Encounter with Hunters

wild begoniaRoxy and I took a long walk on the property this week. I have always enjoyed being alone in nature. It gives me the freedom to go slow or fast and take time to observe what catches my eye. We walked through the various springs and forested areas on the new trails. After making it to the far end of the property I could hear our work crew so I stopped to check how they were doing on repairs to the border fence. They were very surprised to see me hiking without my spouse and commented how brave I was. We chatted for a while and then they showed me a new trail back to the main internal road.

I had walked for about ten minutes when I began to hear the howls of a hunting dog. Sounds echo and bounce off the valley hills so I wasn’t sure if the dog was nearby or across the river on a different property. I stopped and listened to try and determine if the dog was on our property. I heard the howls again and soon thereafter the dog came trotting down the trail and passed me giving me only the slightest glance of acknowledgment. Seeing this dog meant either he was lost and somehow got onto our property, or there were hunters on the property. The latter was more likely.

Trespassing and hunting on private property is illegal in Costa Rica. Our land is home to many small mammals and has been abandoned for several years, making it a favorite hunting spot for the locals. One of our first projects on the property has been to repair the border fences and create internal trails to make it obvious that this property is no longer abandoned.

After I saw the dog pass me and determined he was friendly and hunting I froze in my tracks to see what would happen next. Shortly thereafter the dog came back towards me, passed me and went up a different trail. I could hear his continual howls as he was tracking an animal. I decided to go up the trail the hound took to see if I could get a glimpse of his owner. Just 50 meters up the trail I saw two hunters and a second younger hound dog. I saw the men before they saw me so I yelled out “Hola”. Immediately one replied in English and asked if I owned this property. I explained that yes, I am the owner and you are illegally on my property, illegally hunting and to get your dog and never return. He apologized profusely and said they would leave and headed in the opposite direction back down the trail.

Meanwhile, their full grown hound dog was still hunting nearby. I decided to stay put where I was to make sure they were actually going to leave when their dog was in the opposite direction from where they were heading. The dog howled more and more, scurrying back and forth through the bush. As I expected, the English speaking man came back up the trail and asked where his dog was. I motioned where I thought he was. What happened next shocked me. The hunter decided to chat with me. He asked me where I was from and what my name was. So, I asked him what his name was and where he was from, not thinking any real hunter would actually give me this information, but sure enough he did!

He called for the dog a few times and I realized either this was a really poorly trained hunting dog or it wasn’t his dog because the dog was not obeying his commands. We waited for the dog to reappear only to hear his howls in a different area down the trail. Carlos again apologized for being on my property and wished me a good day as he went back down the trail towards the sounds of the dog.

Puriscal valley viewLater that day when the workers returned from the day’s work I told them about my encounter. Carlos gave me enough information about himself that our workers were quickly able to identify him and determine he was someone they knew. That night Carlos was called by our worker and asked never to return to this property and to spread the word to other hunters that hunting and trespassing is prohibited on our land. Hopefully the word will get out and this type of encounter won’t happen again.

An equally exciting, but not as thrilling event occurred this week. John received his Costa Rica Cedula and now officially has residency in Costa Rica. The entire process took 22 months. Hopefully mine will be finalized soon, although I have been told to continue to remain patient.

This week’s first photo is of a begonia growing on our property. The second was taken at one of the springs and the last shot was taken from the interior of our property looking to the distant neighboring farms.