetles. Flying above the light, and sometimes too close to the fire, they would pop and fall into the frying pan. Dick was cooking, so he flipped them right out on the ground while another fell in the pan. I must say it was one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. It must’ve been the bug juice.
There is nothing I enjoy more than being outdoors, in a secluded location, enjoying the peace and quiet of brotherly conversation. We talked into the night. Once we realized that if we were going to get up at the crack of dawn and feed the fish a few gold-plated Eagles Claw hooks with a worm of minnow attached we fell asleep.
The tree-covered night was pitch black when all hell broke loose. Sounds of a war zone competed with fear and trepidation when it entered the camp. Startled from our sleep with the ripping and shredding of a peaceful nights sleep in these woods terrified us. There was nothing we could do but lay still and wait on death to suck the last pant of breath from our lungs. Neither of us had a gun. Dick lay in his sleeping bag with our only defense, a long machete. Of course, that was no comfort to me as I didn’t know Dick had it with him. Even if I had, how would that help me, if I was chosen first? We had flashlights but could not turn them on; we certainly did not want this enormous creature to know our locations.
We were paralyzed to move. Not a noise was made as the clamor grew into louder racket emulating raucous reverberations of destruction. What ever was coming our way meant business. The horror and vulnerability of being reduced to chicken feed intensified, bringing with it panicky thoughts of extermination.
The clatter of pandemonium stopped as fast as it had begun. We did not move until the morning twilight began its revelation of stately trees. They covered the moon and stars through the night yet witnessed this ceremony of venomous hysteria. If only the trees could talk and tell me if the demon was gone, then, perhaps, I could get up. Dick climbed out of his sleeping bag, looked around and started laughing. I followed his lead and pulled myself from the safety of a warm bag, stood, and chuckled along with him.
I believe the bug juice flavored burgers was the first thing that alerted this devil to our location. But, the sniffing around our camp and destroying a Styrofoam minnow bucket made that little raccoon’s night. While he ripped and shredded, scaring us senseless, and feasted on fresh minnow, Dick and I each had a penitent conversation with our Maker. Don’t you laugh, unless you’ve been in our camp.