TED BUNDY—it’s a name that invokes horror some 40 years after his despicable reign of terror. And that was the name carved into a tree deep in a national forest in Utah where Josh Slone was bowhunting mule deer.
“It was an old inscription and it was chilling, especially knowing Bundy lived in Utah and killed people there,” Slone said.
There are other alleged Bundy tree carvings, but this one was far, far off the beaten path. Had one of the most evil people who ever walked the planet actually carved that into the tree?
There is no way to tell, but there is no question that bad people often do the worst things in remote places. I recently wrote about this at fishgame.com and got a huge response, so I decided to expand on it here.
A couple of years ago someone asked me “What was the most dangerous thing to encounter in the woods?”.
I’ve written and broadcasted extensively on cougars, snakes, feral hogs and bears, so they were expecting one of those as the answer.
“People, ” I said. “There is nothing more dangerous than people, especially in remote forests and mountainous regions.”
The answer came from collecting stories as a journalist over the years and my own personal experiences, which I will discuss in upcoming posts and broadcasts.
The stories are omnipresent.
Take for example, the caller to my radio program, Moore Outdoors on Newstalk AM 560, KLVI. He found a body burning while teal hunting with his son south of Houston.
Another caller revealed that in the ’70s he and his father were out night fishing near High Island, Texas when he saw someone against the shoreline burying something and decided to leave. Turns out it was monstrous killer, Dean Corll, who tortured and killed dozens of boys east of Houston.
Remote areas are often the most peaceful, but because of the isolation, can be extremely dangerous. My goal is to educate people about what can happen in these areas and how to be prepared, so all deep woods hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing trips are safe.
That will require bringing to light some uncomfortable facts. It will also involve creating a system of proactive safety.
I see these human-related threats falling into four categories:
Idiot Hunters: These are rare, unethical, clueless hunters who should not be in the woods (and give the rest of us a bad name). Every year, we hear stories of people shooting someone because they heard something coming through the bushes. Statistically, this is probably the most dangerous human threat because of the widespread numbers of hunters in America.
Poachers: Encountering a poacher in the woods can be dangerous if the poacher assumes you will turn him in—or if you make the mistake of confronting them instead of allowing law enforcement to handle the duties. This is not as dangerous as in Africa where organized crime and even terror cells are involved in high stakes rhino and elephant poaching, but it is a potential threat.
Drug Trade: Finding meth labs and pot farms is not good. People do not want their operations found out and will go to any length to stop someone from squealing.
Predators: This is the highest level of danger—someone hunting humans whether to rape, kill or terrorize.
There is no way to tell whether the Bundy inscription at the beginning of this story was actually carved by that monster. But think about what would have happened if you had stumbled upon him with a knife in his hand.
Would you be ready to defend yourself? Would you even suspect this person?
The corporate wildlife media, both on the hook and bullet and the straight wildlife side, won’t touch this issue. I don’t know whether it’s ignorance—or that they don’t want to spook potential customers and donors.
I, for one, have had enough bizarre and dangerous human encounters to make me keenly aware about what is possible. Anyone who has spent any time with me can attest that I am the most cautious, safe, non-confrontation person you can imagine in the outdoors, but I keep having close calls.
After much evaluation, I have concluded the reason is I have spent much time in very remote spots, including at night when crazy stuff seems to happen. If your entire hunting experience is on a private 10,000-acre ranch with a mansion for a camp, I’m happy for you. However, the chance of running into weirdos isn’t as high for you as it is two miles from the nearest dirt road in the Angelina National Forest.
I’m working on a set of protocols to distribute to outdoor lovers who frequent these kinds of areas and will share them here in TFG and at fishgame.com. I’m still studying a few pieces of technology and game plans that I believe can help save lives.
Additionally, there are lots of questions that need answering, and we will do that here and on my radio program. If you have any scary tales of human encounters in the outdoors, email [email protected]
Email Chester Moore at [email protected]