Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Real Life Experience - THE SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY


Figure one - A size comparison between a modern bison and Bison antiquus, the bison species that Chayton, Hoka, and
the other Folsom People had to deal with 10,700 years ago in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY.   

I wrote my prehistoric book thriller the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY based on my knowledge and research in archaeology, hunting, and animal/human behavior. I have spent lots of time out in the field doing my research – finding prehistoric artifacts, watching and recording animal behavior and creating scenarios, such as the one below, taken from the second book of the trilogy, GHOSTS OF THE HEART. In this scenario, hunters from the Folsom People are attempting to trap and kill a herd of bison without the dangerous beasts killing or maiming any hunters. I am sure that was quite a trick. I will now join you on the other side of the GHOSTS OF THE HEART segment.       
Chayton knelt with Hoka on top of the hill, patiently waiting for the last of the cows and calves to
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enter the arroyo. When the last of the
tatanka (bison) entered the arroyo, he signaled a hunter on another hillside. Chayton had wanted the tatanka bull in the trap, but it was not going to happen. The hunters would just leave him alone. There was too much risk attacking the bull on the open prairie. The hunt would be more than successful with the cows and the calves. Chayton would let the last of the herd get to the wakon ya (natural spring) and start drinking before he signaled the attack.

WANA! – NOW!” Chayton bellowed and the hunters sprung the trap. A hunter signaled Tah and Wiyaka who lit their torches and then raced to the arroyo with the other hunters. The hunters arrived at the wooden fence and dropped more dead wood in the gap between the two sides of the arroyo. The hunters then picked up a large log that was lying behind the fence and set it down across the top of the fence. They had sealed the herd into the arroyo, but it would take fire to hold the herd. Tah looked up and saw that the tatanka bull had already taken off running, abandoning his herd. Tah and Wiyaka threw the torches on the wooden fence and it erupted into flames. Smoke rose as the flames burned into the green sagebrush, creating a huge smoke screen. The smoke signaled Chayton and the other hunters to attack. Carrying large bundles of spears, the hunters ran up to both sides of the arroyo and began heaving spears at the unwary herd. The herd milled around the wakon ya, confused by the spears and the smoke.

A rain of spears fell on the herd from three sides of the arroyo. Spears stuck in the hides of the cows and calves as the herd panicked and attempted to climb the steep walls of the arroyo. Without a leader, the herd muddled about while more spears poured down on them from above. Finally, one of the cows ran back down the arroyo towards the entrance and the rest of the herd followed…

Dangerous business, don’t you agree? A prehistoric hunter severely injured by a bison was almost worse off than if he died. Depending on the severity of the injury, there may have been little for the tribe to do. We assume from analyses of injuries on prehistoric skeletons that medical care was quite limited. In addition, the tribe had to care and feed injured hunters, drawing on the limited resources of the tribe. Recovery from serious injuries such as broken bones takes a long time.

I had a first-hand experience of what this might have been like on December 3, 2016. My faithful dog Madd Maxx and I were doing some artifact hunting on the original Shadows on the Trail prehistoric site when a herd of wild, horned cows decided they did not like Madd Maxx and attacked him. I intervened on my German Shepherd's behalf. One particular demon cow gored me and ended up running over me on three separate occasions. On one of those run overs, I played dead by lying on my stomach with my arms shielding my head. This horned beast held me to the ground with its massive head in the middle of my back while it pummeled my legs and ankles with its hooves. I was sure I was going to die on that prairie. Somehow, both Madd Maxx and I survived this freak disaster.

I finally made it to the ranch house where they immediately called for help. I was a long way off the beaten path. Eventually, I was transported via Flight for Life to one of the better trauma centers in Colorado. I ended up with three broken ribs, a bruised lung and liver, a hemorrhaging adrenal gland, and contusions and severe bruises across the lower half of my body. Thanks to my wife Theresa and the ranch foreman, Madd Maxx ended up in an animal emergency room for treatment of cuts and bruises, but no broken bones.   

I received first-hand experience of the dangers of large prey animals, even if they were “domesticated cattle”. Would I have survived these injuries ten thousand years ago without Flight for Life or excellent care at a leading trauma center? I don't know. Maybe, but I would have become a burden to the tribe. In looking back at my recent accident, I think I did a pretty good job portraying the difficult and dangerous life of the Folsom People in the SHADOWS ON THE TRAIL TRILOGY. Read it and see if you agree.

I look forward to ultimately recovering from my injuries from the December 3, 2016 mad cow incident, but I will also want to capture the drama and emotion of this traumatic experience in one of my future books.        
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