DEADLY: Trap gun. — Photos courtesy Heather-Dawn Herrera

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Silent hunting in the forest

Our outfit walked along a trail that was now partly overgrown. This we attributed to the recent continuous rains that gave the forest new life. A second reason for the abandoned appearance of the trail was the absence of feet passaging along the forest floor.
These parts of the forest are usually heavily trafficked especially around this time of the year by huntsmen and others. There was a government vehicle parked along the road in the vicinity of the starting point of the trail but the occupants showed no signs of preparation for entry into the forest. Apparently this was just a road patrol.
Further inside, the trail opened out a bit though branches of it remained abandoned. At the entrance to one of these off trails, a heavy net of web containing what seemed to be hundreds of spiders curtained the vegetation. It was apparent from this that this trail had not been used for quite some time.
As the main trail led deeper into the forest, there were signs of human passage, some not obvious to the general eye, some quite blatant and dangerous too. The movements we were seeing can best be described as furtive, to say the least.
Those who are accustomed to the ins and outs of the forest will tell you that when trap guns are set in an area, certain pointers are placed in the area to help the setter in locating it on his return. This time there were none to warn us.
We encountered one of the nuisances set in the middle of the trail. However, it was empty thus far. One member of our outfit unset it and that was the end of that one. We were almost certain that there would be more around the area.
Heavy sounds of silence enveloped the forest. The usual sounds of hunting dogs on the chase were replaced by the natural sounds of avian wild life. We noted that there were what we called “new trails” that were not really trails but discreet paths obvious only to the experienced eye. We discovered that one of these led in a roundabout way to a new exit point along the road outside.
From our trip into the forest that one day we could tell that hunting was continuing despite the official two year ban. The usual trails used by legal huntsmen were now more or less abandoned but new indistinct “chippings” were present.
We used one of these to return to the outside and finished a couple miles off the usual parking spot. Common thoughts among our Outfit were that as long as there is not enough willing manpower to leave the outskirts and really patrol our forests to ensure that the laws are adhered to, there would always be ways to work around things.
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