"A bad night on the mountain"
"Something was wrong"
The hair on my neck was standing on end, the moment when you know something bad is about to take place....I slowly opened my eyes to the darkness. Being in a tent, 15 miles back in the wilderness, no fire, no light, nothing....THAT kind of darkness. I felt his breath and heard his sniffing at the same time, and his smell was something I couldn't explain....It smelled like death. The breeze I felt was from the gaping hole the brown bear had ripped in the tent, and now I was at his mercy. I prayed to God quickly and silently, as he pushed me around with his massive claws, like he was playing with a ball.
I had slowly balled up in the fetal position as I was taught, hoping he wouldn't tear my neck or head off. The pain coursed through my body as his front molars sank into my right shoulder. My scream just enraged him and he flung me from side to side, and sliced my left arm with the 5 inch claws only brown bears are known for. My life was coming to an end, and real soon I hoped. My Bowie knife was still in the scabbard on my belt loop. I reached down with my right hand, as I was playing dead, pulled it from it's sheath, and stuck it deep into his right eye! He dropped me like a hot potato, and he seemed to be out of sorts, I was wrong!
He quickly regrouped and swiped at me again, barely missing my face...I laid on my back, kicking with everything I had, pushing off of him and rolling backwards. He was on top of me as quickly as before, and bit down hard on the back of my skull. I could feel my scalp being slowly ripped off, inch by inch. What hair I had left was no more, and blood covered my face, filling my eyes and momentarily blinding me. I went in and out of consciousness, praying it would end soon. He tore my left arm at the bicep, my muscle pulling off the bone like paper ripping. My screams filled the dark wilderness.....surely someone would hear me!! I awoke shortly after to him dragging me up a hill, and covering me with dirt. I would be his dinner at a later time, as he was hiding me from the other carnivores in the area, namely wolves and other bears. I had lost a lot of blood, near death I supposed when I heard someone screaming at him, "GET OFF OF HIM YOU SON OF A BITCH!!" Two shots rang out, and I faintly watched as the bear bolted upright, turning toward my buddy Sam, and charging him. Sam leveled his rifle quickly, and fired one more killing shot right between his eyes! The momentum of his charge brought the monster to Sam's feet, but he was running dead. Sam put one more in him to make sure he would never kill again.
Once the dust settled, Sam quickly uncovered me, and gasped when he saw what the bear had done to me. My left arm was shredded, my muscle hanging by a thread. My scalp was gone, nothing but a bloody skull showing. My clothes were torn, and covered in my blood..."Hey Jack!, Jack! Stay with me, stay with me, I'll get you back to the ranch, just hang in there Jack!!" I was in shock now, so he bandaged me up quickly with his shirt and stopped the bleeding as well as he could, praying I had enough blood left in me to hold on. He gingerly threw me onto his horse, as I screamed with pain, and held on to me as he made his way down the mountainside to the valley, where his horse could move quicker. He talked to me the whole way back, as I faded in and out of consciousness again. Back at the ranch, they rushed me in and put me on the bed, stripping me of my torn, bloody clothes. They called a nearby friend who was a nurse, and she cleaned my wounds, and professionally bandaged them again while we waited for the helicopter from the hospital 100 miles away..........Might as well have been a 1000!
Miraculously, a week later, I started the many surgeries and skin graphs to start the healing process. It was going to be a long road ahead. Sam visited one early morning, and sat next to my bed. I could tell he was upset seeing his good buddy in such a mess. "Sam, I owe you my life brother, if you hadn't shown up when you did, we wouldn't be having this talk, so thank you." He looked at me, and just nodded....he was too choked up to speak, and just squeezed my good hand. Finally, he asked me why I was out there alone, with NO horse, or rifle....I had to admit I had done something stupid and I hadn't tied my horse "Logan" off on a tree when I had to relieve myself that day. Something spooked him, and that was the last I saw of him, and my rifle. Luckily, I had my pack on with my tent, sleeping bag, and my knife. "If it wasn't for that knife, I don't know what I would've done", I said matter of factly. "Don't worry Jack, you'll be back out there in no time at all, it's in your blood brother!" I jokingly asked him how I looked since there were no mirrors in the room. He just smiled, and chuckling, he whispered....."Well, I'd say a 6, or a 7, thanks to the bear's work. We both laughed, but I was just thankful I was still here to fight another day!! "Cowboy Up!"