OLD CHARLIE

During an elk and deer hunt a few years ago, near Bear, Idaho, I had a very interesting encounter with an animal. My hunting companion, Joetta, and I were slowly hiking along the top of a descending ridge line. She insisted on taking the lead in case we saw something. We would stop & listen periodically, and then proceed slowly. We both heard some movement ahead of us and slightly down hill to our right. I knew the area fairly well and wanted to cut cross-country, take a hard right, and go straight down the hill to a fire-break road which I knew paralleled us at this time. This would allow me to parallel Joetta, who wanted to stay on the trail.

The brush was thick, and the going was slow. After making some slow & noisy progress, I would stop and hear a noisy animal crashing brush to my left, paralleling Joetta. I would listen until he was quiet and then proceed again. Each time I stopped, I could hear him. I tried to vier to the left to stay fairly close the the animal, but still descend quickly. I was relieved when I got to the fire-break road, and somewhat exhausted due to the difficulty in traversing the thick undergrowth.

As I continued down the road to my left, It was quiet. I was now far enough from the animal that I could no longer hear him. I wondered whether Joetta could hear him, or was also pursuing the sound. As I arrived at a small trickle of a creek which ran under the road, I stopped to relax and wait for Joetta. After about 5 minutes of beautiful quiet as I stood in the shadows of tall Ponderosa Pines, I heard some brush cracking to my left, up the creek. I had some glare in my eyes from light breaking in between the pines and couldn't focus immediately.

Then I saw movement and immediately focused on a rather large black bear, running down the creek bed, straight at me. I thought I was being charged by an angry mother with cubs. In fear, and from being startled, I took off my safety "CLICK" and raised my rifle. He heard the click and "Slammed on the Breaks" about 15 yards away. My heart was racing. His eyes opened fearfully wide at me, in total surprise. That's when I realized he hadn't seen me yet, and in fact, was not charging me. My heart sank with relief....

He did a double take, looking to his left, then his right, checking for the best escape route. He bolted to his left running about 20 yards to a large Ponderosa pine and stopped. He peaked his nose around the far side of the tree, while simultaneously pulling in his rump, so not to expose it to gun fire. I thought this was a fluke or coincidence. He again did the double take, then bolted to the next tree about the same distance again, and repeated the previous maneuver with exact precision. I chuckled and let him leave relieved that I wasn't on his menu plans.

Then suddenly the same noise exactly as before up the creek. I spun around quickly to find Joetta stumbling down the creek, out of breath and very excited, wet and dirty from tromping in the creek. I grinned at her. Suspecting the grin, she asked with excitement, "Did you see an elk?!" I continued to grin and shake my head in the negative. She asked, "A deer?". Again I shook my head No. Her Eyes immediately opened widely and she exclaimed, "A Bear?!" I said, "Yes" still grinning, "You chased him down the hill, practically into my lap".

We later related this story to a local Game warden who informed us that it was probably "Old Charlie" who is always getting into peoples trash and gets shot in the butt regularly. The rest of the hunt Joetta insisted I take the lead, and she stayed very close behind me the rest of the hunt. Charlie & I were the only ones who knew he was more scared than I was. We didn't get an elk, but it was still a memorable trip. After relaxing and musing at this event, it reminded me of so many Yogi Bear, or Bugs Bunny/Daffy era cartoons where some critter was getting busted in the rump with buck-shot. That's what Old Charlie looked like.

Thanks to the Voice Of Idaho

Ham Radio Club - W7LPN

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