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Outdoor Life - Close encounters of the worst kind in the outdoors
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I’m pretty sure a voodoo woman put a hex on me somewhere in the distant past.
    I say that because no matter where I go or what I do trouble follows; especially if I’m outdoors. Nature has a way of throwing me a wicked curve on the outer half of the plate when I’m looking for a fastball right down the middle. The result is usually a whiff and an embarrassing strikeout.
    Though this space is not nearly big enough for me to list all the catastrophes, calamities, misfortunes and downright tragedies I’ve encountered while messing around outdoors, perhaps I can at least give you a flavor for the kind of curse that is my constant companion. Some of the major categories that give me particular trouble are hunting, fishing, dogs, and even domesticated barnyard animals.
    For example, while fishing on the deep, blue sea I was once unfortunate enough to fall into barracuda-infested waters. If you are unfamiliar with this species of ocean-dwelling predator, they have razor-sharp teeth and the tendency to attack (with the intent of eating) anything that enters their territory. For the sake of accuracy, I should probably amend my statement about falling in. I actually toppled over the boat gunwale and gravity sent me downward but such was my motivation to avoid a swimming excursion with the toothy critters below that I barely got my ankles wet. Thus, I became only the second person in history to successfully walk on water.
    I’ve had many a run in with dogs, and have actually had to classify them into separate categories just to keep them straight. There have been incidents with pet dogs, mean dogs and skunk dogs just to give you a sampling. Typically, my pet dogs go and get themselves lost at least once a week. I go to find them in the woods and wind up covered with ticks and poison ivy. 
    Mean dogs fall into two major groupings: those that snarl fiercely at you and then proceed to gnaw your leg off, and those who sneak up from behind without any warning and gnaw your leg off. I much prefer those who fire a warning shot over my bow. At least there’s an opportunity at a running start and a fighting chance to shimmy up a tree. I’m pretty secure in the knowledge that the hex lady made sure all dogs hate me.
    Then there are skunk dogs that also pull double-duty as my pet dogs. They go to the woods in search of adventure and find it in the form of a skunk. They never get lost following skunk encounters and head straight home after having received an industrial-strength dosage of musk. They then proceed to jump up on me wanting a hug and there you go. That particular aroma stays with you for at least a week and requires an extended stay in the camper since I’m not allowed inside the house until my cleansing is complete.
    I’ve also had serious encounters on the golf course with foreign-looking animals. I once ran into a creature that was large, furry and made horrible sounds. I had no idea if it was dangerous or not and after it scurried up a tree I thought I was no longer in peril. At that point my old hex kicked in. I had an irresistible urge to get a closer look and approached the beast (even though I had a pitching wedge as a weapon). The thing actually came scuttling out of the tree making one of the most hideous noises I’d ever heard. Never got a good look after that since my peripheral vision did not include things that far directly behind me. Figured out later on that it was a whistle pig. I’ll let you look that one up.
    Then there’s domesticated cattle. More specifically, bulls. I’ve never met one that didn’t want to stomp me in the dirt for invading his watering hole. Heck, I just wanted to go fishing and you’d think I was trying to steal one of his girls out of the pasture. I’ve had so many encounters with these guys that I’m pretty sure I could get hired on in Spain as a bull fighter. Certainly have plenty of experience.
    I’ve even had trouble with pet rabbits. I gave my daughters a little bunny once and it turned into an escape artist on par with Houdini. No matter what I did the sucker would get loose and always wind up under the deck. I’d have to go crawling under there to recapture him and he’d just about scratch my eyes out.
    So the hex lives on and thus my outdoor excursions are nearly always tainted with some kind of misfortune. I wish these things weren’t true but I can’t lie to you about it. Oh, I forgot about the snake category but that’s a whole ‘nother set of stories, and the voodoo lady is still smirking over those incidents.
    Alvin Richardson may be reached at