Chapter Two

“Yeah, poaching was to Arty as meth is to one of them addicts. I tried that meth once, don’t know what all the fuss is about?”

I guess you could call Worzels camp basic. He did his cooking on an open fire; his bivy was a railway tarpaulin draped over some number 8 wire, and apart from a sleeping bag, a few pots, pans and some eating and drinking gear, that was it.

He poured me some tea from a grotty looking billy into a very grubby cup, passed it and sat down.

Aren’t you having one Worzel?”

I’ve only got one cup.”

Here have mine, I’m not that thirsty.”

Na, you’re my guest, wouldn’t be right.”

The tea took a bit of getting down; it had been brewing for hours. I was still  peeved about Wurzel nicking my traps and determined to get the truth out of him.

This bloke you caught stealing my traps, what did he look like?”

Well, he looked a bit like Arty Jones.”

Cunning old Worzel was  leading me off the scent, like the wiley old fox he is.

Who’s Arty Jones?”

He’s an old mate of mine, but it can’t of been him.”

Why not?”

Arty blew himself to pieces.”

How’d he manage that?”

Well now,” said Worzel, easing himself into the story, “Arty was a bit of a poacher, I guess you’d say he was addicted to it.”

Addicted to poaching?”

Yeah, poaching was to Arty as meth is to one of them addicts. I tried that meth once, don’t know what all the fuss is about?”

I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a barge pole, how come you tried it?”

Oh, we was having a card game and ran out of whiskey, so thought we’d give the meth a go. Poured it out of me stove and had a sip, tasted something awful”.

I couldn’t help smiling.”Anyway, you were saying about Arty.”

Well, as I said, he was addicted to poaching, and in the end it got him blown up.”

I know, you already told me that, how?”

Looking slightly offended, he gave the fire a bit of a poke.

Give a man a chance; I’ll get there when I’m ready.

This is what he told me.

Worzel met Arty back when he was working for a roading contractor. They were both keen hunters and quickly became good mates, spending nearly all their spare time hunting together. Worzel admitted they did the odd bit of poaching, but mostly it was legit.

Life was good, the freezer full and they had a good reputation in the district. But in Worzels words, “After a while, Arty started going a bit strange on it.”

The first hint he got of Arty going strange on it, was when they were in town getting a few supplies. They met a dry stock farmer who had a few too many deer on his place, “Could they come and knock the numbers back a bit?”

Talk about a gift; Worzel was over the moon. Before he could thank the cocky, Arty ruined it all by saying they were too busy and to get someone else. The farmer shot through looking none too pleased.

Poor old Worzel was speechless and sulked for the rest of the day, much to Arty’s amusement.
A couple of hours before dark, Arty banged on Wurzels door inviting him for a hunt.

Deciding he’d rather hunt than sulk, he grabbed his rifle and jumped in the ute.

While they were driving, Worzel asked the question that had been on his mind all afternoon.

Why’d you stuff up the hunting possie Arty?”

I didn’t stuff it; I improved it.”
“What do you mean ‘improved it?’, he’ll never let us on his property again, didn’t you see his face?”
“Yeah, I did, and I reckon your right.” grinned Arty.
Worzel shook his head in disbelief.

Where are we going now?”

Poaching.”

Where?”

His place.”
That’s when Worzel discovered  his best mate was missing a few sheep in the top paddock.

They saw a heap of deer that evening and shot two. Worzel couldn’t decide if he was pleased, or annoyed. Arty, however, was stoked and grinned like a lunatic all the way home.

Worzel got up and chucked a bit of wood on the fire.

He had me so engrossed in his story that I had forgotten all about my traps.

So, what happened next?”

Well, unless it was going for a poach, he wasn’t interested in hunting. It did me nerves in after a while; we even got caught a couple of times.”

Did they prosecute you?”

Nah, but word got out about us, and all the good hunting spots dried up. That did it for me; I kinda went off Arty after that, and we drifted apart.”

What about him, did it cure him of poaching?”

Cure him? Hah!, it made him worse. The riskier things got, the more he enjoyed himself.”

So then what happened?”

Worzel pointed at the horizon. “It’ll be dark soon, don’t you think you should start making tracks?”

He was right; I needed to get back to camp.

Come back when you get a chance, and I’ll tell you the rest.”

Will do,”

And Bryan.”

Yeah.”

Could I borrow a few of your traps?”

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