The 1981 cult classic Southern Comfort details a group of National Guardsmen led by Powers Boothe who come across Cajuns in the vast Atchafala Basin swamp that don’t take too kindly to outsiders.
When Southeast Texas outdoors lover Todd Haney was 15 years old he encountered something similar along the lonesome Sabine River corridor.
“My encounter was something that could have come right out of that movie,” Haney said.
“I had put a trotline out in the backwaters on the Louisiana side of the Sabine. I was around 15 years old. After a few weeks the river started to drop out so I went to take the line up and move out to the river. The line was about a mile from the river through a narrow channel.”
“When I got about 3/4 of the way in, I noticed a camp on a ridge consisting of a tent and some typical camping supplies, but no one in sight. I didn’t think much of it other than it’s a remote area only accessible by boat. When I came out of the channel into a larger backwater cypress swamp where the line was, I saw a boat pulled up to the bank about a hundred yards to the right. Still not very concerned because I was just going to be in there a few minutes, just long enough to take up the line I preceded to take up the line.”
That’s when things got scary.
“I got about half of the hooks off the line when I heard the sound of a person walking in the leaves on the bank in front of me. And with a heavy Cajun accent, speaks.
“What are you doing back here?”
Haney was alone with his pit bull terrier Babe who went everywhere with him and a Marlin .22.
“I’m taking this line up that I put here about two weeks ago,” Haney replied.
The man with the Cajun accent had a different idea.
That’s my line. You better the the (fill in the blank) out of here or I am going to blow that (fill in the blank again) boat out from under you.”
He could see the man about 50 yards away and he was holding what looked like a shotgun in his hands.
“I said ‘OK’ but reached down and grabbed my knife and cut the line in two door spite,” Haney said.
“As I eased out of the cypress swamp I saw another man now standing near the boat that I saw earlier. Thinking back, those were direct threats to my life in the exchange of words. It’s been 34 years ago now, and I can’t remember exactly what all was said but I knew they weren’t joking.”
Turns out a pair of brothers from nearby had shot someone a few years earlier and in hindsight Haney thinks he encountered them.
“I had just watched Southern Comfort a year earlier. I never thought I would live it.”
Chester Moore, Jr.