PORT ARTHUR — Recently someone asked me what my most frightening moment was in the great outdoors. Despite having a few close calls, the following two accounts are the ones that got to me the most.
Nothing frightens me more in the wilds of Texas than bees, particularly the deadly Africanized “killer” bees. These bees are spreading and have firmly established populations in the Brush Country and part of the Trans-Pecos and Hill Country.
The sting of one bee might only cause some pain (unless you’re allergic) but the wrath of a swarm could spell death.
In the spring of 2003, I had a truly frightening bee experience. While using a box call to lure in a lonely gobbler, I heard what I literally thought was a low-flying plane in the distance. All of a sudden, a shadow passed overhead and I looked up to see a massive swarm of bees less than 30 feet up. I remained calm, said a little prayer, and watched the huge swarm pass by.
After talking with ranch officials, I learned the Africanized kind is present in the area, and thanked God the swarm did not sense how frightened I was. In fact, I was filming a segment for Keith Warren’s television program and once the bees moved a great distance, I told the cameraman to hit record.
“They say bees can smell fear,” I said.
“That’s not true! I was just more frightened than I have ever been and about 10,000 bees flew over our heads.”
A few years before, I guided my father on a hunt for red deer out in Kerr County. After bagging a big 8-pointer, we hoisted it into a strong oak and began to skin it. Suddenly, thousands of bees moved in, started buzzing all around us, and began to cover the animal. Dad backed his truck up under the deer, I cut the hoist down, and we moved more than a mile away.
Despite the scary nature of that bee encounter it was not my most intense outdoors moment. Not even close.
Back around 1997, I was running a trotline in a deep hole in the Sabine River. My cousin Frank Moore and I had trotlines about 200 yards apart and had been catching a few blue catfish.