I am a student of critters and I cannot help myself. They teach me a lot and they puzzle the dickens out of me at times.
Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what is important to a critter at a given moment. That’s the way it worked out with a tarantula I met during a hunt on the Cuyama Badlands.
I was sitting in a lawn chair in camp in the afternoon, cleaning my shotgun between hunts. We already had cottontail and quail cleaned for dinner, so the pressure was off (it meant we didn’t have to eat canned beef stew for dinner).
Something caught my eye — this tarantula was crawling across the edge of camp, moving in a very calculated straight line and looking like it was on a mission.
Curiosity is a powerful thing, so I just had to think about this rather attractive spider. It looked to be about mid-age, not too big or too small, probably with enough experience to have a lifestyle all worked out.
Maybe it was on a foraging foray, but it didn’t seem to be exploring and searching for food. It had plotted a course and wasn’t deviating a single compass point.
As it made its way out of camp into rocky terrain, it did a magnificent job of crawling over things to maintain its course. Anything that couldn’t be crawled over, it went around it in a half circle and then continued on its original course.
I couldn’t resist my curiosity so I got up, grabbed my canteen and followed, and the journey turned out to be more interesting than I would have expected, though I’m not sure I can explain why.
We went a few hundred yards and the thing turned and crawled under a rock. Time for a nap, I thought. So I rested too.
An hour later that critter hadn’t yet come out. For reasons I still wonder about to this day, I stayed with that tarantula until dusk.
I could see the tip of a leg, so I know it was still there. I finally went back to camp to finish up dinner and get some sleep.
First thing in the morning, I delayed going on a hunt and wandered over to the hidey rock and found that the critter had left during the night.
Now I consider myself a pretty darned good tracker, but tracking that bug over rocky terrain just wasn’t going to happen.
So there I sat, wondering about the mission of my traveling companion the tarantula. I still think about it and just needed to share the story with you.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.