His Last Bear Hunt

This is another of Muleman’s (Wally Hendricks) stories (a gifted storyteller on Clinton Anderson’s No Worries Club forum).  It is pretty much a direct translation from Muleman’s prose into my poetry.

His Last Bear Hunt

Now Brett was a man of great stature and size,
with fire hydrant legs and no neck.
He’d just as soon deck a guy right ‘tween the eyes
than to calmly discuss who’s on deck.
He weighed mor’n two hundred fifty pounds,
though he weren’t even five feet tall.
Strong as a yearling bull standing his ground,
he may have been short, but not small.

Well, Brett got this idea to go kill a bear,
but he needed a guide for the quest.
My friend talked me into this grizzly affair,
said for bear trackin’ I was the best.
For weeks before the memorable day,
we buttered him up real good.
Extolling the virtues of hounds chasing prey,
while riding horseback through the woods.

Why, he’d never get tired keeping up with the chase
with my expertise as a guide,
Like sitting at home, just watching the race.
A day he’d look back on with pride.
The big day came – we met just as planned,
Brett loaded his gear and got in.
We drove up the canyon – this bear was out-manned.
Brett wore a cheese-eatin’ grin.

It took us awhile just to find a big stump
so Brett could climb on his steed,
The big guy got on, sat down with a thump,
I was set, the hound dogs were freed.
In the pre-dawn light we rode up the trail,
in a half-hour or so, Brett relaxed.
About that time, the dogs started to wail.
Brett’s nerves were just about maxed.

Poor Brett is hanging on tight with both hands,
his fingers clinched in a knot,
From the look in his eyes, my death’s in his plans,
and we were just in a trot!
His lips were clamped so tightly that I
could not understand what he said.
If we kept a brisk pace, I knew by and by,
we’d catch those hounds up ahead.

So I tried to ignore Brett’s mumbling through his teeth,
but tuned in to a regular beat,
and pitied the horse who was down underneath
the thwack, thwack, thwack of his seat.
It didn’t take long ‘fore the hounds jumped the bear,
the chase was really on now.
Sounds of trees crackin’, screaming hounds, filled the air.
Brett’s heart’s in his throat, I allow.

I prayed that this race would end real soon,
as we approached rough terrain.
The trees up ahead were scattered and strewn
from a microburst during spring rains.
The dogs crossed the ridge, in the jungle they went,
hot on that bear’s furry tail.
A horse can’t go in there, you know what that meant:
we’d be on foot – I went pale.

Once up at the top, I could hardly hear the hounds,
meaning that they’re in a hole.
We’ll cross this jungle, judging by the sounds
halfway up the other side is our goal.
We finally reached the dogs, sure enough in a hole,
an opening like a 4-slice toaster.
A bear and three hounds that are out of control,
Brett’s sidearm is out of its holster.

The dogs are in it to kill or be killed.
To die, they don’t really care.
It takes lots of guts and a good bit of skill
to separate three hounds from a bear!
I told Brett to hang on tight to my feet;
when I kicked, just pull me out.
But be ready in case the bear makes his retreat
looking for his escape route.

On my belly I go, outstretched, diver style;
Headfirst in the hole I went
where bruin is growlin’ ‘n’thrashin’ all the while
three dogs are fightin’ hell-bent.
My mouth’s full of dirt and hair, who knows what all,
I’m reaching to grab me a hound,
I finally find a leg, give my kickin’ signal
then Brett jerks me out’a the ground!

Good grief, that man’s strong! My shirt’s round my neck!
Ten inches of hide he scraped off!
My dog and me’s fifteen yards down in a wreck,
Brett looks like a member of S.W.A.T.
Stainless 44 magnum straight at the hole,
his eyes are as big as a dish.
I’d say this excitement is taking its toll,
his knuckles were white as dead fish.

I asked Brett don’t pull so hard next time;
told him he’s doin’ great.
Headed back down in the dirt, hair, and grime
to face whatever’s my fate.
I can’t see a thing while I’m reaching around.
Grabbed a leg and held on real tight.
But long coarse hair is not on my hounds,
I was pulling the bear! Not too bright!

I let go of the bear and found a dog’s leg
and gave Ole’ Brett a good kick.
Dang it boy, hurry up! This here powder keg
is fixin’ to blow up real quick!
I kicked harder this time to hurry Brett up,
but he lost his grip I’m afraid.
So he grabbed my jeans, and I’ve got my pup,
then he yanked them pants off my legs!

Right about now my dog bites bruin square,
hangin’ on for all he is worth.
Brett’s pullin’ on me, the dog, and the bear,
extracting us all from the earth!
Seemed like an eternity in all of that grief,
when something gave, we popped out.
I still had the dog, and to our relief,
mister bear we were without.

As I tied up the dog, and pulled my pants on,
the Lord must’a had enough fun.
The last dog figured it was just one on one,
he came out on a dead run.
All we needed to do now was sit back and wait,
the bear would soon come out.
Brett would have his trophy, and all would be great.
He’d have braggin’ rights, no doubt!

But to my surprise, Brett rose to his feet,
he turned and left down the hill.
Without a word Brett made his retreat.
The canyon was quiet and still.
Took me hours to wrangle three dogs through that mess,
the jungle made by the gale.
When I got to the horses, just as I’d guessed,
no Brett, just tracks on the trail.

I arrived at the truck, Brett was there by himself,
I heard no more puffing or grunting.
He said his gun was going back on the shelf,
he was all done with bear hunting.
I never saw him again, but our mutual friend
said that it would be best
to not bring it up if I bump into him.
In other words, just let it rest.