Days Gone Bye: Critters I Have Known

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Missing some of the adventure and excitement of earlier life, I conducted a little recon by canoe down the ol’ Chickasaw Bogue the other day, as I have many times in an eight-foot pram with homemade oars. Even took my Ma with me one time around 1957. 

        Back when Daddy, Billy, and I fished that creek, we’d see good-sized cottonmouths, loggerhead turtles, and a few beaver slides way back then.

        Well, anyhow, back to my mission in that 17-foot Indian mode of transportation that I hoisted up on top of the truck so Alice could let me out at the Demopolis Bridge north of Linden. Well, Sir, I’d been paddling along, singing a song, and enjoying myself when I came around a sharp bend in that creek.

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        My jaw dropped, and I remember thinking to myself, “Hey, where the Sam Hill am I?” To my amazement, there was an 8 to 10-foot alligator laying up on a sandbar, which did not seem to fit in with the décor of the Bogue I’d always known.

        That durn thing reared up and took off lickety-split in the murky water just in front of me. Real narrow from bank to bank right there, and only about three feet deep, and I sho was wandering just where he went, and explaining to myself that wherever he wanted to be, I wanted to be someplace else altogether. I recollect exclaiming out loud, “Paddle, don’t fail me now!” I then began in earnest to vacate that critter’s area of operations. 

        Hey, y’all remember the first armadillo you ever saw?

I was driving a jeep at Camp Shelby round about the 60s, and I spotted one ambling ‘cross the road. I figured I’d get out and catch that strange guy.

Shoot, they can run, and now they run all over these parts up here.

        Somebody decided to transport those Neutras into Mobile Bay for some reason or another. Might have been the same fellow that planted kudzu around here. Anyhow, Neutras and kudzu abound. Saw a Neutra in my slough the other day.

        Whitetail deer. Now, many of y’all figure that because we have so many around here, they must have always been here. Tain’t so.

Daddy bagged his first buck in 1952.

Hauled him to town in the trunk of the car, and folks came out of all the stores to gander at that eight-point critter. It was a curiosity in those days, believe it or not.

        Where’s the most snakes you ever saw. My son, Tadd, and I were paddling the canoe in the Black Warrior River one night, and here came what looked like 50 to 100 snakes, rearing up in the water and looking like they were bound to slither into that craft with us, but they decided not to try to  outrun us when they heard us exclaim, “Paddles, don’t fail us now!”

        Well, sure, I know some of y’all have spotted gators in this area before the turn of the century…but in our little ol’ Bogue, and such a big ‘un to boot? I was just not ready for that experience at that time and place if you get my drift…or paddle. 

        We have acquired a few strange critters that might sneak up on you sometimes, but it’s an adventure. Enjoy it, and then tuck it into your memory bank to tell about another day. Shucks, why you might even decide to add a few feet length to the last gator you spotted.

At least, you say that’s the way you remember it, which fits in pretty good with this column writing, on account of when I write about stuff way back yonder, there are not that many folks still living or with good minds who can dispute what I say I remember. Fun, ain’t it?