The Blood Tree
The famous Christmas Place Hunting Club is well known for many strange and eerie sights, but none is stranger than the Blood Tree.
There is a large, (40 acre) lake on the property that is fed from small creeks leading through the heart of the bluffs above it. The largest creek is spring fed and runs year round. The ridges on each side of this creek are extremely steep and almost impossible to climb up or down. The sides are choked with almost impenetrable buck brush, honey suckle, twisted bodock and thorn trees. Few people have made the effort to scout the area, much less hunt there. Walking (or fighting) your way up the creek, from the lake, about 400 yards the narrow sides retreat a little bit and a small swamp is formed in the middle of a hollow. This area is open with big oaks, swamp grass and bubbling muddy ground that you can hardly walk across without sinking to your knees. In the middle of this hidden swamp is a slight knoll about 5 feet high and maybe 25 across. Sitting on top of this knoll is an ancient and gigantic tree that we call the Blood Tree.
The tree is old and almost jet-black as its almost leafless branches loom over the boggy swamp like a giant scarecrow. Year round it is covered in solid blood red leaves and no one has any idea what type tree it is. There is a gaping slit running from the bottom of the twisted tree that goes up about six feet and leaves a hole into the trunk. It is a chilling site as you travel up the sandy creek and see the strange black sentinel standing in the middle of the desolate area. Sometimes your subconscious recognizes danger before you do, and I have always avoided going closer than necessary as I scouted the area.
It was bow season and I was hunting the Persimmon Stand across the Beaver Dam late one afternoon and just before dark, a nice doe came out. It took a few minutes till she was in bow range and I shot. I thought I had made a good shot. The deer took off and I got down. A minute or two later I had found blood and started tracking the doe. A hundred yards later I had to turn on my flashlight as night caught me in the woods. The trail crossed the old ridge road and headed off the side and down toward the creek. I followed slowly as the full moon rose over my shoulder. At the bottom, I followed the spots of blood into a canebrake and then heard a horrible thrashing, a muffled cry of pain from an animal, more thrashing and then silence. I fought my way through and found myself on the edge of the swamp. I crossed the creek and could see where the deer had jumped out through the muddy swamp. I followed; slogging my way forward and then realized that I was getting to the edge of the little rise that held the old tree.
I stepped onto dry ground and my light could see scatterings of small bones mixed in the leaves. Stepping forward, I also saw what looked like pieces of old hide or fur. I reached the base of the tree and could see a large bloody spot. Checking around, the trail seemed to stop at that spot. I walked around but the blood trail ended at the large bloody spot beside the tree. I went back and played my light over the area. The tree trunk was covered in blood. Bits of hair and blood covered the base and I realized then that the slit in front was closed. There was just a thin line up the side of the black tree. Playing my light up, I saw movement and realized I was looking at the hoof of a deer sticking out of the narrow opening. As I watched, it slowly disappeared into the tree. Mesmerized I watched for another movement as I tried to understand what was happening. The slit in the tree slowly gaped open again. The danger I was in finally sank in and I jumped back and ran at the same time. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the limbs moving down toward me and I jumped into the muddy swamp as they grazed my back. I had dropped my bow as I fled, but found the flowing creek and half crawled and half splashed my way back to the lake and walked back to camp. I told the story and everyone talked about how they had felt creepy being near the tree too. We all went back and stared at it from a distance, a few days later, and from then on we have left that little area alone. My bow is probably still lying under it. You can have it if you have the nerve to go get it.
Labels: Campfire Stories