In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works

Monday, January 19, 2009

There's nothing wrong with a little Halloween in January.

Ghost stories are usually best told around Halloween, but sometimes things that go bump in the night, or in this case the woods, don't wait for October.

Almost everybody who hunts has a tale about some spooky something that turned a hunting trip into a B-grade horror flick. Most of the time the spooky is easily explained.

Ghosts turn out to be fog, bigfoot was just a squirrel and goblins are just imaginary gobbledegook.

Then there's what happened to my 16-year-old son, Hunter, in Stanton, Tenn.

First, Hunter isn't a kid who gets spooked very easy. He's hunted by himself for years, ignoring the dark, the noises and the creepy shadows. I've probably been rattled more times by the "what's that" effect of being alone in the dark than he has.

But what happened while he was deer hunting two weeks ago in Stanton still has him buffaloed.

He was sitting in a ground blind on the edge of a cut cornfield waiting for the sun to come up and a slight fog to get out of the way. When things cleared he would be able see 400 yards or more in almost every direction and he thought seeing a deer wasn't a matter of if, but of when.

Trouble was, he couldn't keep his mind on deer hunting.

Just before daylight something pushed him in the back. He jerked around expecting so see a stick blown by the wind or a crazed chipmunk or his little brother playing a stupid joke?

Hunter saw . . . nothing.

He sits down again and gets pushed again.

Nothing there.

By the time legal shooting rolled around he was a 16-year-old basket case.

Sit. Push. Look. Nothing.

So he sat there and the pushing kept on. Sometimes he was pushed in the back, sometimes from the side. Twice he said "it" almost knocked him out of the chair.

He checked for broken chair legs. He checked to see if the chair was sinking in the mud. He checked to see how hard it would be to have the blind exorcized.

Hunter was so intent on finding a rational explanation when we got home we checked with the U.S. Geological Survey to see if there were earth tremors in the area that day. Nope. Bizarre storms? None. Nearby road construction? Not so much as a gravel truck.

As for the irrational? It turns out Stanton has it's fair share of spooks, most hailing from the Civil War.

There's a military uniform that's sometime seen walking around with nobody in it. A Civil War doctor has been seen still wearing his bloody uniform. A Civil War-era soldier who's sometimes seen staggering along the highway near the Hatchie River Bottoms . . . that would be the highway that runs by the farm.

And it was just coincidence that Hunter pitched the blind by a huge old oak tree . . . with what looks like a sunken grave at it's roots.

Talk about a new meaning for deer rattling.

Who knows what it was. But if you can have Christmas in July, there's nothing wrong with a little Halloween in January.(above taken from "Knoxville News Sentinel Co.". )

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