We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Friday, December 1. 2006
This true story came in over the transom today:
THE LONGEST MINUTE
by Doug White, September 16, 2006
We all have read about or seen movies entitled, 'The Longest Day', 'The Longest Yard', or 'The Longest Mile'. Well, I am going to tell you about "The Longest Minute" of my life.
Reed Thompson and I had been hunting hard for five days. The day was Thursday, September 7, 2006. The weather had turned from beautiful sunny skies to gale force winds and the blasting rain that comes with fall storms. Never has the weather dictated hunting time to us, so out we ventured into the Alaska bush. Not seeing a single bull for several days, we decided to hunt an area downstream that had always produced one. Late in the evening, we were walking down a raised half mile long finger of ground that was full of grass and alders. This turf was slightly higher than the swampy tundra on either side of it. We had slogged across the swamp as quickly as possible, during a sudden deluge, to get to the downwind point. Our hope was that our passage would not be observed with the sudden increased wind and rain. About halfway down the finger, Reed turned to me and said, "I think there is a moose up ahead. It looks like two white sticks in the grass. It would surprise me if it was not a moose."
I glassed the area about one hundred yards ahead and to the left. With Reed's help, I zeroed in on the two white sticks and watched them for several minutes. With the slightest movement, the two sticks transformed into a white paddle and then back to the two sticks. The bull had moved his head ever so slightly. I moved my scope out to ten-power and focused in on the two white sticks as Reed moved about ten yards further down the high ground. Then as Reed focused on the white points, I moved to his location for a better shot. Reed began moving toward our quarry as I watched for movement though the scope. With nothing solid or high enough to rest my rifle on, I was forced to aim free-hand. When Reed had taken a few steps, I saw the horns rock to the right and then back to the left. The big boy then stood up and was looking directly our way. Even with the forty mile an hour winds blowing directly at us, he sensed our presence. I squeezed off a round from my Browning .338 and felt good about the shot, but the bull took two or three steps to my right and disappeared out of sight behind some alders. Reed could still see him and shouted, "Do you want me to shoot him?"
I yelled back at him to go ahead because I did not want the bull running too far. I heard his shot as I was scrambling forward to get a better look. After a thirty yard hustle, I was able to see the huge fellow still standing. I put another shot into him and watched him drop. We both hesitantly, but with great excitement, approached this giant and realized that he was dead. This was a mature bull with a beautiful rack and the biggest body mass I had ever seen. The fun was definitely over; now, the real work was ready to begin. After consulting the GPS, we noted that we were a half mile from the slough and boat. It was decided that both of us should return to the boat to discard unnecessary items and return with the gear needed to prepare and pack out the meat. We placed red and blue handkerchiefs high in an alder bush so that the sight could be located from the adjacent high ground. This was the easiest half mile hike of the day. I was pumped up and excited beyond explanation.
At the boat, we left our heavy rifles. We gathered our pack frames, game bags, ropes, and knives. After Reed repositioned the boat, to compensate for the upcoming low tide, I asked him, with hand signals, if he remembered to get the handguns. He did not understand my award winning charade performance, but I let it pass after observing his revolver strapped to his chest.
Upon returning to the moose, we were hot, sweaty, and wet. The rain had abated for awhile, so we removed our rain gear and hung them in a small tree about five yards perpendicular to the moose's belly. Reed removed his revolver, hung it on a branch opposite his jacket, and brought to my attention that it was hanging there.
With darkness approaching, we decided on removing the top front and rear quarters, tie them to our pack frames, gut him out, and then roll the behemoth over to cool through the night. We would return in the morning to finish up. Two non-spoken traditions when hunting are: whoever pulls the trigger 1) does the gutting and 2) hauls the horns out of the woods. After removing the two quarters, it was time to remove the internal organs. After cutting, tearing, and ripping, I had removed all but the heart and part of the esophagus. Darkness was settling in pretty fast and I could barely move my arms. At this point, Reed said that he would trade places with me. Instead of moving up behind the moose, I just scooted to the rear leg area and watched Reed crawl up inside the gut cavity. After a couple of cuts the ordeal was over. As Reed pulled the heart out and tossed it behind us, a loud "HUFF" snapped us to our feet. Turning around, we saw standing before us, on his hind legs a large, chocolate brown grizzly bear. The next minute seemed to last an eternity. The term surreal is so over used, but the next minute was dreamlike, bizarre, fantastic, and unreal.
The bear was standing next to the tree where the pistol was hanging. We both started shouting and waving our arms back and forth, as we moved somewhat to our right, toward the tail end of the moose. The bear came down off his back legs, onto all fours, and started circling to his right -- toward the head of the bull. My only thought was to get to the gun so that we could scare him off. I sensed that he charged us from the head of the moose as I broke for the gun. Reed commented later that the bear vaulted over the moose and went straight for him. Halfway to the tree, I tripped on a fallen log and went down on all fours. From my peripheral vision on my right, I saw the bear going after Reed, who had moved into the tall (5 foot) grass. It appeared that the bear had knocked Reed down and was standing over him. My worst fear was that my friend was being mauled. I did not know how I would get him back to the boat and then home. I grabbed the holster but was unable to remove the revolver, regardless of how hard I tugged. As I looked up, I saw the bear charging toward me. I started backing up as I continued screaming and hollering at the bear. I was frustrated that the pistol would not break free from the holster. With the bear almost on top of me, I fell over another log. I did a back drop and felt him grab my left leg. His huge head was above my lap, just out of reach of my holstered club. I tried to hit him with the pistol but a crazy thought entered my mind that I could scare him into thinking I was going to shoot by waving it back and forth. Unable to remove the pistol from the holster, I tried to shoot through it, but the strap held the hammer down on the single action revolver. Just when I thought all was lost, the bear rose up, pivoted 90 degrees to his left, and was gone. The grizzly had charged back in the direction of Reed as he had jumped up and yelled once again. Later, Reed stated that he had seen the bear knock me down and thought he was mauling me. The thought entered his mind that he was toast. He was alone in the grass with no weapon. I was down and I had the gun. When the bear started moving toward him, Reed dropped back down into the low wallow area where he had fallen during the initial charge. Reed saw the bear's face about a foot from his own. He could hear the bear trying to sniff him out. At that point, the bear stood up, pivoted to his right, and charged back to me.
When Reed distracted the bear from its attack on me, I had time to concentrate on the holster. I saw a buckle with a strap running through it. I could not figure out how it held the gun in place, so I grabbed the buckle and attempted to \rip it off. To my surprise, the buckle was actually a snap and the strap peeled away. As I pulled the revolver out, a sudden calm came over me, and I knew everything would be fine. I looked in the direction of Reed only to once again see the bear charging at me. He was about ten feet away coming up and over the initial log that I had tripped over. That was when I pointed the revolver and fired at center mass. The .44 magnum boomed in the night and the boar fell straight down, his head three feet away from where I stood. As he fell, he bit at the ground and ended up with a mouthful of sod. I stood in a dumbfounded stupor. I had no expectation that the pistol would kill the bear. My hope was that the shot would sting the bear and help scare him away along with the flame and loud report. As his head sagged to the ground, I shot him three more times in quick succession, out of fear and anger.
My next sensation was hearing Reed's voice ask if the bear was dead. I answered, "Yes". He then yelled at me to save the rest of the rounds because we still had to walk out, and he did not have any more bullets with him. The minute was over. We hugged each other for a long time, before packing out the two quarters.
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Talk about calm in the face of fire. Both of those gentlemen did a good job. Hell of a story.
You mean they murdered a moose and a bear?!?! Oh, my. Tsk, tsk. Gaia will get them, fersure.
We are building our retirement home in what used to be a farming valley--still is in most places. However, it is now also a preserve for Grizzly bears. You can't shoot em unless their is immediate danger (when isn't there?) You can bet from now on our evening stroll will include my husband's revolver of the same size.
Of course, when I told the guy at the gun store we needed a gun for grizzly bear protection, I also told him about the guy from Las Vegas, who had just bought the ranch on two sides of us--he is one of those take over artists. you know the kind that use retirement funds to buy out a company. After hearing that story, the guy in the gun store handed me the most light weight shot gun I have ever held. When he cocked it (that amazing wonderful sound is almost as good as a Buccati motorcycle!) he asked me if I thought I could handle this one for the other animals I might have to confront!
Thanks again for a good story.
Glad people enjoyed the story. As you all know, grizzlys do not live on meat and they are not predators, but they love dead meat if they can find it....like most people in restaurants.
Killer grizzly bear shot, killed
By SHERRY DEVLIN, The Missoulian
A female grizzly bear and its two cubs-of-the-year were shot and killed by bear managers Friday after they returned to the meadow in the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area where a hunter was fatally mauled earlier in the week.
“We are confident that these are the bears” that attacked and killed Timothy Hilston, said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Servheen made the decision to kill the bears.
Hilston, 51, was alone, gutting an elk Tuesday morning when the 350-pound female and her two 125-pound cubs followed the elk’s blood trail across the meadow to the edge of an open pine forest. He probably did not see the grizzly until the moment of the attack, Servheen said.
Hilston never had a chance to reach for his gun and was not carrying bear-deterring pepper spray. His body was found Wednesday morning about 130 yards from the elk. He was the first hunter killed by a grizzly bear since 1956, when a man was killed by a wounded bear in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
“This type of aggression by a bear is very uncommon,” said Servheen. “Ninety-nine percent of all grizzlies avoid humans. The fact that this bear attacked someone while he was on an elk carcass is unacceptable. That is unnatural aggression.”
It is natural and expected for a grizzly bear to defend its young or to attack during a surprise encounter, he said. It is unnatural for a bear to approach a person, and even more so to attack.
“The safety of people is primary here,” Servheen said. “We can’t allow mother bears to teach their young to be aggressive to people.”
The cubs were killed both because they likely would not have survived the winter without their mother and because they had been taught a deadly lesson. “A young bear is a mirror of its mother,” Servheen said. “If their mother seeks out gut piles and shows aggression toward humans, they will probably do that as well.
“Dealing with this bear is a good thing because it will help all bears,” he said. “We do not protect bears, we manage bears. And a bear that exhibits unnatural aggression is not good for the population. This was a very unusual thing, for a grizzly to do this.”
“Do we like to kill grizzly bears? No,” said Bill Thomas, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “Was this absolutely necessary? Yes it was. We feel very confident that these are the bears.”
Early Thursday morning, bear managers set a culvert trap near the site of the attack. Within hours, a grizzly pushed against the trap, but did not venture inside. The bear left a paw print later matched to the female grizzly.
Late Thursday, three snare traps were also set. Overnight, the female grizzly and one of the cubs stepped into snares. The other cub stayed close by.
Because the bears came back to the meadow even after game wardens removed the elk carcass was further evidence of their guilt in the attack, Servheen said. The sow grizzly came back looking for another meal from the elk.
The female and cubs had, in fact, made a practice of feeding on gut piles, he said. Another group of hunters scared them off an elk a week ago, and reported the sighting to wardens at a game check station in Bonner.
“There were six of us total who went back to retrieve the elk,” said Dan Holshue, one of the hunters who encountered the grizzlies last Saturday. “ We heard crashing through the trees and saw three sets of tracks, definitely those of an adult and two cubs. About half of the gut pile had been eaten, and they had peeled the hair off the rib cage and started to eat on the ribs.”
Holshue, an investigator at the State Crime Lab in Missoula, said a friend shot the elk about four miles east of the Blackfoot-Clearwater game range. As soon as he heard about the hunter’s mauling, he knew it was probably the same bears.
“There were a lot more of us when we came across those bears,” Holshue said. “We were making a lot of noise and commotion. But we still didn’t waste any time getting the elk loaded and out of the area. We had seen several sets of grizzly tracks that day.”
Game managers will reopen the Blackfoot-Clearwater to hunters on Saturday, but warned that there are other grizzly bears in the area. All hunters, Thomas said, should carry pepper spray and no one should hunt alone.
Fifty hunters have permits to hunt elk in the wildlife management area.
The grizzly killed on Friday was 13 to 15 years old and had spent its life in the upper Blackfoot Valley, Servheen said. It denned in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and was caught once before by game managers — accidentally, in 1999, while they were looking for a male grizzly that had killed livestock on a ranch near Ovando.
Servheen said there is no way to know exactly what happened on Tuesday morning. The cubs may have bounded across the meadow to the elk, unaware that the hunter was still on the animal. Maybe they cried out to their mother. Maybe she attacked in response.
“Everything is total speculation,” he said. “I suspect it had something to do with the cubs. They probably ran on ahead. The whole thing was probably very quick, a matter of seconds.”
With more than 500 grizzlies in the northern Rockies, Friday’s deaths won’t set back efforts to recover the species, Servheen said. And it shouldn’t turn public opinion against the animals, he said.
“Knowledgeable people will put this event into context,” he said. “These things are extremely rare. We never want this to happen, though. Every human death is unfortunate. We have great sympathy for Timothy Hilston’ s family. It is most unfortunate that this happened, but also very unlikely that it will happen again anytime soon.”
here is a list of people,who have been killed by bears. Some were indeed stalked. They believe that one of the men killed in Glacer had film in his camera that showed the grizzly in the shadows. The photographer did not see this--the forensic people found it when they developed the film.
Would like to publish your Moose/grizz story in Rack Magazine - an all species trophy hunting magazine published by Buckmasters, Ltd.
Would this be possible?
Editor in Chief
I can put you in contact with my Dr. White, my father, if you would like to put something in your magazine. e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org