A Deer Camp Haunting
As friend Lee McDermott and I drove from Comstock, Texas toward the highest bridge in Texas over the Pecos River. We passed a sign that said: Amistad National Recreation area. As we crossed the Pecos on Highway 90, Lee said his Deer lease was ten miles further. I thought about the lay of the land. I knew that Lake Amistad was huge and the Pecos and Rio Grande River Canyons were deep. Crossing the Rio Grande would be pretty limited near Langtry. I asked Lee: “Do you ever see people who have crossed the Rio Grande on the Deer Lease.” The logic of that question would become even more apparent, when in the next few days, we would pass several green and white SUV’s bearing the insignia of the US Border Patrol.
Back to my question about seeing border crossers on the lease:
Lee said, “It’s funny you should ask.” He then went on to tell a pretty disturbing story about something that happened last spring.
Lee said that in May he came to the lease from Forney to do some work preparing for deer season. The lease is so close to the border that if you shoot a rifle to the West, the bullet would literally fall into Mexico. Lee said that when he got to the deer camp, he was told that the Border Patrol had been to his hunting camper, after an anonymous phone call from a group who had crossed the Rio Grande into Texas with a grim story. It seemed that one of the band had died just as he got across into Texas. His companions put his body on the wooden deck of Lee’s hunting camper and left him there. From what Lee found, I assume they had waited several days before they made the phone call.
By the time Lee got to the deer camp officials had already taken his body away. But he had left a definite impression on Lee’s deck. Lee now has a very nice deck in front of his camper. On a drizzly morning, he took me to the trash pile to see the deck he replaced. It only took one look to realize that replacing the deck was a pretty wise decision.
I asked Lee, “This is the deck that was in front of the camper we are sleeping in now.” He said, “You got it.”
Now, you might presume that thinking about the guy who was found just outside the door of the camper would make it hard to sleep. You would be wrong. I slept like a little child the night after his third birthday party. There’s one thing about hunting. When it’s time for bed, it’s hard to be deterred by thoughts of a dead guy being on the porch a little over six months ago.
It turns out that the land just West of the Pecos wasn’t just rough and tumble more than a hundred years ago when Judge Roy Bean held court just a few miles up the road. It’s still kinda rough and tumble now.
On Saturday, Lee took me to see the Judge Roy Bean’s Jersey Lilly in Langtry. It’s maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation. It was pretty cool.