Some of you may remember me writing about this on the now defunct Brady Blog. I’m reposting here for those who missed reading about it there or on the cover of the New York Times. Ok, that’s a huge lie, the NYT never covered it, but they should have.
For those who read my welcome post, this happened during one of our camping trips in Idaho with Grandma and Grandpa. I stated that that story spawned many others; this is but one of them.
The Grands were a funny bunch; we had access to the .22’s and ammo at age 10 but couldn’t take the Honda Enduro 250 motorcycles out for a spin until we reached the ripe old age of 12 because motorcycles were dangerous. Their concept was that transportation to the best hunting grounds was more hazardous than our shooting activities once we arrived as long as we followed the 4 basic rules of gun safety. It was explained to us that if we violated any safety rules with the gun or the bike, both would be denied to us. Grandpa taught me how to ride and seemed ever so delighted in taking me down steep hills and through creek beds at high speeds. I wrecked a few times before I realized that I could follow his tracks at a slower speed and still reach the destination. That was exactly what he was trying to teach me but he knew it would have a bigger impact if I discovered it myself. So he let me wreck and the lesson burned in.
2 years later, at the age of 14, my “vacation” started as it had before. I gorged on breakfast, slammed my fork on the table and asked for Grandpa’s Marlin Golden 39A lever action .22 and keys to the motorcycle. I slung the rifle cross chest and left the adult camp behind.
The cool thing about trail riding in Idaho is that all the pine needles makes the soil too acidic for most underbrush to grow. Pick a line and hit the gas.
So I’m cruising along hoping to end up where the jack rabbits stand still and I hear a noise off to my left side that I knew didn’t come from the bike, even though it was close enough to make me think twice. It wasn’t a snort, it wasn’t a grunt…it was like the devil himself attempting to blow out an eternity of candles on a cake he hated.
I had just disturbed a sleeping black bear, and apparently, he was kinda pissed.
At first, I really wasn’t that concerned. I figured that the Honda could outpace him with a flick of the wrist. The problem was that even though I didn’t have underbrush to deal with, I was still “off-trail” and dodging pine trees both standing and sprawled on the ground.
I’m now doing 40mph through the woods and looking over my shoulder and seeing him pace me. All the classic crap happened. Time slowed down, adrenaline pumped, my butt hole puckered a bit. I was scared.
I spent a little too much time looking over my shoulder and clipped a grand old pine tree with my left handle bar. The plastic hand guard saved me some broken fingers but I still ate a mouthful of dirt on impact.
With everything still in slow-mo, I knew I couldn’t get back to the bike and escape in time. It was go time. I ripped the .22 off my back and fired it into the ground before I even realized I was cocking the rifle again.
I managed to get off 3-5 shots before he stopped his advance. He looked at me with eyes I can not describe. On one hand, he looked at me like I was easy prey, and the next glance was something akin to “don’t ever do that again.”
I knew a .22 wasn’t the ideal bear load and I played my bluff. Thankfully, he/she didn’t want to come any closer to my boom stick.
For those who argue that 2-legger scum don’t respect the laws against violence, I would like to add the fact that 4-leggers can’t even comprehend the nature of laws to begin with.
Stay safe, stay armed. Your life may depend upon it.