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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HOM: Laird Grizzly

Well, actually they were all black bears, and it's kind of a long story. To start with, Lyn & I got to be friends with another guy I worked with on deck named Chris, whose wife was also named Chris. His birthday was 12/25, to give you a hint at his full name. I bought my 1973 Datsun pickup from him & fixed it up for hunting. I rigged a gun rack on the windshield frame that let me carry the gun vertically with the muzzle clipped to the frame and the butt on the floor by the driver's door. Secondly, Lyn & I got to be friends with Jim & Wanda Pierson at the church and Jim & I hunted together quite a bit. Jim worked at C&C too, but a different shift at the opposite end of the mill. So Jim & I were bear hunting up above Star Meadows, drove around a corner, and startled three bears in the road. Jim took off after them on foot, but I had a problem: the bolt on my rifle wouldn't close. I always kept the bolt open when the rifle was in the rack and I finally figured out that when I got out of the truck I bumped the cocking piece with my foot and it twisted around so that it hit the receiver when I tried to close the bolt. It was one of those "Well, duh!" moments. Nope, we didn't get any bears. Jim didn't find them and by the time I got the rifle puzzle figured out they were probably in the next county. Laird teased me unmercifully about "Bear Fever" when he heard about it and rubbed it in that I was just so nervous about the bears I forgot how to use the rifle. So Laird & I went bear hunting. He was still laughing and I was still seething as we puttered along. I'd made up my mind to stay calm and quiet no matter what, so when I glanced out my window and saw a bear out in a clear cut. I never said a word, just slowly eased the track to a stop. Laird gave me a "What's up?" look and I said "Excuse me for a moment, Laird, while I shoot this bear." "Bear! What bear? Where? Where?" "This one." I took a body shot that rolled the bear down a slope & then nailed it again when it stopped. Dead bear. And I kept my mouth shut and moved slow and Laird was the one that got excited. When he asked where I hit it, I told him I didn't know, I had my eyes shut. For some reason that got him a little more wound up. I guess he believed me, though when he saw the heart shot and head shot I'd made, he may have had some doubts. Anyway, we dressed the bear, loaded it into the truck, and headed on down the road. I waited quite a while and then asked Laird if he'd seen any signs of "Bear Fever". When he said "No. In fact, I've never seen anybody so laid back over shooting something." I said "Good!" Then I yelled, whooped, pounded on his shoulder, yelled some more, danced around, carried on and generally blew off steam for a couple of minutes while he looked at me like I was crazy. Bottling up my excitement for that long had been hard, but I was determined to end the "Bear Fever" teasing, and I did. And for a quick "Chris" story -- we were at his house playing Yahtzee and I had this tube in my pocket of a brand new product called "Super Glue". I was trying it out, so when no one was looking I put a tiny drop on one of the pair of dice we were using. When Mrs. Chris tried to pick it up, she couldn't. Neither could Chris. He finally knocked it loose with the side of his hand and then everyone puzzled over what had made it stick to the table. And I kept my mouth shut. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)