This story is by John Collier and was part of our 2019 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Wild Pigs, Bucking broncs and Yukon Jack equivalent of Tequila…!!!!
Have you ever had the great opportunity to meet a to meet a pack of wild Pigs face to face at 1:30 in the morning in the middle of the mountains 400 miles south of the border in old Mexico and lived to tell the tale!
As I lay in my Hospital bed in El Paso, Texas confined flat on my back, with a compound fracture in my- right leg, my right rib cage full of cracked ribs and my left arm in a cast form just below my arm pit to over my knuckles. Coming out of being unconscious which had lasted 7 days, I was thinking to myself in a flash back, Skeeter, you didn’t do yourself any favors this time.
As I drifted in & Out of awareness laying in that in that hospital bed, I got to thinking about my latest adventure that had started one night in cold February in the middle of a remote Northern Mexico town named Camargo. I was in a small cantina having a sip or three of the Yukon Jack equivalent of a great Mexican tequila when I overhead three well attired and armed Mexican Vaquero’s planning their next great Gig to smuggle 250 Kilos of cocaine and 100 and a bunch high end men, women and children across the Rio Grande into the lower part of the big Bend National Park, nine days from that evening..
This was country where my father Skeeter Streeter, Senior had developed a 260,000-acre Cattle Ranch starting out in 1948 with a couple sections of land, a great pregnant wife, an ancient Hereford bull and 50 gummer cows and 6 great quarter and Arabian horses, a Stud and 5 mares… He acquired the surrounding acreage over the years form other Ranches and grew the herd to over 2,000 cows and 200 horses and it was where I grew up cowboying and learn how to manage the land and cattle and horses
As I lay in that hospital bed after coming out of the unconscious state I had been in and being awaken every two hours to check my vital signs and draw blood to make sure everything inside of me was A-OK. I remembered back to my college years at Texas A &M as an Animal Science/ Ranch Management Major, and a stint in the US Navy as a Navy seal for 8 years and god knows how many deployments around the world doing covert operations, before I decided what I really wanted to was go back to the ranch to take over from my ailing father.
It was a cold fall day just before thanksgiving when an old friend and fellow seal from my former seal team unit tacked me down Horse back in Old Mexico at the ranch and recruited me to help with US Border Patrol drug and people smuggling… Tim O’Shea convinced me the border patrol really need my unique “Skill Set” to help control the flow of illegal Drugs, People, and contraband form entering the USA. On a case by case basis I became an on-call In-Country Special Border Patrol Agent in addition to my Ranch Management chores of the family Ranch.
I remembered thinking back , watching the helicopter traffic fly over our Ranch, ferrying buildings materials and workers to build the remote Cartel mountainous Hacienda Hideaway That would house the operations and hideaway for moving illegal Drugs, sex trafficking and high end paying customers who had the big bucks to make their lives easier to thru the lightly patrolled and watched remote and desolate areas of the US Border…
The suspected location was not far as the crow flies from our ranch property and that was a no-brainier for the Broder Patrol Intel chiefs to task me with the assignment of locating the facility and destroying what had been created before it could be occupied. If it had been occupied by the time, I found it, the plan was to still destroy the facility but try and minimize any causalities.
When, I returned to the ranch, I gathered my Specialized Ranch Crew together which consisted approximately 12 men and women veterans of various branches of the armed forces of both the US and Mexico, all fluent in Spanish, warfare skills and with Ranch Or fam experience who loved the Ranch and cowboying way of life..
We had developed the team over several years and carried out black-ops each year for which our team was reimbursed handsomely from black-op monies of either government or sometimes some private sauces… These actives were in addition to our ranch operations which was our main cover for our overt actives, that enables us to accomplish our job quickly once we were in location to utilize ur special skills…
When our Crew left the ranch, we were each mounted on stout mountain savvy Quarter and arabinan horses, a small remuda of 6 extra horses and a pack string of 15 mules packed with our gear for at least 10 days on the trail. We had a time window approximately 7 days left out the nine days until the new Hacienda was to be operational for smuggling activities.
Our team left at a fast trot which would allow us to cover the most ground in the shortest length of time in the early morning, stopping every couple of hours to rest our animals until late in the evening. We had started to pick up construction and helicopter sounds from the easterly direction we were headed deep into the un-inhabited mountains where we were headed.
By midafternoon of the third day we found the hacienda tucked back underneath a n overhang of rock much like the Pueblos of norther New Mexico, a perfect location to avoid overhead observation and detection as you had to be almost right to them for discovery…We moved on up the canyon about a mile from the faculties and proceed to unload our pack animals and corral the cattle we had gathered on our way into the site. We sent a couple of teams of 4 each to scout out the landscape and place charges in the overhanging cliff above the Hacienda for its destruction as it was apparently un-occupied with only a couple of guards on the outskirts the buildings.
Our plan was to blow the charges and cave the cliff over the hidden site, burying it in rock and rubble and making the staging area unusable for the cartel. Great plan and it worked well up to the point of the explosion of the charges that had been previously set by our teams, that is when all Hell broke loose…
When the Charges ignited, the vibration shook the whole area like a volcano exploding and it disturbed a rather large den and pack or wild hogs who roosted in the upper portion of the canyon where our team was temporally camped and holding over 200 head of stay wild cattle, and our horse remuda.
This spooked the hell out of all our animals and caused and old-fashioned Cattle Stampede back down the canyon. Some of our team were still mounted and started to buck at the sound and ground vibration and didn’t stopped Bucking until they got rid of their riders and away from the from onslaught of the wild pigs now running and squealing down the canyon. I remember being thrown and my boot getting caught in the stirrup and being drug by my runaway bucking bronc before I passed out…
Fortunately, only two others were injured, and fortunately we had a Satellite phone so our remaining team members could call in a helicopter and air evacuate the 3 of us who were badly injured and unconscious to the nearest hospital in El Paso.
After the medic vac helicopter left with injured, the remaining team members regathered our cattle and horses, packed up and headed back to our home base… I lay in my 10 X 10 pale green painted walls watching mind TV 24/7 Hospital room healing up and mending and thinking back.
If only I had a little more of that Yukon Jack version of Tequila, not been on a spooky Arabian instead of a solid quarter horse and not met face to face with a bunch of snarling, slobbering , squealing Wild Hogs , things would have been a whole lot better for me…!