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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Loaded for Bear

By Deb who blogs at Simple Not Easy

It was early spring and the mountain air was sharp and fragrant with the rising sap from birch, oozing resins of fir, spruce and pine. Our wee house was located on the downslope of the last stony thrust of the Rocky Mountains. A small flat area had been bulldozed to the east.

The main door opened onto this area. The only window on this side was just large enough to allow you to see who was on the front porch.

The western side had the windows and the view was breathtaking - a stretch of meadow, the Columbia River and beyond that, the perpetually snow-capped Purcell Mountains. We lived surrounded by miles of unbroken wilderness.

Friends had come for dinner and it had been a pleasant evening. I tucked my boys (ages two and nine) in and went to bed. About 2:00AM, I was awakened by our dog barking and pawing at my bedroom window. He raced around the house baying and I had the sickening thought that maybe coyotes had gotten into the barn with the livestock. I threw on my robe and went to check.

I was a few feet from the front door when I heard the creaking. I stood transfixed as the door visibly bulged inward. I turned on the porch light and looked out the window. A huge black bear was standing on his hind feet, his shoulder pressed to the door, pushing with all his might.

My first thought was for my boys. If the bear got inside, they were only steps away. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a skillet. I drew back and hit the door as hard as I could with the bottom of the skillet. It rang like a gunshot.

The bear said "Oof!" and jumped backwards off the the porch. The dog grabbed a mouthful of bear end and began shaking. It wasn't much of a match but it took the bear by surprise. He took off up the hill, the dog right behind him.

The next day, I borrowed an ancient long gun from a neighbour. When I fired it, the recoil knocked me down. The RCMP came out and laughed at me and my borrowed gun. “If you hit him with that you'll just make him mad,” the officer said. “You'd better get a better gun than that.”

So I drove the 40 miles to town to buy a gun.

The gun shop owner wouldn't sell me one. "Here's what you need," he said. From under the counter he pulled a slingshot. I am not lying. He wanted me to go after a huge bear with a slingshot. "This is a hunting sling," he said. (It was an aluminum gizmo with an extension that slipped over your forearm.)

"All you want to do is sting him,” he said. “Make him associate your place with pain. Get some rocks about the size of a big marble and smack him as hard as possible in the ribs with rocks as fast as you can reload."

So, that night I had two dozen marble-sized rocks lined up on the window sill and my sling at the ready. When the dog began screaming, "BEAR! BEAR!" I slammed the skillet on the door and while the dog and the bear circled each other 15 feet away, I stood on the porch and hit the bear in the ribs with three or four rocks in quick succession.

He jumped, said, ooofff, and then hightailed it up the slope, dog on his heels.

The bear woke our nearest neighbour about midnight a few nights later. John raised sheep. John heard bleating, grabbed his gun and ran to his sheep-pen. The bear was lobbing sheep against the side of the barn, one by one. By the time John shot him, 80 sheep were dead.

Most of the time the bears (and cougars) came and went without incident but this was the exception I'll always remember, and gives me the right to brag that I've hunted bear with a slingshot and lived to tell the tale.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Wow! What an amazing story, and very beautifully written! I have nightmares like that, but don't think I could ever have had the nerve to even live there, let alone go after a bear with a slingshot.Kudos to you.


I must say, you are a much braver person than I am.

Good for you for going after that bear with a slingshot.

I admire your courage but your story really makes me happy that I was born and raised a city girl.....

The only wildlife I have ever come in contact with were Eagles and they were football players.

Great story,well written...

What a great story about your faith in a slingshot. You are one brave woman in my mind.

Wonderful wonderful story - I'll keep it in mind if I ever meet a bear in St. Louis. Thanks.

I loved it. Such a spirit of adventure and "I'll take care of this problem." Yes ladies, we can do whatever is necessary.

Lucky you to have such a riveting story to tell your grandchildren! It was terrific - I takes me hat off to you.

Reminds me of my mother-in-law when she came upon a bear in the woods. Rather than get upset, she asked it which of them was going to get to use the path, her or the bear? She said it disappeared so fast she hardly saw it leave. She must have been scary at five foot, 119 lbs! Wish now I knew about that slingshot!

You are a gutsy woman. That dog was a protector and wonder dog. Great story.

Loved your story, bears and slingshots, wow..I saw bears in the Central Park Zoo as a child and even though they were behind l2 foot iron bars, I stood very still, very quiet while lots of folks were yelling out to the bears..I guess if you live in wild, you get a better head about it..I got goosebumps reading about the bear trying to break into your house through the front door...yikes..the slingshot, that will stay in my mind for ages now..and I though the Bibe story of David and the slingshot was good...this use of slingshot gives me a whole "nother" thing to ponder...What a writer..what a graphic description in your story about the bear hurling the sheep against the barn, I never heard of anything like that before, so I was waiting for a whole other next sentence..Again, great writing, wonderful scene building..thank you.

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