This poem is probably the most sentimental of my works and causes me to tear up every time I read it. Botheration Creek is a real creek or stream to some of you, which flows through south Washington County north of highway 20 which is the line between Washington and Bay Counties in North Florida. In my youth there was no highway 20, In fact I killed a huge 9 point buck where there is now an asphalt pavement.
Botheration Creek is one of many tributaries that make up the headwaters of Pine Log Creek which flows into the Choctawhatchee River. This is where I and my brother Gene hunted and it was on posted land and we were trespassers and outlaws. One side of the fence was Point Washington Wildlife Management Preserve and First American Farms, both of which we had rights to hunt on.
That “POSTED” sign on the fence might has well said “The deer are in here” to my brother and I. We became known as the “Fence Jumpers” to most of our friends and to our envious enemies as well. My best friend, Alan Tice and my brother-in-law, Joel Hall, would hunt legally on one side of the fence while Gene and I poached the pasture.
The place we hunted was called Moody’s Pasture. It was private and had a few dog hunters that ran dogs in there and you had to be on your toes to keep from getting caught trespassing. It made you such a better hunter being always on the alert for those that would catch you. There wasn’t as much hunting pressure in the pasture and deer seemed a little less stressed. Gene and I killed a lot of bucks in that place. Back then it was tall yellow pines and scrub oak ridges and cypress swamp. There were lots of turkeys and hogs but we didn’t mess with those unless it was archery season or spring gobbler hunts.
The creek was wide but only about chest deep but being you didn’t want to get wet, we found certain places to cross it avoiding the bridges where there would be traffic and other hunters. The ancient log was a real log that laid across the creek and it was a big one. It was here that my brother and I would meet in case one of us needed help getting a buck back to the truck and to share news about what we had seen or heard, share buck sign and scrapes and just basic knowledge of this, our world. We knew the pasture better than the people that owned it and hunted it.
Moody’s pasture was our personal hunting preserve as far as my brother and I were concerned. I can’t recount all the adventures we had in there because there were so many. My brother is gone now and there is a highway where we once hunted. All that tall timber was cut and white pine planted for the paper mills. The State did away with Point Washington Management so you can’t park there and poach if you wanted to. I guess the deer are still in there but you can only see one now and then on the side of the highway or if you were a good hunter you might spy a big buck just in the edge of the cover. My brother and I would notice it for sure!
By Thomas Gregory Moore June 2012
Gentle memories awaken causing me to pine
Of a place so fondly remembered often comes to mind
So long ago that the edges begin to mist.
A part of me longingly aches; it’s my brother I miss
My brother and I like brazen gladiators stood
Faced the stormy wind, a warrior’s brotherhood
Young, boisterous and bold, so full of ourselves
Confidently we hunted and road the gulf’s great swells
Cypress swamps and oak ridges we stalked
Beneath the canopies of longleaf pines we walked
Vistas of God’s splendant creation we viewed
Scanned palmetto flats looking for clues
Crisp mornings and low hanging fogs
Gobblers gobbling in springtime and fall
A wood duck’s squawking evoked a hog’s grunt
Like Cooper’s Deerslayer, we loved “The Hunt”
In the late morning we sought nature’s bliss
Down into Botheration’s bottom we slipped
Where the ancient log laid across the creek
Standing in God’s Cathedral, into each other we peeked
The dark burnt creek ever so slowly weaved
Dappled sunlight on carpets of leaves
In dark woods golden sunlit beams
Danced like golden warriors among the trees
Looking down from their leafy helms
Great tree boules like dark knights grim
Stood at attention their dark swords raised
Honoring these hunters with Valhalla’s praise
Why such a name for so beautiful a place?
Someone’s aggravation must have been the case
There soon my brother and I will meet
Because I imagine Heaven to be such a place