Give Up! - The Black Wolf''
again the sun was setting and the chilling air
made us zipper up tighter. Another log was thrown
on the heap in the center of the flames. Soon
the chill was pulled from our bodies and one by
one my hunters slid their lawn chairs further
from the flames. In the calmness of the late evening
the smoke coiled upwards from the crackling red
embers then slowly drifted toward the cookhouse
with the slight breeze.
The conversation had centered on wolves. "Ya'll
ever get lucky enough to git any back wolves?"
one of the new clients asked.
"What about that wolf I got last year", my friend
from Oregon mentioned with a smile. "Tell these
guys about him." As an eight-year return client
I knew he wasn't the bragging type and I looked
at him in surprise. "You remember? The one I got
while you were having a crap in the bush". A chuckle
rose from the cranberry farmer's throat then he
continued, "Well, these new guys want to know
if you ever get lucky enough to get any black
wolves. I would say this one was lucky. "Well,
wasn't it"? He added with a laugh. "It was black
and as big as any." Seemingly satisfied that he
had accomplished his task of embarrassing me he
leaned back in his chair waiting his story....
the Way I Always Imagined'
you ever sat around the fire and not had smoke
in your eyes?" The shadowy face across the
campfire asked, with a hint of humor in his voice.
I blinked, trying to clear away the tears that
blurred my vision. A swirl of smoke circled the
campfire, then again drifted in my direction.
Once again I moved to the other side, trying to
avoid the eye-burning residue of scorched wood.This
time throw on some dry wood so the fire will burn
instead of smoke, and then I'll tell you how he
got his bear.
The calm night air was warm, but we kept the fire
burning high anyway. Embers were glowing bright
red as the flames fought their way upward, struggling
to spread their light into the darkened night.
We had no need of a lantern. The reddish glow
illuminated the faces of the strangers near the
fire. Each hunter had brought out his favorite
bottle of bush juice, so the camp table was well
stocked with refreshments. It rested in the shadows
behind someone, I didn't know who. I was still
putting names to the faces of our new hunters.
I popped the
top off a beer and found a chair on the upwind
side. I could see the hesitation in their eyes
as these new hunters questioned bear hunting techniques.
Many hunters unfamiliar with the habits of bear
believe that baiting is the only recourse for
a successful hunt. When asked, it took me only
a moment to think of a story that would describe
a past hunter's success.
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dare you to try it, " a wiry gentleman piped
up, his eyes sparkling from the glow of the campfire
as he challenged his comrade to do better than
he did. A bearded man in his early thirties gave
a roar of laughter, then sucked up a deep breath
of the warm night air. He placed my birch bark
horn to his mouth and discharged a blast of air
into it. The frightening sound that echoed out
the other end of that vibrating funnel was more
like the groan of a constipated hunter than the
longing call of a seductive cow moose.
His three companions
who circled the red glowing light of the campfire
bent over the front of their chairs and rocked
with laughter at the embarrassing sounds of their
friend' s humorous act. i grinned at their stories
and the carefree entertainment as i kicked a block
of firewood into the flames, trying to stir up
more light to see the faces of my new clients.
In a burst of crackles, red sparks streaked skyward
from the flames, dancing into the darkness to
join the endless laughter.
As the sparkles
burst higher, so did the conversation of the excited
hunters. Firelight flickered in harmony, highlighting
each man's tale. From one hunter to another the
stories unfolded, each a little more challenging,
until a competition of sorts developed. Now it
was my turn, and reluctantly I had to match an
unbelievable event with theirs. "C'mon, it's
your turn," the whiskered man with the horn
burst out. "Tell us a tale that we won't