For sometime we have been hearing gunshots. We’ve assumed that someone is hunting birds or getting in a little target practice. Jason and I split off from Carl and the shots become louder now as we come up just behind the neighborhood. Carl has continued on through the woods, but the coordinate were tracking seems to put us somewhere smack dab in the middle of the Devil’s Poket. Rather than stumble through backyards, we opt to cut down onto the road. For a few minutes the shooting ceases.
The shots keep coming and I radio Carl, still using the handles we’ve developed in reference to our cheap radio brand, Cobra. “Cobra Two, Cobra One has come under fire and has sought shelter. Please hold your position.” Carl comes back quickly: “I’m on the ground. I hit the dirt as soon as I heard that first round.” It sounds like he’s started laughing. “I’ll lie here until you’re clear.”
We follow the ovens down to the railroad tracks. They can’t hit us at this angle, but we can still hear the gunfire. We skirt the tracks, hop a dirty, trash-filled creek, and head deeper into the woods, finally lining ourselves up with the proper transect. The shots sound further away and finally stop altogether. I radio Carl and tell him we’re safe and he continues on his way. As we walk on Jason and I discuss what’s just happened. “They probably weren’t trying to hit us,” he says. “Just scare us a little. Besides,” he continues, “It sounded like a .22. At that distance it just would’ve stung a little.” I knew right then that I’d hired the right person for the job. And we’d have to come back the next day.
That top shot isn't actually from Aetna Mountain, but was taken at the head of a driveway near Cagle Mountain in Sequatchie County. The second shot is also from Sequatchie County, but the third is out the back porch of the check-in station at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge, Birchwood, TN.