Monday, July 10, 2006

Wilbur and the Bear

Hello, Wilbur Hucks here on this whatchamadiddly Bailey started. She's typing this for me 'cause I can't type or spell a lick. If you want to know something about me, I'm 77. Let's just get that out of the way right now, and don't say you weren't curious. Been married for as long as I remember and survived it. So far. Also survived a war and more recently, heart surgery. Got the scar to prove it--the surgery, I mean--and it's a mighty fine one. More on that another day.

Might as well say something right up front. As you know, Bailey's reason for starting this thing is to make visitors to Kanner Lake feel welcome. That's fine I guess, but don't expect me to be all-out friendly to everybody. Figure you better know what you're stepping into if you're gonna drive all this way to see the town. For every saint like Bailey you've got one of me. Come if you like. Take us as we are. We were here first. [Bailey: Don't believe half of Wilbur's bluster, he's a sweetheart underneath it all.]

Bailey wants me to tell you about the goings-on hereabouts, like the hunting, fishing and hiking. As the best fly fisher in Idaho, I expect she's got the right man for the job. We got fish in Kanner Lake so big you can ride 'em like a horse. For hunters, we got elk, white-tail and mule deer thicker than fleas on a dog's back. We also got ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and bear.

Took me on a bear once. Bare-handed. Well, more like footed. But the foot wasn't bare.

Since we were youngsters, old Wally Keller had been telling me he wanted to sneak up on a black bear and give him a boot in the pa-toot. Don't ask me where he got such a fool notion in his head. I told him from the start he was a downright idgit, but he kept on. Then he started calling me chicken 'cause I didn
't want nothing to do with it.

Nobody calls me chicken. Even at the age of eight. I told Wally if he and I ever got the chance, I'd be the one to give it to the bear.

Fifty-some years went by. Wally and I grew up. Wally and me went off to war and came back. (Thank the Lord.) Wally got married; I got married. We both had kids. Had us some good times with our families and some bad. In all the ruckus of life in general, we forgot about that childhood promise. Then one day when Wally and I were hiking, lo and behold out of the blue we came up on a big black bear napping in the sun with his head resting on his paws.

Wally pointed at the huge critter and then aimed his finger at me. I was about to shake my head no when Wally mouthed "You're chicken." Well, he's right about that. But then I got to thinking, doggone, we'd waited over half a lifetime for that moment, and could this war veteran just walk away? Right then and there my decision was made.

I snuck up on that bear so quiet it would have made Daniel Boone proud. Got my feet set for running, hands up and fingers spread for balance. Holding my breath. Up came one foot while I made good and sure I was stable on the other. Then I let my boot fly.

Tell you what. That bear let out a howl the likes you never heard and took off like he'd been shot out of a cannon. Likely didn't stop until he crossed the state line. Wally and I fell on the ground laughing until we near split our guts.

I came back from that hike with the proof I'm no chicken, though I suppose you could call me a durn fool. But I had me a good story to tell. Half the people don't believe it, even with Wally as my witness. Too bad, I tell the story anyway. Tell it to you in person, too, when you visit Kanner Lake. Come see us at Java Joint. Make Bailey happy.

Just stay off the stool near the counter
. It's mine.

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 6:00 AM
I believe you about the bear. There’s an old retired logger in Seabeck, WA that did the same thing.

I’ve tangled with a bear myself, but then I married her so it’s my own fault.
Posted by Anonymous Curm : 10:21 PM
Hey there. Cool story. I know someone who kicked a bear once. He also stood up to one in his own back yard.
Posted by Blogger Rulan : 10:38 PM
Looks like the tales get pretty tall up in Kanner Lake. Wilbur, when I visit, I'll be sure to let you show me the scar and the place you kicked the bear
Posted by Blogger Cara Putman : 6:09 AM
You really do have to be there in person when Wilbur is telling one of his stories, otherwise you miss out on all the essential gesticulations and reenactments.

As for showing that scar, I expect him to come in someday with a shirt that has a window in the front, framed in blinking arrows, as a way to show off his scar. Except that I think he likes the theatrics and reactions when he pulls his shirt up…

Posted by Blogger S-man : 7:01 AM
Not sure if I believe this one or not. Guess Wilbur will have to convince me in person one day. But it's a good story, I'll give you that.
Posted by Anonymous r.j. hager : 7:41 AM
Hi, S-Man! It's Carly! When are you getting to post?
Posted by Anonymous Carly Suggs : 7:42 AM
For heaven's sake, I do not believe this cockamamie story for one minute. First of all, a bear would turn around and maul any poor kicking fool to death. Second, I don't believe you could sneak up on one in the first place.

Wilbur, didn't your mother ever teach you not to tell tales?
Posted by Anonymous elizabeth monty : 7:44 AM
Anybody with a name like Elizabeth sounds a bit uppity, know what I mean? Wilbur, I'm with you, man.
Posted by Anonymous fred wiley : 7:58 AM
We have our own share of Wilburs in Kansas ... Scarecrow, TinMan and Cowardly Lion. Suspect Wilbur could use a trip to Oz to see the Wizard ... I'll send Dorothy to Kanner Lake to show him the way :)
Posted by Blogger Kansas Bob : 7:59 AM
Hi Carly, it's S-man

I'll have to double check with Bailey, but I'm pretty sure tomorrow is my day.

I just hope I can work it in around figuring out the rules of Iralok.

Posted by Anonymous SmanStu : 9:12 AM
Yes, S-Man is up tomorrow. Hang in there, Carly.
Posted by Blogger ~ Bailey Truitt : 9:25 AM
I received an email this morning by someone wondering if such a thing were possible.

I’m retired now, but for more than thirty years, I’ve worked in the National Forest just north of Kanner Lake. For the record, I’ve heard of Mr. Hucks but we’ve never met.

In all my years as a ranger, I’ve never encountered a single human fatality by a black bear. But, there have been a few maulings, of which I myself am a survivor.

I’ve had so many face to face run-ins with black bears that I’ve lost count. Usually they scare off easily if one makes enough noise. But my mauling accounts for the unpredictability of any wild animal.

Twelve years ago, a black bear charged at me from the brush. He had a grip on my right calve and started to drag me away. I clubbed him a few times with an old tree root and he turned me loose and ran off.

I have no reason to doubt the credibility of Mr. Hucks, but I would caution anyone who encounters a black bear in the forest to remain quiet and back away slowly.

Be sure to report any such encounters at the ranger station when you exit the National Park or Forest.
Posted by Anonymous Ranger Bob : 9:44 AM
LOL! Loved this! Especially the stool part. Don't worry, Wilbur. I won't take your stool, but I might want to see that scar of yours...
Posted by Blogger Dineen A. Miller : 12:22 PM
I saw a bear up close once, outside our timeshare cabin. But that's neither here nor there, because I'm still stuck on the part about the fish that are big enough to ride like a horse...
Posted by Blogger Patricia W. : 6:50 PM
I told ya' Wilbur...ya' needed to put a disclaimer on the top of that there posty thingy, "Do not try this at home!"

If the younguns' get a hankerin' for more fun than tippin' cows... there's gonna' be a lot of irate mommas lookin' to recreate the moment on your pa-toot!

Auh, geez Louise, Dineen...don't encourage the old coot. We kin' barely get him to keep the shirt down now, when we're eatin' at Bailey's.

I think all that exposure is breakin' a health law or sump'um. I know it messes with my digestion a mite!
Posted by Anonymous darla bloom : 7:31 PM
Wally's a good friend of mine. And he swears this one's true. I figure I'll believe it, but if I hear otherwise on the other side of the pearly gates, Wilbur's gonna have some real explaining to do.
Posted by Anonymous burt laroy : 8:13 PM
I've been fascinated by bears since I was young, so I loved this story. I bet that bear almost had a heart attack, Wilbur. LOL
Posted by Blogger Becca : 7:00 AM
Fish so big you can ride 'em like a horse? I'll stay on land, thank you very much. But that stool by the counter now sounds strangely appealing. Hope you're an early riser, 'cause I am! Wink.
Posted by Blogger Gina Holmes : 7:29 AM
Wilbur's a funny old guy. I like him. The bear thing might be true, but before you go believing the fish-so-big-you-can-ride-'em thing, let me tell you a little about Wilbur. He'll also tell anyone who'll listen that he's seen Jackalopes. And you know those postcards with an Idaho potato being towed by a semi-truck? He swears he took the picture.
Posted by Blogger Scott Allen : 7:59 AM
I ain't much on bears myself and I think Wilbur's a few plates short of a buffet, but the man knows what he's talking about when it comes to fishin'.
Posted by Blogger Jake Tremaine : 8:41 AM
LOL! Love your stories, Wilbur.
Posted by Blogger Pammer : 8:42 PM
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