B y R a n d y Wi l l i a m s
Epilogue: The Old Camp
A hidden camp on Hutaff, the remote barrier island, was a place of refuge for a generation of fishermen.
In 2021 it was razed, leaving those who cherished time there profoundly disappointed.
The Indian came in complete silence,
startling the Skipper with a perfect
imitation of an owl as he burst into
“I had a dream last night” he said to
the unsettled Skipper. “I was a great
horned owl, and you were an osprey.
I was sitting atop the big cedar tree
watching you fly above the camp. You
kept diving down then soaring back up,
not hunting but searching for some-thing.
You floated in the sea breeze for a
long time, then you flew out high above
the shoals. I followed and watched you
dive down into a great school of bull
drum. You transformed into one of
them and swam with the big reds to
a sandbar way out in the inlet. There
were thousands of fish on that bar, just
congregating in the shallow water,
soaking up the sun. And then I woke
“What do you think it means?” asked
“I think it means something is about
to change,” said the Indian.
The majestic dune is impressive and irresistible. The reward for a
climb to the top is an astounding 360-degree panorama of land, sea,
and a thousand acres of verdant marsh. The ridge rises from a wind-swept
island landscape that has been pummeled and flattened over the
years by numerous hurricanes. But the big dune has withstood them all.
For decades it was memorialized by a marker embedded at its
highest point that read: “US Coast Geodetic & Survey Benchmark.
For Information Write To The Director Washington D.C. $250 Fine Or
Imprisonment For Disturbing This Mark.” The words were stamped on
the top of a brass disk in a circular fashion.
16 january 2022
It looked very official. It is gone now.
Perhaps some yet-to-be fined or imprisoned felon has pulled it up.
Or perhaps it is still there, covered by sand. At the base of the dune
is an island meadow with a path that leads into a natural enclave of
yaupon, wax myrtle, dwarf palmetto, cedar, and other island flora. If
you were shipwrecked on Hutaff Island, this is where you would want
Long before I-40 connected Wilmington to the rest of the world,
local drum fishermen knew about this place. For them it was sacred
WBM FILE PHOTO