Monday, August 29, 2011

Death in the woods

An acquaintance of mine died last weekend. Jere Melo had spent over 50 years of his life hanging out in the woods.  He loved everything about the outdoors.  He loved the forested mountains and the Pacific coast.  For himself and his family, they had the best of both worlds.  Jere lived in Fort Bragg California, which is a small town on the California coast surrounded by beautiful and productive redwood forests.  Jere was the past mayor of Fort Bragg and had been on the city council for 15 years.  He was well liked by all.  All I can do is offer my sympathy and condolences to Jere’s wife and family.  The entire community of Fort Bragg, California is going to suffer because of his death.  

When one hears of someone dying in the woods you think first of a heart attack.  It could have been a bad fall or worse yet, an attack by a bear or mountain lion.  A hunting accident is also a possibility.  If Jere died from any of those causes at least we could say that he wouldn't have minded dying that way.  He loved doing what he did for a living. 

Jere knew the woods like the back of his hand.  He was the manager of that land and was looking for the pot farm so he could call in the location of the crop and have it eradicated.  Unfortunately, Jere and his coworker ran across a plantation guard who had no regard for human life.  Jere was shot and killed in the woods. His coworker was able to escape. The man who shot Jere was described as being fully armored, dressed all in black, with a semi-automatic weapon.  It is assumed that the gunman was a guard for a pot crop growing in the woods, although there is rumor that the crop was opium poppy.  

Being out in the woods is a dangerous place to be, and not just because of the bears or mountain lions.  It doesn’t matter if you are just out for a hike in the woods, practicing your survival skills, or are conducting some form of fire or forestry work.  People who act as guards for the drug trade spend their time lying in wait for someone to come by.  If you venture off the well beaten path you’d better know what you are doing and where you are going.  You’d better have the ability to have outside communication. 

There is so much talk about bugging out into wooded areas to be safe from the hordes.  The individuals in the woods are more frightening to me and I, like Jere, know the woods like the back of my hand.


  1. We should all be so lucky to have such a great life filled with enjoyment and doing the things that matter to us. Sad for the loss of someone who sounds like a great man.

  2. That is one of the most horrible things I have ever read. I am so sorry for this family. Jere sounds like a man I would have been proud to call a friend. My deepest sympathies,
    Nurse Amy

  3. Condolences to his family and friends. Despite loving the woods as a retreat and for the bounty it can provide I make sure to always be armed. No place can be 100% safe. It sucks to have that be a world truth.

  4. damn, sorry to hear about your loss.

  5. I was just reading about this. Forgetting the legality issue, it seems a bit odd is that given the relative freedom to grow pot in Northern CA, why someone chose to still do it in such a way? Seems to prove no matter how free we become, someone will always have to go farther.

    I pray for your friends family and the town of Fort Bragg.