Saturday, May 22, 2010

Leachy NUTS!

In the Midwest one of the favorite Spring and Summer pastimes is to put in a canoe or raft and take a float trip down a river. Now these trips can be as short or long as you desire and enjoyed upon popular touristy rivers or backwoods ‘Deliverance-type’ waterways. No matter what though, they are REAL rivers with real wildlife all around.

One of my first personal experiences with float trips was as the youngest adventurer of 4 with two jon boats mounted on the back of an old pick-up. Since the bench seat was occupied with adults, I got to surf the wind on those boats around curvy dark roads to where we would ‘put-in’ on the river. Fishing was fun but I was younger and easily distracted, so I always took a handful of rocks from the bank to skip on the quiet waters, as I floated the river with my Grandpa.

Fishing was slow and my Dad and Uncle were in the other boat a couple of hundred yards ahead, when I saw a snake swimming away from our boat 50 or 60 feet to the starboard. I seized on the opportunity to free my pocket of a few of those perfectly weighted and throw-worthy stones. I chucked a first rock at the snake and he did not seem to notice, so I threw another which apparently caught his attention. That sneaky snake reversed direction and started swimming BACK AT our boat at full speed. We were just floating off the opposing bank, in a slow moving eddy current, trying to avoid overhanging trees with our casts.

Well seeing the impending convergence of a black snake and my slow boat to China, just about sent me into a twelve year old panic. I immediately stood up wanting to run but there was nowhere to go. My Grandfather, not knowing that I had antagonized a poisonous Cotton Mouth, a notorious aggressive viper, told me to sit down and not ‘rock the boat’ literally. But I was having none of it and the boat got more and more tipsy by the minute as I kept dancing and getting hit in the face with cob webs and tree limbs. Once I conveyed my problem to my Grandfather, he slapped his paddle in the water and we put some distance between us and the snake as we splashed and churned half the river back on our soon dissuaded pursuer.

On another trip, my daughter had gone with friends on a float trip with a large rubber raft. This was a much more popular tourist river so there were many boats and a whole host of folks floating on anything that held their body weight for a few miles of river relaxation. About half-way down, my kid took a dip in the river to cool off before getting back aboard the large raft. Once aboard she was snacking on some carrots when she noticed a black stick or leaf stuck to her foot.

Closer inspection revealed that it was a river LEACH that had taken residence on her foot. She started to squirm and scream all the while sucking in carrot mash and shaking her foot wildly to detach her little blood-sucking stowaway. Other people on the river started laughing as they thought she was dancing or intoxicated and being generally goofy. Finally she cleared her windpipe of carrots and yelled “LEACH!!!” Her friends helped her get it off, but suddenly everyone in a tube or swimming in the water suddenly wanted OUT and safe passage aboard the big rubber raft for the rest of the river trip. Gee, I always wondered why Missouri’s visitors bureau won’t hire me to write tourist brochures – maybe because when it comes to wildlife, I’m just nuts?


  1. Oh, I am a man and I would have done the same exact thing had there been a leach on my leg. Too funny.

  2. Never piss off a cottonmouth! I hate those things!!

    And leaches? Ick, Ick, Ick. Nasty little creatures. Oh I hate them!