Life is made complete by the people you meet
I’ve always believed that you can’t really understand what life is really about until you’ve met people from all walks of life. And, thankfully, I’ve met an incredibly diverse range of people over the years who come from a broad spectrum of backgrounds. I’ve met some incredibly interesting people over the years, and some incredibly scary people as well.
There was the time I met a homicide detective in outback Northern Territory, Australia, who seemed to love murder way too much. He spent the evening describing the murders that he had investigated in graphic detail and with an extreme level of enjoyment. It wasn’t so much his love of his work that worried me but the excitement that he expressed at how people had been killed.
I’ve also met some incredibly inspirational people, such as a paraplegic who was told he would never walk again after breaking his neck. Not only is he now walking again, but he’s since become a highly sought after public speaker and has opened multiple businesses across the globe while raising his daughter as a single dad. His story alone would fill a book, which I’m sure he’ll write one day.
Of all the people that I’ve met however, there’s one person who disturbed me the most, but also gave me some incredibly bizarre stories to tell. I met this chap while working on a gold mine in central Western Australia, and we worked together for about 12 months.
For the purpose of this story we’ll call him Darren. Darren worked in my team as an Environmental Technician which meant that his job was very hands on, he’d do a lot of the physical work that our team needed completed and spent much of his day outdoors travelling about the mining operation.
Darren had some bizarre stories to tell, and one that clearly impacted on him heavily was a story about a past male employer who became something of a stalker and wouldn’t leave Darren and his family alone. The experience had clearly left him somewhat damaged. He wasn’t trusting, and barely socialised outside of work.
The other thing that I noticed about Darren was his intense hatred of invasive species. One of the first things that Darren mentioned to me after we started working together was how much he hated feral cats and how eager he was to start trapping and catching them.
On mine sites, we generally have a legal obligation to trap and kill feral cats. Our government believes that there are 15 – 20 million feral cats present in Australia and that they have populated 99.8% of our landmass. Our government also has a target to reduce feral cat populations by 2 million by 2020. So for this reason the state and federal governments impose legal obligations on mine sites to trap and kill feral cats.
It’s quite an absurd obligation to assign however, given that the number of kills that mine sites can realistically achieve is very low. Mine sites are typically limited to cage trapping techniques, which has been proven largely ineffective with cats. Cats very readily become trap shy so steer well clear of cage traps in most cases.
So the numbers of cats that are caught on mine sites are very low, much lower than the breeding rate of cats. Realistically, cat trapping is completely pointless and a waste of time and money on mine sites.
But this fact didn’t deter Darren from his mission to eliminate cats at our mine site. He really did have an incredibly strong hatred of feral animals and was more than happy to go out of his way to trap and kill the feral cats on our mine site. But he didn’t stop at cats. Darren was more than willing to eradicate every feral animal on our mine site.
I discovered just how passionate Darren was about killing feral animals at the worst possible time. We were taking our regional manager on a tour of some of the decommissioned parts of our mine site when we came across a feral goat. This is a fairly normal thing to see, but Darren reacted in the strangest way – he tensed up, his eyes locked on to the goat, turned the car off the road, aimed the vehicle right at it and floored the accelerator.
I glanced back at our regional manager and saw him gripping the seat in front of him in fear, I then screamed at Darren to get back onto the road. And this was the problem, Darren’s focus on the goat was complete. He didn’t even seem to hear me screaming at him. It wasn’t until I grabbed the steering wheel and steered us away from the goat that he realised that I was trying to get his attention.
We got back to the road where I made Darren stop the car so that I could drive the rest of the way. Darren was visibly shaking and kept glancing in the direction of the goat, you could almost see the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He looked like a junkie who had just missed out on getting a much needed hit. I was worried, I’d never seen anything like this before.
We eventually finished the tour and got the regional manager off site. And Darren vanished for a few hours. I imagine he was off hunting for that goat again.
Things didn’t get better, just more disturbing
I was sitting in the office one afternoon, about to knock off for the day, when Darren walked into the office with a giant grin on his face. It was obvious that he was incredibly proud of himself.
Naturally, I wanted to hear his tale so told him to pull up a chair and tell me all about his day. He did better than that. He grabbed a camera out of his bag and handed it to me.
I flicked through the images, the first one was of him standing in front of a dead camel. The second was him kneeling on the camels neck. The third was him shirtless and kneeling next to the camel’s head.
Shocked, I calmly asked how he had killed the camel. He responded with a casual; I chased it in the cruiser until it got tired! The next logical question was; but how did you actually kill it? And this response was the one that disturbed me the most; With the knife that’s in the glove box. I had no idea that we had a knife in the glove box of our cruiser so I went out to check it. The last thing I needed was for a safety inspector to check over our car and find a hunting blade in our car. I found the knife, it was an every day dinner knife.
Darren had chased down a full grown camel until it was so exhausted that it couldn’t run any longer, and slit its throat with the type of knife that you use to cut your vegetables. This was the moment that I knew that Darren had a serious problem. He loved killing way too much to be a healthy and balanced person. He would stop at nothing to take down whatever it was that he was hunting and this scared the hell out of me.
When someone loves killing this much, you have no idea what this thrill of the kill will lead to. Are they going to keep stepping up their kills to bigger and different creatures? He might only target feral animals now but what if the thrill takes him to start killing indiscriminately? All I knew was that his blood lust was not healthy.
Darren the Entrepreneur
Sadly, Darren didn’t stop here. As it turns out, he’s quite the entrepreneur. Darren was skinning all of the cats that he caught and tanning their hides using salt that he stole from the site kitchens.
We found this out when he rocked up to the bar one evening with a stubby holder that he’d made himself. It was a cat skin stubby holder, and the head and upper jaw of the cat folder over the top of the beer can to act as a lid. As soon as the guys at the bar saw his creation, his cat skin stubby holders started selling like hot cakes at $50 a pop.
Darren actually started socialising after that night, but it was only so that he could advertise his stubby holders now that he’d created a little side business for himself.
Where is he now?
I left that site for a new bigger and better job not long after the cat skin stubby holders appeared. I kept tabs on what Darren was up to though. He ended up at an incredibly isolated mine site in regional Northern Territory and moved to a cattle farming property not far from the mine. This meant that he was well and truly away from populated areas. I can only imagine how many cats, goats and camels he was killed out there.
This was not designed to be a story that contains any inspirational messages or hard learned lessons. I just wanted to relay the tale of one of the people who I have met who worried me the most. Darren was someone who was completely overpowered by his addiction to killing feral animals. Every spare moment that he had was spent either setting traps to kill cats, finding other feral animals to kill, or preparing the skins of his recent kills. He was a truly disturbing character.
It’s been years since I’ve checked on Darren’s whereabouts or situation. I genuinely hope he hasn’t promoted himself to larger game hunting.