SHULIE - For five straight hours, I scoured the woods of the Chignecto Game Sanctuary along with three members of the Cumberland Integrated Street Crime Enforcement Unit.
What were we looking for? Marijuana.
Cpl. Mike Johnson said I would be able to smell the plant before I saw it, and he was right.
After arriving in the Shulie area with Johnson, Cpl. Dave Baldwin and Const. Tim Hunter, I jumped on a buggy with Hunter while Johnson and Baldwin took to their all-terrain vehicles.
I looked for any of the visible signs they told me to watch for.
"There are several indicators that we look for, but over the years, the growers have found out what we look for and they're good at hiding those," Baldwin said after the outing.
Of those indicators, the most common is a trail into the woods.
Travelling along the dirt roads, we looked for any paths into the bushes and the officers jumped off the vehicles if anything seemed amiss.
We were on the hunt for four different plots, all operated by the same individual.
"This person that we're looking at has grown plants for years," Baldwin said.
"All of the information that was given to us came from a source. It can come from anywhere. If we hear of someone growing something, we look into it."
It was roughly an hour after we started that Hunter jumped off his buggy and headed into the woods to come back with a thumbs-up sign.
I waited until the officers had to secure the area for traps before heading into the woods to the area that Baldwin said was probably used for a while.
"The ground was soiled well and the fence was really secure," he said.
Out of the four plots, only three were found, with a total of 221 plants. And that doesn't include the 10 plots or so that were found on two different occasions with officers flying in helicopters.
Because the plants were found on provincial property, Baldwin said no charges would be laid.
"Growers rarely plant on their own property. We might have an idea of who is growing it, but unless we find somebody on the property at the time, no charges are laid," he said.
"We just looking to get the drugs off the streets."
The plants from the three plots ranged in size and age, however most were adult plants. Some were even dwarf plants.
"The marijuana would have been worth a lot on the streets," said Baldwin.
Having been with the street crime unit for the past two years, Baldwin thinks marijuana is a problem not just in Cumberland County, but everywhere.
"It keeps us busy year-round," he said. "We're out from July to mid-September either on foot, in cars or on ATV's.
"The prime season for outdoor operations is anywhere from May to the end of October.
"The outdoor operations would be gone for the most part now, so we're looking at the information we have on indoor operations."
Anyone that might have information can call the street crime unit at 667-3859.
"We get our job done. For anyone that is talking to us, we have to protect them. They don't have to give us their name, but that doesn't mean we can't use that information."