Lac de Madine 2009
As I do a fair amount of work in helping the organisers of the World Carp Classic throughout the year, the countdown and build up to it begins in September – directly after the current event ends – so, it’s as much a relief as it is exciting for me personally.
Dan, however, was to experience the event for the very first time, and I can clearly recall just how that feels! Funnily enough, the name of my angling partner on that very first occasion was also Dan – Danny King
– and as I now had a captive audience I went into ‘storyteller’ mode…
The following tale took place on Lac Amance, in 2001
My partner for the competition, a (much younger) friend named Danny and I, had drawn the swim next to the heavily forested nature reserve at the remote end of a very long bay. On our first night in the swim, a night which was set aside to bait up without fishing, we settled down in our respective bivvies as darkness fell. No sooner had the last rays of the sun been consumed by the darkness, than the sounds of the resident wildlife began to reverberate around the forest. Boar could be clearly heard not too far away, but another noise, something sounding far more sinister, echoed through the night air.
Instantly, being familiar with such things, I recognised the sounds and knew exactly what the creatures were that were making them, they were large deer. However, my young and dare I say, naïve, friend had never before heard their deep, gruff bellows, so when Dan asked “what the hell is that?” being a self-confessed fan for relentless teasing of the unwary, I offered my summation… “They’re Bears” I informed him, but added “Don’t worry too much mate, they very rarely attack anyone”.
His reaction was classic, a mixture of shock and disbelief… he really didn’t want to believe what he was hearing - either my words, or the ‘bear-calls’ - but it was too late, he had revealed a weakness that I could exploit!
Dan, bless him, quipped “they don’t have wild bears in France, do they?” and his eyes flickered as he searched the archives of his mind for absent information.
Mischievously, with a dead-pan face and chastising tone to my voice, I confirmed his worst fears “are you serious? - Of course they do, you idiot!”, “Didn’t you read about the case of an angler being mauled by a bear only a few months back?”
Being a good deal older in situations such as these is sometimes an unfair advantage, as it’s hard to dismiss the information from a more life-experienced person, especially if their words are spoken convincingly!
Poor guy, not knowing any better he had no choice but to reluctantly believe me.
Later that night, the ‘bears’ were very active. Although, as they were some distance off, deep in the forest, Dan eventually settled, despite being visually disturbed that he might be visited in his sleep by some ferocious foraging beast! Every now and then, as if seeking assurance, Dan would make comments like “Did you hear that one?” “That sounded close!” to which I would offer words of comfort, like “don’t worry mate, he’ll never come into your bivvy, your trainers stink too much!”
The poor lad, he really was quite nervous and I was beginning to feel quite guilty for teasing him but, as yet, not quite guilty enough to tell him the truth!
In the cool light of day, it was a very dreary-eyed Dan who hauled his weary bones from the bivvy as the competition got underway at 09.00. I almost confessed at that point, as I was finding it very difficult to keep a straight face, but I resisted and as the day progressed we both forgot about the matter. That is, until the onset of darkness loomed once more. Oh dear, the wildlife had now become bolder as it had become more accustomed to our presence, and deep into the night something occurred that leaves a vivid memory with me (and certainly Dan!) until this very day.
Earlier that day, we had waded out into knee-deep mud to get those few-extra vital yards to spod our particle out, and there was now a good deal of spillage in the margins. Well, that night, totally oblivious to the family of wild boar feasting on the spod-spill, I was sound asleep in my bivvy when, suddenly, I woke with a start and sat bolt upright.
I wasn’t instantly sure why or what, but something had startled me out of my sleep.
However, before my head had cleared, my sudden reaction and the sharp intake of breath upon waking, spooked Mr & Mrs Boar and their large tribe of youngsters…
Total carnage prevailed, and with the piglets squealing, the adults emitting noises like a herd of panic stricken zebra being chased by a pack of marauding lionesses, and the totally involuntary startled shout from me, all hell broke loose.
The boar family blasted through the mud, taking out all of my lines as they went, and with my buzzers screaming amid this horrific cacophony of noise Dan was finally woken!
The poor sod didn’t have a clue what was happening. His first thoughts were quite obvious to me - he surely must think that a rampaging bear was attacking me, busily ripping my flesh from its bones - and as a result his terrified, ear-drum-bursting, high-pitched screams (akin to those emitted by Flanders in The Simpson’s) can, on still nights, still be heard reverberating around the Foret D’Orient to this very day!
The aftermath of this scene was totally hilarious and we both had copious tears running down our cheeks.
I was now in totally uncontrollable, hysterical laughter, not helped by the fact that as I attempted to confess to Dan that the noises he'd heard were really made by deer, not bears, but I simply couldn't get the words out, and the more I tried, the more I cried in spluttering fits of laughter.
Dan still appeared to be a little confused by what had just occurred, and his laughter was almost manic and stemmed more from utter relief than anything else!
I guess that you really had to be there to fully appreciate this tale, but I'm sure you'll find it mildly amusing!