Shots in the Dark

The other night, Abbi, our Huskey mix began pacing and acting restless, as if she wanted out. I don’t allow the big dogs to roam at night since losing Emma, so I tried to calm Abbi and told her to lie down.

It was time to take Molly and Dakota outside before we went to bed.

Just as they finished their business, pop, pop, pop!

The dogs perked up and the noise startled me so that I hurried them into the house without even trying to assess what it was or where it was coming from.

“I just heard noises outside,” I told my husband. “Pounding or something.”

He rolled his eyes and headed out the door, convinced I had scared myself with the latest episode of one of those ghost hunting shows.

I picked up the phone and called my aunt to see if her husband might be out in his garage hammering on something. I doubted it at 9 o’clock and I was right.

As Dale hung out on the party deck listening and then moved to the covered front porch, I finished getting ready for bed.

Just as he came back in to report they were gunshots, my aunt called with the same conclusion. It was then evident why Abbi was so restless, she hates gunfire.

“It’s down below us, I think,” she said. “Toward the point or maybe even on the other side of the cove.”

In the mountains, sounds travel strangely and sometimes we cannot even tell from which direction they’re coming.

The good thing about living on a beautiful, large lake is also the worst thing.

Other people come here too, only they are sometimes not seeking the peace and quiet or seclusion of the area.

We’re no strangers to firearms, they are a necessity here in the wilds of the mountains and shots are also not uncommon as people do target practice, but not in the dark of night. It made me very uneasy.

Pre-dawn the next morning, as I sat working away in The Belle Writer’s Studio, one car flew up the road, which alarmed me, because the dogs were out. We typically don’t have to worry about traffic on this road, especially that early in the morning. I heard the big dogs stir on the porch of the studio, but they didn’t run after the car, thankfully, and I herded them all back in.

About 20 minutes later, a second car sped up the hill past our house. Dale had already left for work and I knew whoever it was did not live here. What were they doing out so early (or late, depending on one’s state of mind, I suppose) and why where they here?

I shuddered remembering the night back in the city when a drugged up 6-foot-plus-tall young man walked into our house at 4 a.m. looking for “the party.”

I mentally reminded myself of where my own loaded protection was.

Camping is illegal at the end of our point, on the Corps of Engineers property, but that doesn’t matter to some, we’ve found evidence of people camping illegally on the shore less than 100 yards from our house.

Our weekender neighbors have also been broken into more than once during hunting season.

And we thought we only had to worry about people and gunplay in the city ‘hoods.

What sounds scare you in your neighborhood at night?

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24 Responses

  1. We have a patch of giant bamboo below us. In the wind, the bamboo clacks together and always makes us wonder if someone is out there.

  2. Goodness. There’s a big to do in our area about what to do about the growing deer population. Some people are in favor of hunting them–in the suburbs.

    • Kerri says:

      They have had limited hunts within the city limits in towns around here too. Unfortunately, humans have tipped the scale allowing some populations of animals to overpopulate, making them subject to disease and starvation. In those instances, I’m a proponent of hunting.

  3. Sandy says:

    “Time honored traditions” also include respect, which is not what was happening in your situation. Bottom line – whomever was shooting that late at night and driving like that was up to no good.

    Living in rural Northern Minnesota, I accept that I need to put orange vests on my dogs and I do not go out for walks during hunting season – it is not worth the risk. What I do not accept are people hunting illegaly and “shining”.

    I am certainly not against guns – I’m a good shot myself. My dad was an instructor in the Army during the Korean War and taught me. I learned from the best. The first and most important thing learned and constantly emphasized was SAFETY!!

    • Kerri says:

      Exactly, Sandy. Thank you. There is absolutely no reason, hunting season or not, to be out shooting that late at night. Particularly when we know there are no lighted ranges around here, even on private land.

  4. Az says:

    Oh my gosh! Not people hunting in a rural area! OMG we should all get together and ban firearms and hunting all together! Evil black guns! Evil black guns! Lock the doors, close the shutters EVIL BLACK GUNS!

    You people make me laugh. If you move to a rural area, accept time honored traditions.
    Do not try to make the local populace conform to your ideals, or you will end up making powerful enemies.

    • Kerri says:

      Az, first of all, no one ever said anything against legal hunting. I even commented that I am for hunter’s rights, as long as they are doing it legally and not acting like a bunch of idiots, many of which we’ve seen down here. Yes, our land is protected, as is my aunt’s adjoining 40 acres, because we do not hunt, nor do we want .223’s flying around our homes and pets. Second, I never said we are anti-gun. My husband has a range here and both of us are card carrying concealed carry proponents. What I have a problem with is someone shooting in the dark of night (which isn’t legal, even during hunting season, which this is not!) We have a terrible problem here with the meth trade and with people illegally camping on property adjoining homes. That was my concern with hearing shots in the night. What I am against are people who are irresponsible with both the hunting laws and the guns, and I don’t care who was here first.

      • I don’t know what part of the country “AZ” is from, but most of my family live in rural areas, my parents lived on the farm until retirement and my husband and I have owned 105 acres in Missouri for the past eleven years. Prior to that, we enjoyed spending time with the many family members who live in the country, most of whom hunt, legally and responsibly.

        There is no “time honored tradition” out in the country, of tolerating trespassing and illegal hunting. In fact, my rural friends and family members would be highly offended at the idea that somebody thinks just because they live out in a rural area, they’re ignorant of laws and are gun toting hillbilly’s with no respect for the property rights of neighbors. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the “time honored tradition” with regard to hunting on somebody else’s land, is getting permission, then showing respect for the land owner by not leaving beer cans strewn around in the woods.

        In fact, before we moved to our land and started living here, it was our friends and neighbors who let us know if they spotted a strange car or truck driving on our property. As Kerri stated repeatedly in her posts, people who hunt legally are not the problem and I don’t care if people want to shoot guns either, as long as they aren’t irresponsible drunks who break the law. The problem, at least in this area, is with people who don’t live around here but think they have the right to trespass and poach game with no concern for the rights of property owners.

        • Kerri says:

          And if their “time honored traditions” include running around with beer coolers and guns, then maybe they should work half of their lives to be able to afford the land for themselves. Then, they can have the right to do all the “time honored traditions” they wish on their own property.

    • Kerri says:

      And I’m not sure if you mean, “Making the local populace conform to your ideals or you will make powerful enemies,” means we should bow down and allow people to hunt on our land. But if it does, I’m not sure where you’re from, Az, but property ownership rights are one of the things we hold dear in this country. We worked our asses off to get here and if I don’t, or my aunt doesn’t, want people hunting our land, we have every right not to give them permission to do so. They do not, however, have the right to threaten to come back and burn our f&*cking houses down. That, my friend, will make powerful enemies out of us and they may find themselves on the business end of our guns.

  5. Jane Boursaw says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with guns. I hate them overall, because of all the damage and tragedies they cause. On the other hand, I’ve always had this urge to learn how to shoot one. I dunno, maybe they somehow go hand in hand.

    We live in hunting country, and I’m always hoping the deer and other animals will flock to our land where they’re protected and won’t be shot.

    • Kerri says:

      We have a lot of deer that come to our property and wander, even when it is not hunting season, Jane. My husband hunted when we were kids and for awhile into his 20s, but he just doesn’t have the need to kill anything. He is a gun lover and since I practically grew up with him (we started dating when I was 15), I do not have a fear of guns and I’ve always known how to use one and have one for protection. The night that kid came into our house was the closest either of us has ever had to come to using one. I knew then it was time to leave the city. We just don’t want trouble to come to us here either.

  6. Kim says:

    The only thing that frightens me at night is storms. I have a touch of post-traumatic stress disorder from living through three hurricanes in one year in 2004 in Orlando. If I hear those telltale first gusts of wind hit the house, I usually end up downstairs checking weather websites and refreshing the radar views obsessively until the worst is over. I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever get to sleep through a thunderstorm again. 🙂

    Gunshots at night, though, would definitely make the list. Kerri, we have a friend at church whose dad is on the drug task force with the police here… she tells stories that make my hair stand on edge. You’re smart to take those precautions… seems like the worst criminals in our area hide out in the hills rather than living in town. She said that Winter’s Bone was NOT an exaggeration of that world.

    I’m not interested in hunting myself, but I know many families here that make that meat a major part of their diet through the winter. In that case, I support their right to do so… in the legal places at legal times.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, Kim, you’ve scared me more telling me about Winter’s Bone. 🙂 I’m sorry you have that with thunderstorms, that must be terrible. I’m glad I’ve never been through a hurricane.
      I also believe hunters have the right to legally and humanely kill whatever is in season, but I’m with you, on proper property and if they are responsible.

  7. mat says:

    I thought the crickets were going to eat the house last night–I’ve never heard them chirp so loudly. Must’ve been thousands in our yard! Maybe that’s who’s been eating my sad little tomato crop.

    I think some threat of people acting stupidly/illegally exists everywhere. I mean, in the US, it’s all highly sensationalized, but….

    We live in, admittedly, a town with a poor reputation. Our street is very nice, kind of on the border between the old, crumbly, higher-density core district and a nicer, newer (built in the 50s) district. About a year after we moved in, some thugs showed up at a house across the street from us one night and beat the occupant with a baseball bat on his front porch. Naturally, we all called the police and the perpetrators were arrested, etc. Not pleasant on a street populated almost entirely by young families. But life goes on and we continue to watch out for our neighbors and their kids…and the watch is reciprocated. I don’t think you find that everywhere anymore.
    I think that largely, the threats are the same no matter where you go. Drugs and guns, right?

    • Kerri says:

      You’re right, stupid people, are unfortunately, everywhere. I’m sorry your neighborhood had to go through that. But yes, guns and drugs is typically the problem and that’s what I worry about out here. While I didn’t like the general portrayal of the Ozarks in the movie, Winter’s Bone, there is no doubt that there is a huge meth problem in these mountains and the crimes that typically follow that trade – home invasions, robberies, murders, etc. are a part of this culture. When we moved out here, Dale wouldn’t even lock the doors at night. That is, until we saw reports on the news of enough of these rural homes being broken into and often times, the occupants or invaders or both killed.

  8. I really relate to this post,Kerri. There is definitely irony in moving to the country for peace and serenity, only to be surrounded by gunfire as fall hunting season approaches. People around our land are already target shooting and it’s really unnerving to me.

    Most of the land surrounding ours is in small acreage parcels of thirty or forty acres. So when I hear those gun shots, I always wonder how many bullets end up on our land and worry that someday a stray one could hit David or I as we’re out walking.

    The first few years we owned our land, we would find spent shotgun shells and sometimes beer cans, following hunting season, so we knew people were hunting illegally on our property. It’s pretty hard to hunt on only thirty or forty acres, so they would come onto our property where there is lots of timber and plenty of deer. Made me SO mad.

    We put up lots of “no hunting” signs and also started camping at our land during the opening week of deer season and we think word got around that our property was no longer sitting vacant during hunting season. We haven’t had problems in the last seven or eight years, but it used to make me so mad to find litter and shotgun shells while out walking.

    I actually came up with an idea for a “trap” to catch poachers who trespassed and hunted on our land. Not far from here is a large cat sanctuary, a rescue facility for tigers, lions, and other large cats that have been saved from circuses, zoos and even idiots that buy them on the black market as babies, then let them loose when the animal reaches 200 pounds and can’t be managed.

    I considered asking to “borrow” a large tiger from the sanctuary. My plan was to dig a deep pit on our land, in the middle of the woods, then put the tiger inside and cover it over with branches and leaves. The finishing touch would be to carefully set a six pack of beer right on top and wait for the first thirsty hunter to come along!

    Hahaha- maybe I watched too many Tarzan movies as a kid, but seemed like a good idea at the time!

    • Kerri says:

      I can see where close target shooting would unnerve you, Kathy. We are far enough away from other people’s land that target shooting does not bother me when I hear it in the distance. Dale has his own range here. It is unnerving to have people hunting on corps land (they are not supposed to if within 500 yards of homes and we are) or when hunters used to come onto our property. My aunt had the same issues regarding her land. I think I’ve told you before that first year hunters showed up and she told them there was no hunting there. They told her they had been hunting there for generations, at which she replied they had, then, been hunting there for at least a decade illegally. They then proceeded to threaten to come back and burn her f*@%ing house down. Nice. Anyway, people shooting at night is unnerving. You cannot see 2 feet in front of your face here in the dark, no telling what or who they could have hit.

      • That must have been frightening for your aunt, Kerri. It’s too bad that there are people who have no respect for law or for the property of others. There are people in my family who hunt, but they obey the law, only hunt on land where they have permission and they don’t toss empty beer cans on the ground. We’ve been told by Conservation agents that it would be a good idea to allow at least limited hunting of deer on our land, where we have a native prairie remnant. Deer browse on certain plants and leave others alone, so over time, can have a negative impact on plant diversity, giving certain species an advantage and diminishing the numbers of others. I was reluctant about the idea at first, but now think I might allow my brother Pat, hunting privileges. And even though I’ve never liked venison, I’m beginning to think that if I eat any meat at all, maybe wild game is the healthiest.

        • mat says:

          http://www.venisonrecipes.net/

          The best venison stew I’ve ever eaten had been cooked literally for days, on an American Indian Reservation up in northern PA. The idea makes me all nostalgic….

          • Kerri says:

            Well, you know how I feel about the conservation departments, in general,Kathleen. It doesn’t surprise me that they advocate hunting since the licenses they sell benefits them directly. Our land, as well as my aunt’s is now set aside as state wildlife habitat. Anyone caught hunting here now will pay a hefty fine. As for the meat, I’m looking to continue to decrease my consumption, personally, not add another variety to it. Certain meats to me are like an addiction and I although I didn’t like deer the first time and only time I tried it, I sure don’t want to add anymore to my tastes.

  9. Olivia says:

    Only the wind. The howling, shrieking, roaring like a freight train wind that comes with wild nor’easters or hurricanes. It terrifies me.

    Other than that we are fortunate to live on a peaceful little island where a gunshot is rarely heard – maybe the odd duckhunter in the fall but very rare. Gun ownership is very tightly controlled in Canada and most guns are “long guns” used only for hunting as long as one has a permit. There is nothing to hunt on our island except for the aforementioned wildfowl and people rarely bother.

    But that wind………………..it’s something else.

    • Kerri says:

      I’ve not been through a hurricane or a Nor’easter, but I have been close to a couple of tornadoes so I can only imagine.

      Stay safe up there on your little island, Olivia!