The air inside was stuffy but surprisingly comfortable, helped along by two giant ceiling fans turning slowly, but consistently. Two of the three walls I could see were lined with heads and bodies of long-ago departed animals; their petrified remains on display for the enjoyment or admiration of visitors to Harmon’s Creek Fish Camp. Deer with large antlers, Bobcats showing sharp teeth, wild hogs, oversized largemouth Bass, and even a turkey in flight gave the room an odd aura – more like a museum rather than a bait shop. I assumed the dead fish and animals were intended to represent what the successful hunter or fisherman could expect from their visit. However, the prey I expected from my visit to Harmon’s Creek would be different; quite different.
Light for the dark room came mostly from outside, with just a single lamp burning somewhere in a far corner – I couldn’t see the source. Several large windows surrounded most of the building, and an open screen porch next to the river provided an almost natural atmosphere to a room crowded with dead animals and dusty fishing gear.
To my right, fiberglass rods and cane poles stood in the far corner next to three metal shelves, which were mostly empty; holding just a few plastic containers of fish hooks, lead weights and rolls of fishing line. The near corner had a wood stove and half-dozen straight back chairs surrounding a small table and checkerboard - exhibiting an unfinished game.
A glass counter to my left was almost completely covered with various pieces of fishing tackle, plastic bait buckets, dated outdoor magazines and unopened boxes of night crawlers. I walked up to the dusty counter, gently tapped on it and spoke to what I thought was an empty room.