Chapter Five

Inspiration often comes in flashes, and Arty had a beaut. 

From that night on, Arty became a chronic poacher. Being a true mate, Worzel tagged along for a while, but after getting caught twice (it was Worzel’s fault on both occasions) his nerves gave out, and he and Arty parted company.

The fear of being apprehended added the X factor back into Arty’s hunting, and though he didn’t like the title of poacher, it was the only way he could enjoy his sport. Being Arty, he soon got very adept at sneaking on and off properties without being caught. He ended up getting so good at it that he was at risk of getting bored again. So he had to start doing silly stuff like ‘accidentally’ sky lining with the spotlight. Occasionally he had to ‘accidentally’ do it 2 or 3 times before someone gave chase or rang the police. Even so, except for the two times he was pinged with Worzel, no one could catch him.

It was a cold windy night in May that led to his eventual undoing. He’d just gutted a nice fat yearling he’d shot on the edge of a patch of scrub. Even though the shot was suppressed, he thought the report should be loud enough to rouse the cocky who lived less than 600 meters away from where he was standing.

Arty was quite disappointed when he glassed the house. The owner was making the most of his Lazy Boy, snoring his head off.

Inspiration often comes in flashes, and Arty had a beaut. Grabbing his phone he gave the farmer a call. He saw him get up to answer the phone through the bino’s.

“Hello.”

“Is that you Harry?”

“Yep, whose this?”

“I‘m just driving past and can see someone spotlighting up by your water tank, didn’t think you let people shoot on your place.”

“I don’t, thanks, who is this?”

Arty hung up.

He watched gleefully as the outside lights came on and Harry strode outside clutching a rifle and a torch. As soon  as Arty heard the quad start, he grabbed his deer and headed down to the road via a gully that ran right past the cocky's house. The night turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as Harry was a hopeless pursuer.But he was chuffed with the cell phone idea and used it repeatedly over the next couple of months.

He was out in the shed cutting some kindling when the police turned up.

“Evening Arty.”

“Hello Bruce, what brings you out on a cold night like this?”

“I need a bit of a hand with my inquiries,”

“Oh? OK, happy to help,”

“Thought you might be. Looks like you’ve been giving the locals a bit of a hand to get on top of the current poaching epidemic.”

Carefully leaning his axe against the wall, Arty folded his arms.

“What makes you say that?”

The officer passed him a bit of paper.

“Is this your cell phone number?”

“Might be.”

“Well is it?”

He pretended to study it.

“Yeah, looks like my number.”

“Seems you’ve been phoning people and letting them know when a poacher is on their place.”

Arty cleared his throat but said nothing.

“According to our records you’ve done it eight times now, quite the good Samaritan aren’t you?”

Arty grinned hopelessly.

Bruce gave him a long, hard look.

“Well, you’ll be pleased to know that when we catch this mongrel, I’m going to do everything in my power to see we throw the book at him.”

Arty nodded. “Fair enough.”

“Good. It looks like we’re in for a cold night. Stay home and enjoy the fire.”

His poaching days in the district were over. He couldn’t even drive to the dairy without people gawking at him or writing down his rego. It’s quite hard to feel sorry for a poacher, but if you'd seen the haunted expression on Arty’s face, you might have felt a little bit of sympathy. Perhaps.

Gloom descended on Arty like fog on opening morning, he could hear the ducks but couldn’t fire a shot. Unlike some people, he hated being depressed and did everything he could think of to shake it. He was digging through his boxes of books looking for inspiration when he found one that did exactly that. It was The Temple Tiger by Jim Corbett. As he read Jim’s account of sitting in the dark waiting to bag a man-eater that was keen to bag him, he was thrilled to the core and more excited than he had been in a long while. Next morning he was on the blower to the Indian embassy, asking if there were any man-eating tigers they needed getting rid off. The bloke he spoke to thought he was having him on and hung up. Not one to give up easily, Arty rang again, same result. When he rang the third time, he was told they had his number and the authorities would be contacted if he rang again.

Well, it looked like India was out, but he wasn't going to let that little technicality stop him. He dove into his boxes of books again, the germ of an idea in his mind. Eventually, he found the book he was after. It was 'Hunting With The Bow and Arrow' by Saxton Pope.

Inside the front cover he found the phone number of the bloke who had given it too to him. The man's name was Ernie Strong; a big game guide he'd met several years ago.

After a mountain of paperwork and countless phone calls, Arty was on his way to Alaska.

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