The Great Hunt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two kids go hunting.

Submitted: March 23, 2014

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Submitted: March 23, 2014

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At last dawn came, slowly transforming the darkness around me into the familiar landscape of my backyard. Soon, the sun was peeking over the eastern hills, glowing bright yellow through the morning fog hanging low in the valley. As the tin roofs of the nearby barns reflected brightly in the early light, I knew it was going to be a great day.

“Come on, Shorty,” I said, as I punched the large lump lying beside me. “The sun’s up and it’s time to get going.”

From beneath the tangled blankets, there came a muffled response indicating that he had heard me, but didn’t think much of my eagerness to leave the warmth he had found.

Shorty and I had spent the night in my backyard, camping out as we had done many times before. For us that meant stretching a sheet of plywood over the tops of two sawhorses, and curling up on a pile of blankets underneath. It wasn’t much in today’s world of fancy tents and expensive sleeping bags, but to us twelve-year-olds it seemed just fine.

“Come on, Shorty,” I yelled, as I nudged him again. “The day’s half gone and we ain’t even got started.”

Finally, Shorty’s head appeared, and rising slowly to his feet, he stretched and asked, “What’s for breakfast?”

Now, Shorty was an unusual boy. First of all, his name wasn’t really Shorty. It was Charles, and that’s what most everybody called him. To his face, that is. Behind his back, he was known as Fatty, Piggy, and other equally sad names. For the truth was, Shorty had a weight problem. A large weight problem. I once made the mistake, just after I had met Shorty, of remarking in the presence of my mother that he was one of the fattest kid I’d ever seen. After giving me a quick swat between the ears, my mother replied that Shorty wasn’t fat, he was just plump. Well, that was fine with me. If saying someone was plump instead of fat was more polite, then I reckoned I could go along with that. Only thing was, Shorty didn’t think much of that word either.

“What do you mean, I’m plump?!” cried Shorty. “I’m not fat and I’m not plump! I’m just short for my weight, and you know as well as I do that I can’t do anything about my height!”

Well, from that day forward, Charles was called Shorty, and nobody ever said anything about his weight again. Everybody knew it wasn’t fair to make fun of a person when couldn’t anybody control how tall they were. Soon, Shorty and I were the best of friends.

Thus, it happened that on this fine fall morning, Shorty and I were preparing for the biggest day of our short twelve years. For today was the day we went on the hunt. Not just any old hunt, mind you. Today we were going to get us a bear.

“Are you taking Blue?” Shorty asked.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” I replied. “Ain’t no way I’d go after bear without the greatest bear dog in the world!”

Shorty knew I wasn’t exaggerating. For Blue was indeed a special dog. Not that you could tell just from looking at him. To the casual observer, Blue looked like any ordinary mutt, like all the rest that lived in the valley. But Blue was special! He didn’t have a pedigree, or fancy registration, like some of those expensive city dogs. But he had something didn’t any of them have -- versatility! For Blue could be whatever you wanted him to be. If you needed a good hound dog to go after rabbits, Blue was the best. When you were interested in birds, he could point with the best of them. And if you were hunting bear like we were today, couldn’t anybody do as good a job as my dog Blue. Yep, it would cost a heap of money to buy all them other dogs each time we changed hunting seasons. All we ever needed was Blue.

Before long, the three of us were walking through the woods toward the nearby hills. All around, the birds were brightly singing, the sunlight filtering through the trees overhead, and even Blue seemed to feel the excitement in the air.

“Ooowee!” I hollered. “This is going to be a Golden Graham day!”

“Yep,” Shorty cheerfully replied. “It is an awful pretty day. Did you tell your ma where we was going?”

“Well,” I said slowly, ”I didn’t figure it would be too good an idea to have her thinking she needed to keep an eye on us, so I just told her we was going looking for rabbits and such.”

“That was smart,” Shorty agreed. “That way she won’t get worried if we don’t get home before dark. Now, tell me again how we’re going to catch us a bear.”

At first, when Shorty and I had talked about going after a bear, neither one of us could figure out a way to catch one. The only gun we had was an old .22 rifle of mine, and we decided it might just make the bear mad if we shot him with that. We thought about digging a big hole for him to fall into, like on those Tarzan movies where they capture lions and tigers. But after realizing how much work would be involved in digging a hole big enough for a bear, we abandoned that idea. We had just about given up, when I had the answer. We would rope him.

“First,” I said in answer to Shorty’s question, “we find us a big tree. Then while Blue goes out and runs a bear back towards us, we climb that tree and sit waiting. Just as soon as that old bear comes along below us, we drop a loop of this here rope around his neck and tie the other end to the tree. And there, just as pretty as you please, will be our bear. I figure we can go get Pa to come shoot him for us, but he’ll be so proud of the way we caught him all by ourselves.”

“I got to hand it to you,” Shorty said. “That’s the best dog gone plan I ever hard of for catching a bear. Just one thing...do you think it will work?”

“Why, didn’t you see me practicing with Blue? I caught him a whole bunch of times and the bear will be even easier.”

“How come?” Shorty asked.

“Cause he won’t think it’s a game like Blue did!”

Well, that was enough to convince Shorty of the merit of my plan. By  this time we were deep into the woods, and I had begun to look for a tree to climb. It was then that Shorty voiced the question that had been in the back of his mind.

“What do we do if a bear surprises us before we can get up a tree? Do you think we can outrun it?”

“Well, Shorty,” I answered, “I figure I ain’t got to outrun the bear. All I got to do is outrun you!”

All of a sudden, Blue let out a bellow and took off running.

“Aooooow!”

Blue was on the trail.

Looking around, I spied what looked like a good tree to wait in, and motioned to Shorty to toss me the rope when I had climbed up. In no time at all, Shorty and I were sitting on a large limb overlooking the trail below. In my hands, I held one end of the rope that had been tied into a generous loop. There we sat, listening to sounds of Blue as he chased a bear back to where we waited.

“Aooooow!”

The sounds were getting closer. I knew it wouldn’t be long now. Off in the distance I could hear limbs snapping, and a sound like a locomotive climbing a steep hill. As the noise grew louder and louder, the bear suddenly exploded from the woods nearby, running for his life straight at the tree we were hiding in. And there, right on his heels, was my dog Blue!

“Aooooow!”

What I had not figured on was the speed with which a frightened bear can move. The rope was no sooner falling from my hands than the bear had sped underneath our limb and continued right on up the side of the tree...our tree! By the time the rope hit the ground, the bear had finished his climb and was sitting there on the branch beside us. His attention was focused on the jumping figure of Blue down below, who was desperately trying to reach the bear he had treed. I realized now that when I had trained Blue to chase the bear back to us, I had not made it clear that it wasn’t necessary to have the bear actually climb the tree we were in. But, like I said earlier, Blue weren’t no ordinary dog!

There we sat. Out of respect for the bear, Shorty and I had edged way out to the end of the limb, while the bear continued looking down at Blue. We might have stayed this way for hours if it weren’t for what happened next. For apparently the bear, in his agitated state, had decided that Shorty and I had been treed earlier by this same mad dog below, and were in the same situation that he was in. Seeing that we had moved to the end of the limb. he decided it must be safer out there where we were, and began to move out along the branch. Under normal circumstances that would have been fine, and heaven knows I wouldn’t have minded the bear joining us. But, unfortunately, once the bear had worked his way out to our end of the limb, the weight was too much. With a loud crack, the limb game way, hurling the three of us the to ground below.

What took place next will forever live in my memory. I hit the ground first, and was up and running before my body had time to complain about the fall. Next to hit was the bear, who would have made a quick escape, if Shorty had not come right behind and landed on the animal’s back. As soon as the bear felt Shorty hit, he took off running right behind me.

As I looked over my shoulder, I could scarcely believe my eyes! There came the bear with Shorty riding him like a wild horse. And what of my dog, Blue? Well, he thought this was a great game, and was still chasing the bear, yelping and nipping whenever he got close.

“Aooooow!”

On we ran. Somehow, this was not turning out the way I had planned it. For now I was being chased by the bear. I have no doubt that if it had not been for the extreme weight of Shorty on his back, the bear would surely have caught me. As it was, I just managed to stay ahead, all the time looking for  a way out of my predicament. I knew right away I couldn’t bring the bear home to Ma; she would just think we were working on an act for the rodeo and tell us to stay out of the house.

All at once, I had the answer. There, straight ahead, was a bridge under which flowed a small but deep creek. As I neared the bridge, I veered to the right and plunged into the water below. There I held my breath until I could hold it no longer, coming up at last gasping for air. Quickly looking around, I could see my plan had worked. There was no sign of the bear. In the distance I could hear Blue still hot on his trail.

“Aooooow!”

I didn’t see Shorty again until the next day. Blue had finally returned and I was trying to think of how tell Shorty’s folks that a bear had gotten him. On the way to his house, I came around a bend in the road, and there was Shorty walking towards me.

“Shorty!” I cried. ” I thought you were dead!”

“Are you kidding?” he said, smiling. “Why, I had the time of my life. I rode that old bear till he gave out, and then jumped off and came on home. You shouldn’t have gone swimming so early; if you had waited just a little while longer, I’d have jumped in there with you. But tell me something; how did you know what was going to happen?”

“What do you mean, Shorty?”

“Well, you must have know I was going to ride that bear. Don’t you remember telling me that if a bear chased us, all you had to do was outrun me? I’ve got to admit, you sure now a lot about trapping bears!”

“Thanks, Shorty. But wait till you hear what we’re going after next.”

“What’s that?”

“You know that gator that lives out yonder in the swamp? Well, I’ve got this plan...”

 


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