Discovering The Unusual In The Out-of-doors

Spend enough time outdoors and you’re apt to experience some strange encounters.   Take, for instance, my friend, Mitch, who several years back was doing a little fishing on a rural stream when something soon caught his eye in the river.   Nope, it wasn’t the flash of a large fish.   In fact, it turned out to be a cash register tossed from a bridge and now laying submerged in the river bed below.

Many years ago I pulled into a field approach preparing to do some pheasant hunting and again, something out-of-the-ordinary happened to catch my attention.   There, laying in the ditch, partially obscured by tall grass was a red purse.   I approached it cautiously because my mind couldn’t comprehend a plausible reason why it would be there — except for possibly a crime.   As soon as I finished pheasant hunting, I quickly went home and called the sheriff explaining my unusual discovery.

Another friend, while scouting some new territory for deer, happened on a site where a group of “dopers” had obviously been partying quite recently.   Ashes from a campfire remained along with drug paraphernalia was scattered throughout the area.   It appeared almost as if the party-goers got scared off without bothering to ever come back.   Again, concerned these items could wind up once again in the wrong hands…the police were called.

Just last week reported on an incident at the Sherburne wildlife refuge where a person out walking had located a stash of 60 marijuana plants growing.   He subsequently tipped off the authorities so an arrest could be made.   Again, someone stumbled upon something unusual and did their part to become a “crime buster.”

IMG_0419Two weeks ago I allowed my farm to be a training site for various SWAT teams from four different counties in southern Minnesota as they simulated a meth lab bust out in my woods.   As an observer watching the scenario unfold, it was a vivid reminder of the unsuspecting dangers that sometimes lurk in the out-of-doors.   Our law enforcement officials practice and prepare for it, are you ready for such a possible encounter?

Let’s face it, when you go out for some Sunday afternoon squirrel hunting you don’t expect to encounter dangerous criminals cooking meth — but it happens.   The Minnesota DNR even warns outdoor enthusiasts of this potential danger on their website.   Check out the precautionary notice HERE.

The point is there’s a lot of land in Minnesota that hasn’t recently been traipsed on since probably late last fall.   When situations occur, Minnesota hunters can become the eyes and ears to aid our law enforcement agencies in doing their difficult job.   It happens all the time.   Sooner or later it could happen to you.

Moreover, it’s also important to appreciate that criminal activities, such as meth labs, can pose a definite danger as these individuals don’t usually act very rational.   Trust your gut feeling…if a situation just doesn’t seem right get out of the area and report your suspicions to the authorities.

As luck would have it, a person just never knows what type of unusual situation one might encounter when recreating outdoors.   Still, it’s prudent to be somewhat mentally prepared to know how you might want to react when the discovery you just made doesn’t seem to be right.

© 2009 Jim Braaten.   All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.