Black Bear Kill that Netted a Perfect Pelt
Scottie Kills a Bear
"Born on the mountain top in Tennessee, Greenest state in the land of the free ; Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree; kilt a bear when he was only three, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier." So goes the song I heard as a boy and watched the weekly episodes on the old black and white that was in our living room about the legendary Davy Crockett who died while fighting Santa Anna and the Mexican Army at the Alamo. His coon skin hat and the line in the song about the bear, always interested me. The stories and the man, a real American frontiersman hero was bigger than life which I suppose is the reason for my infatuation.
Then there is the bluegrass song "Old Slew-foot" about a bear big around the middle and broad across the rump, again a wonderful song and tale about one infamous bear.As a youngster my mama read me the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I can remember those stories and others so well and have told them to my sons and my grandsons. Bears are fascinating animals and have always captured the hearts of children. For many of our forefathers, the black bear provided meat and the pelts could be tanned and sold. Although there are many bear here in the Blue Ridge and in Western North Carolina, I have never hunted them but some of my friends are avid bear hunters.
Bear hunting has gone high tech with electronic tracking devices placed on collars of the dogs that will strike a hot trail and hunters can follow the route a bear will take to escape the dogs in pursuit. The hunters can move from ridge to ridge and intercept a bear for the kill. Several years ago when my oldest son was building his house a bear ran through his yard with the dogs close behind. The hunters were on the ridge top and soon shots were heard and another bear had met the business end of a high powered rifle. Most hunters I know share the meat and a good bear roast sure is tasty.
While serving in the USAF my last duty assignment was at a remote isolated radar unit near Galena, Alaska. Wild life was in abundance and during my tour we often ate moose that were killed by the hunters on our radar unit. King Salmon was down the Yukon River and during the warm months before the first snow, the guys who enjoyed fishing would go down and catch Salmon that had made the treacherous journey back to the spawning grounds. The Salmon that were caught were frozen and we ate them at monthly commander calls at the NCO Club along with all the fixings.
We had a trash dump about a mile from our station. Wild animals would come to eat the garbage from our mess hall and included black bear among other animals. One of our cooks, Scotty Spratlain who was a Georgia boy was hunting down at the dump one afternoon and came upon a black bear enjoying a meal at the dump site. Scottie wore glasses that were thick and was always having to shove them back up his nose. He shot the black bear and soon was back to get a front end loader from the Motor Pool to bring in his kill.
We had a guy from Maine who was a senior NCO who was very adept at skinning and butchering the moose killed by those in our outfit. He agreed to skin Scotty's bear. Scotty wanted to salvage the pelt and have a rug made. It would be sent to Anchorage for processing. Sgt Albers skinned the bear and asked Scotty,"Where did you shoot this bear I can't find any place where a bullet has entered." Scotty said,"I shot him from behind one time."
After doing an autopsy Sgt Albers discovered Scotties shot had been a direct hit in the bears rectum. Ouch! The bullet traversed the spine killing the bear instantly. Turns out old Scotty had a perfect pelt with no bullet holes. My tour in Alaska left me with many memories of a wilderness untamed and the memories of the men I served that long year in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Every once in a while I still have a crave for some moose tenderloin or some fried snowshoe hare. I spent only one year in the frozen north but have had a life time of memories.