Some weird hunting season must be in full swing here in the Florida panhandle. My friend Lee Ann, visiting from Indiana, and I discovered this on our return from Apalachicola on Saturday afternoon.
We’d driven down to eat lunch at a little restaurant called The Owl (I highly recommend this charming place where the waitress said she’d be back to ‘water us’ before taking our order). After our wonderful meal–Lee Ann had a grouper sandwich; I had a crab and shrimp salad–we wandered around the quaint downtown area spending money and making witty repartee.
No trip to the Gulf would be complete without a visit to St. George Island, so even though the temps were in the mid-40’s Lee Ann and I walked on the beach for a bit before heading home.
Instead of taking my well-worn path back to Tallahassee through Sopchoppy and Crawfordville, I turned towards the tiny burgs of Sumatra, Wilma, and Clio. All three are one-blink towns: blink once and you’ll miss them. This road is almost completely enveloped in pine forest, with occasional glimpses of swampland.
Just past Sumatra we noticed a trio of 4-wheel drive pickup trucks being driven erratically on the grassy area beside the main road. Lee Ann and I both wondered aloud just what was wrong with those um, knot heads. A little further along we realized what was wrong: Hunting Fever.
Hound dogs, armed camouflage clad men, and pickup trucks abounded. The testosterone glimmered all around us, like hairy legged fairy dust. We even spotted one hunter standing on the tool box of his truck, rifle at the ready. Instinctively I ducked thinking we would feel a bullet whiz past at any minute. It was madness, I tell you, madness!
After stopping for a bathroom break in Hosford we turned north towards Tallahassee. Not far beyond the Hosford city limits sign we came up on a group of pickup trucks parked next to a bridge. A man wearing a bright orange hunting vest over the requisite camouflage ensemble stepped into the road and began gesticulating wildly. Even though his intended message wasn’t clear we slowed down just in case he was attempting to warn us about a large herd of elephants on the highway.
A reduction in our speed must have been his goal since we received a cheerful thumbs up from Mr. Orange Vest. We soon saw a hunting hound apparently hot on the trail of some prey, nose to the ground heading off the road and into the brush. Had we not slowed down we might have hit the little guy. Thanks Mr. Orange Vest!
Lee Ann and I never did figure out what was being hunted so exuberantly yesterday. We did see deer placidly grazing along our route, so that didn’t seem likely. Whatever it was I hope most of them successfully evaded the hunters, and that no dogs or hunters were injured in the process.