HORNER’S CORNER: Battling a growing stereotype

Tales from Wolf Camp: At crunch time, the right decision was made

Scum. Dirtbags, outlaws, vile creatures. There have been lots of words used to describe B.C. pot growers in the past and not many of them positive.

But, like most slanders, one has to wonder if perhaps it’s not entirely true. Is it possible that some pot growers are just ordinary folks trying to make a buck by supplying a coveted commodity? Might they occasionally display integrity or even breathtaking valor? Yeah, of course there are dirtbags in every area of endeavor, but here’s a tale from the other side of the ledger:

 

 

The sap was still rising. He could see it beading at the chewed end of the stem.

“Son of a …!”

Deer in the patch – within the last few minutes. He looked again at the mangled end of the plant. At something like $300, it had been an expensive snack.

He scrambled across the rock bluff to his next plant. It too was nipped off.

He had come so far, been through so much. Now this.

It had been a long summer of hard, slogging work, squirreled away at wolf camp, living like a hunted animal.

Wolf camp. It was just an old draft dodger cabin hidden deep in the gloom of the old growth on an unidentified island at a place he liked to call Eucalyptus Bay. His buddy, Simon, had found it the previous summer, abandoned and alone, built not to be seen. Between them they’d scraped together a grubstake and in early spring, ferried everything by boat in the dead of night.

Over the next few weeks they dug up dirt, planted seeds, coddled the seedlings and battled slug attacks. They had  hiked for miles, searching for the perfect spots hauled dirt, then seedlings, taking different routes through the bush each trip to avoid making a trail. It was hot, heavy, sweaty, buggy work but both he and Simon were hooked on the dream: one big payday in the fall.

It was lonely work, with only Simon’s little dog, Sheba, to keep them company. That loneliness got an exclamation point at night, the wolves howled somewhere out in the darkness.

That’s why they called it wolf camp. The grey brotherhood was all around but you never saw them.

Until yesterday, that is. Then they’d been surprised by a big male with a reddish coat, trotting up the trail. That night they’d talked about their encounter.

“Wolves eat dogs,” Simon said. “I’ll leave Sheba at home tomorrow.”

So this morning they had gone their separate ways, him to a patch on a ridge overlooking the cabin, Simon to another patch elsewhere and the dog in the safety of the cabin.

Now this. As he wound his way though the trees to the next plant – also bitten off, he wondered, where’s a wolf when you need one?

And then, at the next plant, there it was, staring at him blankly as it chewed its valuable cud.

“You …!”

The deer startled, but not because of him. It couldn’t care less. What made it jumpy was a sudden outburst of banging and crashing and yipping and yapping and howling and yowling  – from down below at the cabin.

“Sheba!”

It sounded like all the demons from hell had broken loose. There could be only one explanation. Wolves. They were after the dog.

He looked at the deer as it took another mouthful. He looked down the hill.

He picked up a stick and threw it. “Go on! Get out!”

The deer just looked at him, chewing slowly.

“Aaaaaaaah!”

Then he turned and ran for the cabin.

“Leave the #%$&@! Dog alone!” he roared, adrenaline surging as he jumped over logs and ducked branches. When he got to the cabin, the wolves had scattered. They’d left their calling card though — the wood around the dog door was shredded. If the hole had been just a little bit bigger … They kept the dog close after that.

 

 

Taking on a pack of wolves single-handed to rescue a friend’s dog — at significant cost. Works for me.

 

 

 

Neil Horner is a regular columnist

 

 

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