Some pot growers are now planting their crops on hard-to-reach sites on Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service land, or even private timberlands. They’ll clear a space, till the soil and even pipe water in from a nearby creek. If they should get busted, all they’d lose is the crop. Usually, there is a grower-guard nearby to tend the crop and discourage intruders.
The downside of this phenomenon is that innocent outdoor enthusiasts like you and me might unwittingly stumble across one of these illegal pot plantations. The owner-operators are not your typical paragons of virtue. Running into a pot patch could get you killed.
Conventional wisdom now among timber cruisers, foresters and similar workers is to immediately get the heck out of there as quickly as possible. The money involved is astronomical, and a relatively small planting can net hundreds of thousands of dollars, contributing to the degree of violence with which the growers may defend their crops.
Ordinarily, the average outdoors enthusiast would not be likely to come across a pot plantation, because the growers are sharp enough to plant them in low-traffic areas. But there are exceptions to every rule.
Some years back, two buddies and I were hiking along a popular trail along one of the main Sierra rivers. We approached a trio of men coming from the other direction who seemed a bit out of place. My buddies and I were adorned with fishing rods, creels and fishing vests, but the fellows approaching us carried short-barreled riot guns and wore bulging backpacks. It wasn’t hunting season, and something didn’t seem right.
As our two groups passed each other, not a word was spoken, and the hair was standing up on the back of my neck. I’m pretty sure we had passed a group of pot growers taking their crop to market. Quite truthfully, if that never happens again, that will be just fine with me.
If you should come across a pot growing area, don’t panic, just stay calm and exit the area. Watching your surroundings is pretty good advice wherever you are. But if you spot plastic irrigation lines leading away from a wilderness creek, I recommend that you stifle your curiosity and get the heck out of there ASAP.
Until next time, tight lines.
• Don Moyer, author and outdoors columnist for the Tracy Press, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.