The Okefenokee Hunter

Cypress trees and Spanish Moss line a Suwannee River kayak run through Minnie’s Lake: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 7, 2017 ©

Excerpt from Francis Harper’s Mammals of the Okefinokee Swamp, published March 1927:

“​And not the least interesting part of the scene is the Okefinokee hunter, pushing his boat with graceful thrust of a cypress pole on his way to some duck ‘roost’ or haunt of deer. Now he marks a distant flock of ‘Salt-water Cranes’ (Mycteria) or ‘Spanish Curlews’ (Guara); or studies the upturned leaves of water lilies, that indicate a bears course from ‘head’ to ‘head’; or notices the tiny killifishes that dart from the path of his boat, or the little Cricket Frogs that make successive leaps over the surface. Occasionally his progress is challenged by a deadly ‘Seminole Rattler’ (Crotalus horridus) or a Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus), or rarely his boat is charged by a fierce alligator. He may pause for a drink at a pool kept open by one of those saurians, and draw the cooler water from its depths by a rotary motion of hand or paddle. Meanwhile he may give understanding heed to one or another of the multitudinous voices that arise from the prairie either by day or by night – such as the whooping of the Sandhill Crane, the croaks of various herons, the squealing whistle of the Wood Duck, the high pitch cackle of the King Rail, the sharp notes of the Cricket Frog, the deep currents of the Southern Bullfrog, or – mightiest of all – the base, muffled role of the Alligator’s bellowing, as half a dozen join in from various parts of the prairie.”

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