Outdoors: Red and yellow a bad combination
by Charles Johnson
Special to The Star
Sep 24, 2013 | 1514 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many outdoorsmen follow the phrase “always expect the unexpected.”

When venturing into the outdoor world, I always try to be prepared. I generally bring along extra water, snacks and other essentials, depending on the excursion at hand. You never know what lies around the next bend in the stream or curve in the trail.

But, sometimes it is the little things, or a bunch of little things together that can quickly derail the best laid plans. One recent morning, I decided to take advantage of the cool weather and complete some bush-hogging duties around our hunting property. Nothing really major. I just needed to cut a couple of food plots and trim back some weeds along the roads and trails.

After a couple of hours of generally uneventful brush cutting on my little red tractor, I decided to cut brush out of an old skidder trail that had grown up. The area consisted of mixed hardwoods with a few pines mingled in. Some of the undergrowth was small trees in the 1- to 2-diameter variety.

I had cut about 100 yards up the ridge when two medium size pine trees prevented me from continuing. Do you remember the unexpected thing? I raised the bush hog and commenced to reverse my path and head back down the ridge. Suddenly I felt stinging and biting around my head and neck and arms.

Yellow jackets!

My only option was to flee the scene, expediently as possible. I leaped from the tractor with a swarm of midget F-16s locked-on and firing, on me. In a matter of seconds I was more than 50 yards from the tractor and home base of the buzzing fighters.

I dashed through the woods with such a fevered velocity, the trees were only a blur as I passed. Once a safe distance from the attack site, if there is such a thing, I attempted to regain my composure and survey the damage to my body. With the exhilaration of running, which is not my forte, I was unable to count past 10 stings. But, with the pain surging through my body I’m sure it was somewhere fewer than 37. Or it at least felt like it.

Then I realized I had abandoned the tractor with the engine running and the bush hog still engaged. I went into stealth mode to approach the tractor and attempt to shut down the red monster that was tormenting the helpless yellow jackets.

Using a leafy branch as a shield I snuck in to the tractor controls and cut the engine. Of course some of the circling jackets did not understand my attempt to free them from the red monster. A few more of the buzzing fighters decided to mount a second attack. Fortunately, only three more scored on my already battered body.

I surveyed my options. I could go back to the tractor and rocket fighter launch site for round three or wait them out. Waiting was a wise decision. I took a leisurely half-mile stroll back to my vehicle for some water and a snack. Giving the jackets plenty of time to cool their jets.

After a long, long while, I retrieved my little red tractor without further incidence and headed home to medicate my wounds.

Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at ChrJohn7@aol.com

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Outdoors: Red and yellow a bad combination by Charles Johnson
Special to The Star

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