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Spotting the wild whistle pig

Nature’s creatures have a funny way of showing up when you least expect them.  I have been in the woods all my life and have seen most of the local fauna and flora this area has to offer.  On this particular day, however fate placed a creature in my path that I had never seen outside (or inside) a cage.  Now you won’t believe this, but I swear we saw a wild whistle pig.
    A group of us were playing golf in a tournament near Homer, Georgia in Banks County.  My partners witnessed this as well, but only one is credible.   Kenny Moore, Steve Cisson and Reverend Tom Duff were my partners on this day and you can probably imagine which one of these would serve as my notary public if I was called upon to take an oath as to the truth of these events.
    These were the circumstances of the sighting.  As we were finishing the fifteenth hole on the far reaches of the course, I saw some movement in the trees behind us.  As I swung around to get a better look a hairy, brown animal about two feet long shot up a sweet gum tree and stopped dead still.  I have seen lots of different animals climb trees, but this was no raccoon, squirrel, or bobcat.  It looked like a beaver with no tail.
    I pointed out the animal to my partners and golf was put on hold for a moment while we looked to see what it was.  Coach Moore, with his naturally inquisitive mind said, “Let’s play golf.”  Reverend Duff sermonized, “Ya’ll gonna play golf or go hunting?”  Now being the Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn of the group, Cisson and I decided to check it out.  Unfazed by our partner’s sarcasm and lack of curiosity, we moved in on the animal in question.  As we moved in closer, I expected the thing to go on up in the tree out of sight.  Such was not the case.  It stayed perfectly still about six or seven feet up the tree.  This led me to believe we might be slinking up on something that was very bold and mean.  As we moved still nearer I began to have doubts about our course of action.
    As we advanced on our quarry (the pace had slowed by now as cowardice crept in) I was glad that two golf clubs were still in my hand.  Cisson said, “Let me have that pitching wedge,” and I gave him the smaller of the two weapons available to me.  By now we were right beside the thing.  Steve poked it with the business end of the club (as small boys will tend to do) and I steadied myself for what might come next.  Praying that the stout looking animal would scurry up the tree, I was stunned to see it do exactly the opposite and began to quickly come down the tree.  This was not what I had hoped for so I cocked my weapon for action.  Fortunately, it ran meekly away from us and down into a culvert making a sound I would not want to hear if alone in a dark house.
    I asked Steve what he thought it was.  He said it was a groundhog but I did not believe him.  As soon as I got home I looked it up on Brittanica.com and sure enough it gave an exact description of what we had seen.  The audio portion of the file was a duplicate of the sound it had made.  The encyclopedia also said ground hogs are otherwise known as woodchucks or whistle pigs.  If you don’t believe me you could look it up.

    Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at dar8589@bellsouth.net.

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