Raymond and I had talked about our very first alone over night fishing trip for months before school was out for the summer. It was my sixth year and Raymond two years older and I set out the weekend after our last day of school. Those were the days when there was no camp trailers or RV’s with modern conveniences. Our total equipment was two fish poles, a few hooks, two blankets, a fry pan, some matches, a couple cans of sardines and my grandmother’s ax.
We set up camp on a sandbar on Skull Creek, a half mile from the house. There was shade, the sand was soft and the water deep. A perfect place to camp. It didn’t take long to gather firewood, catch a few grasshoppers for bait and get our lines in the water, but the fish weren’t biting. After the longest fifteen minutes I can remember with no bites, we decided to look for fish, just to be sure they were there, you understand. Some might think we were just swimming and playing in the water, but this was scientific research in it’s purest form. Everyone knows that you can’t catch fish where there are no fish!
The day wore on and soon the shadows grew long and darkness was upon us. We lit the fire and each ate a can of sardines. A fish camp counsel decided that we’d go to bed early and be on the bank waiting when the fish got up for breakfast.
I was rolled up in my blanket and it seemed that I was barely asleep when a stick bounced off my head. Looking up about to explain to Raymond the dangers of messing with me while I was sleeping, I see him pointing a finger into the darkness. In the dying light of the campfire I see eyes ! Horrible huge unblinking eyes! Hungry eyes that surrounded us! Scooting over to Raymond for a war counsel, it was decided that a pack of hungry grizzly bears ha us trapped on the sandbar.
Those bears thought that they had an easy meal of two young boys. Little did they realize that they had encountered a couple of fierce warriors of the Creek Nation. Oh. We would die. There was no doubt, but we would sell our lives dearly!
At a given signal, we jumped to our feet. Raymond with the ax and me with a stick of firewood. Back to back we stood waiting for the charge, but the grizz was coward! After a few moments, Raymond threw the ax and charged the closest bear. His Creek war cry echoed off the hills. Proud I was of him. More my brother in bravery than my cousin. Could I do any less? My war cry on my lips I charged the bear in front of me. Oh coward bear! To this day I hold you in contempt for turning tail and running. The sound of your retreat as you crashed through the brush marked your shame !
As I was facing the direction of the house, should I stay and die trying to avenge my brother’s death or should I go warn everyone and gather others to track the marauding bears and exact revenge from them all? I chose to warn. My feet barely touched the ground as I flew across the fields. I heard one grizz giving chase, but I left it in my dust.
I had just burst through the gate when a miracle happened. Raymond was already on the porch ! To this day I’m not sure how that happened. My grandmother seemed more concerned about being woke at 2 a.m. than bears and ordered us to the bed in the screened in porch. It was noon the next day, armed with bb guns we were under strict orders to return for her ax and the rest of our gear. Keeping a close watch in case he bears had planned an ambush we approached our camp and saw the proof of the night before.
Cow prints all over the place! Those sneaky grizz had tied cow hooves to their paws so no one would know they were around! An old grizz trick, but every one knows that ! : )