The camping trip had been planned at least a month in advance. In hopes that hunters had either bagged a deer, or were pre-occupied with upcoming Thanksgiving, the date picked was in the middle of November.
We were heading to a primitive camp site on the Angelina River near Jasper, Texas. There are a series of sites on public hunting land that are only accessible by boat.
The campsite we preferred had been reserved by someone, so we went to another location I had used in the past. The preferred site was on a stretch of river far from any boat ramp. It usually took around 30 – 45 minutes to reach it. Because of this, there was little boat traffic in front of the site.
The second campsite was much closer to the boat launch and usually had more boat traffic than the other site.
My buddy and I had a site reserved for three days. We were going to arrive on day one, spend day two fishing, then go home on day three. This was a camping trip we had done several times in the past.
After leaving lake Sam Rayburn, the Angelina river meanders through the piney woods of east Texas. It eventually passes Bevil Port, which is where the boat ramp is located. A few miles south of Bevil Port, the river makes a ninety degree turn to the right. Then, it makes a large horse shoe shape, then almost comes back together before turning ninety degrees to the right again.
There is a campsite in the first ninety degree bend, a site in the bend of the horseshoe, and then a camp site in the second ninety degree bend. The two sites in the bends are only 300 – 400 feet apart. The site in the horseshoe is around two hundred yards from the other two.
My buddy and I had the third site on the second bend reserved.
As fate would have it, my buddy and I arrived at our site late in the evening. We had received a phone call earlier saying a friend needed help getting a wild pig to his boat. This put my buddy and I arriving at the camp site just before dark.
While making camp, we saw a couple of hunters with shotguns, (probably looking for squirrel), walk within 100 feet of our campsite. They turned and walked away without even saying hello.
The tents were set up and I had a Mountain House freeze dried pouch for dinner.
While enjoying the peaceful slumber of the setting sun, we heard a faint commotion from the other campsite. The sounds were that of people having a good time and enjoying themselves, much like my buddy and I were doing.
There is a certain peacefulness on the river as the sun is setting. The heat of the day fades away, and the river shines with the glow of moonlight. It is a beautiful sight to behold.
The peaceful tranquility was shattered by the sound of a rifle. This was not someone shooting a snake, as the bullet had zipped through the underbrush.
A shotgun makes a “boom” sound and you can hear the BBs going through the brush.
A rifle on the other hand, as the bullet leaves the barrel and breaks the sound barrier, it makes a “POW” sound.
The people in the other campsite were shooting some kind of large caliber rifle.
My buddy and I looked at each other and wondered what was going on? What idiot would shoot into the woods at night with other campers nearby? They knew we were there because they almost walked into our campsite.
Maybe they saw Bigfoot, or a werewolf, or something else? We have coyotes and wild pigs in the area, so there is no telling what they saw.
A few minutes later there was another rifle shot. We heard the bullet tearing through the brush. The bullets were traveling parallel with the river, directly towards the campsite in the bend of the horseshoe.
On the way to our campsite I made sure to look at the other sites and made a mental note if they were being used. I knew nobody was at the site in the bend, but did the people doing the shooting know this? Still, someone could have arrived at the campsite after we passed it.
We discussed walking over to their site and ask them what the problem was. However, we were worried about getting shot by a careless discharge. At the very least, they were shooting in the same direction every time.
Out of frustration, I grabbed my Remington 1911 R1 and fired a couple of rounds straight down into the ground. I knew exactly where the bullets were going, and that was down into the soil. I did not know what else do do. I thought this was a better option than walking through the woods to confront people who were clearly not in their right state of mind.
Hopefully, my shots would remind them there were other people nearby, and let them know we were armed. Thankfully, they stopped shooting for a little while, but started back.
As the campfire started to die down, my buddy and I debated whether or not we should go look for firewood. The idiots in the other campsite were not shooting in our direction. So, we figured it would be safe to stay at the site and just go to bed. If we left the site looking for firewood, we risked putting ourselves in the line of fire.
My buddy went to his tent and I went to mine.
The next morning we got up, fixed breakfast and discussed what to do next. We were faced with the dilemma of dealing with a group of people who clearly had no concept of gun safety, or just go home.
We decided to go home. This eliminated the risk of escalating the issue.
After I got home, I contacted the people in charge of the camp sites. They told me it was my word against the others, and since there were more people in their group, I had nothing to stand on.
I had brought a five gallon bucket of fishing noodles and everything needed for trotlines for the three days we were supposed to be at the campsite. This was supposed to be a get-away weekend of peace and relaxation. Instead, it was ruined by irresponsible gun owners.