Monday, December 31, 2012
"You will not believe what I roped yesterday," Will said to me as I pulled my pick up truck into his yard.
"Knowing you, I am afraid to ask." I replied and then continued, "You are as big a liar as me - if that is possible."
"It was a bear!" He said slapping his thigh and laughing.
"No way! Where is Debbie? She will tell me the truth."
Just about then his wife, Debbie came out of the bunkhouse after cleaning it. She set down the broom and dust pan and came over to my truck as I was getting out. "So, did Will tell you what he did yesterday?" She asked.
"Is that really true? Are you two pulling one over on me?" I asked with both eyes squinted nearly shut.
In unison I heard 'em both say it indeed was a true story. I heard it over and over again even into the night around the campfire. There are two animals a cowboy would love to rope off his horse. One is a coyote and the other is a bear. Both are just about impossible. That night we three decided to camp out in the mountains on their property. Trixie was unable to come along as she planned to wash and wax her truck. So until the wee hours of the morning, Will must have told me the story at least a dozen times.
Here in The Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, we have lots of black bears. Us folks who live here respect them and know never to feed them and keep all food products locked up. Tourists are a different story. Some of these moron, city people think they are pets and actually try to throw out food to the bears. What happens is that the bears, who are naturally afraid of people, lose their fear when fed. They associate food with humans. Then they get too close and the Park Rangers have to dart 'em and re-locate them after tagging their ears. If the bear returns again, it is is killed. So when you feed a bear, you are leading it towards its death!
So anyway, I was thinking about Will roping a bear as I sat near the fire long after they went to bed. Early the next morning before daylight, an idea hit me (or 'ideal' as some people say here). 'If he could do it, so can I', was my thought as I left the campsite and tip-toed toward the horses. I saddled his mare and the two of us walked out of camp. About an eighth of a mile later, I mounted and rode into the mountains. Fog can be quite heavy early in the mornings. This was one of those days. My shirt was damp from the fog and the mist lay heavily on me and Will's horse. I couldn't see anymore than about twenty five yards ahead. Then it happened!
The mare's ears first shot straight up and then laid back. I felt her tighten beneath me as I squeezed my calves to prod her along. We came over a knoll and there is was! A full grown bear was about ten feet away from us downhill. She was so busy eating bugs from a dead fallen tree that she did not hear or smell us. The sounds of me freeing my rope seemed to echo off the canyon wall below. My adrenalin was racing my heart, I was rapidly breathing in excitement as I put a big loop in the rope, swung it overhead and fired away!
It was a perfect hit for the unsuspecting animal and I immediately dallied it around my saddle horn and spurred that mare! Off we went, racing back up and over the knoll to the path that led to the gravel road and into camp. That bear was snorting, growling, and rolling trying to right itself so it could run. The mare was blowing, her ears were laid back and she was fighting trying to drag the bear along the road. Me, I was snorting, howling, and laughing all at the same time! I was so excited. Then it hit me.
'What the heck was I going to do with this bear now that I roped her?' I figured Will and Debbie would never believe me in a million years that I also roped a bear. So I thought I'd drag that sucker back into camp and let go of the rope right by the fire pit. I imagined a huge wreck and lots of excitement. I was crackin' myself up at the very thought.
I felt a heavy tug and then another against my right leg from the rope. The bear righted itself and was now trotting along behind me and my horse. 'This is too funny,' I thought as the three of us pranced towards camp. A bear has claws - really big claws! They will shoot out like cat's claws, when it wants to attack or climb a tree. With no warning that bear charged up even with us and began to climb the rump of that mare. Its claws were ripping into the horse and it proceeded to climb up where I was sitting! The horse was kickin', turnin', crow hoppin' and screamimg in pain as the bear began its mount! I had no choice but to cut that rope and dive off!
A big rock broke my fall! It also broke my glasses and the heel off my left boot. My eye was sealed shut and stinging with pain. I squinted to see that bear riding away on top of the mare into the fog. 'Holy Crap!' How was I going to tell Will I gave a perfectly good saddle and horse to a bear? I was limpin' down the road towards our camp when off to my right I heard something crashing down through the timbers. I looked up with with my one good eye and could not believe what I saw!
That bear was a ridin' that mare, sitting square in the saddle, and had a loop built in my rope. Yep, it was tryin' to rope me!
If this story isn't true - one day it might be.
Friday, December 21, 2012
I first met her at the auction in Lubbock, Texas. I was daydreaming, leaning against the rail, and having a cup of coffee. I was minding my own business waiting for the bidding to begin. Out of nowhere, she bumped my arm and coffee went all over my shirt sleeve. She never said a word. It didn't matter as I was 'star-struck'.
Without a doubt she was the most beautiful lady there! I wasn't the only one who thought so. There must have been at least five other cowboys hanging around and drooling over her. She had big brown eyes, long, well-combed hair and was my height. I couldn't take my eyes off her. When she turned to walk away all of us enjoyed the site of her backside.
Being three hundred miles away from home I knew I would spend the night somewhere between Lubbock and Fort Collins, Colorado. I was alone and began to ponder the situation. I remember the last thing Trixie telling me was to behave as I had crossed the line once before. I saw the little lady again when the auction finally began and could not control myself. After much consideration and hearing Trixie's words echo through my brain, I lost control. She was a quiet little thing and just looked like a "Mary". I didn't care what her real name was, I just called her Mary. She did not seem to mind a bit.
My new 'friend' was a free spirit and willingly went with me. My emotions were firing away inside. I saw the envy in the cowboys' faces as we pulled out of the yard and headed up the highway. A few hours later, I knew the little lass was probably hungry and tired after traveling some two hundred miles north of Lubbock. We spent the night together! I had crossed the line, and there was no turning back now. I enjoyed running my hands through her hair and gently caressing her back side. She pushed against me like no other. This was to be the talk of all the boys at the feed store. I couldn't wait to tell them about it.
The next morning I dropped her off at the crossroads by our north pasture. She didn't seem to mind a bit being let out in strange territory. I watched her in the outside mirrors as she walked over the hill and disappeared. A few days later all the trouble began. I was feeling guilty and told Trixie what I had done. She was furious! She said I had no idea of the lady's background and I could be in a world of trouble. She reminded me of the previous time when I did this and I felt guilty. I still couldn't get that little lady out of my mind.
She had not left the area! She did not disappear from my life! She stayed around and caused trouble for Trixie and me. It seemed every time I returned home from town I would see her. As I passed her by, on the dirt road, I saw her flip her head and that beautiful hair would fly through the air. Then one day it happened. I found out she was pregnant. All the boys at the feed store were impressed - but not me. Times were hard as cattle prices dropped and I wondered where the heck I would get the money for medical bills and then the cost to raise her little one. I felt sick. Trixie was correct. I should have 'behaved' myself.
I guess we are all victims of repeating history. For me, it was the second time I bought a mare at the auction in Lubbock. That is what Trixie meant when she said to 'behave' myself. We did not have the money for another horse and now there was to be an offspring. I just got caught up in the bidding because all the other ranchers wanted this horse as well. I guess the next time I go to the auction Trixie will go along - so I behave myself!
Now, I sure enough hope Y'all didn't think there was something else with htis story.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
We have lots of black bears around here in East Tennessee, and we respect them. Any visitor coming to our area should do the same. Y'all would not believe the morons who come here and try to feed the bears! What idiots! Never leave food out, never feed the bears, and never get too close. You will be attacked.
We also have lots of snakes. I can't hear the sound of the timber rattlesnake and that makes me extra cautious. My least favorite snake is the copperhead. They are aggressive and will come after you. The most common medical problem treated here in the Smoky Mountains is the sting from the yellow jacket. they make their nests in the ground, and if you step on a nest, you had better be able to run fast.
One night our friend, Stickly (Yep, that is his real name), Trixie, and I were sitting around our campfire here by the bunkhouse telling stories. Somehow, the the topic of scary things that happened to us came up. Stickly said a few years back, he was fly fishing in the Little River out in the mountains. When he tried to come up the bank and go to his truck, he pushed his hands right into a nest of yellow jackets. They chased him and stung him from head to toe.
Trixie and I agreed that was pretty scary. She told us about the time when she finished bush hogging and general cleanup in our yard and pasture. She said she was sittin' on a stump when our dog, 'Two-Bit', kept yelping at a piece of plywood lying on the ground over by the fence. Trixie knew something wasn't right. She lifted the piece of wood with a hoe and had quite the shock! Under it was a bed of copperheads! She went to the bunkhouse and returned with the twelve gauge and shot all of 'em cold, stone dead.
Stickly and I agreed that was pretty scary. I told them about me doing something real stupid. I had been hiking alone in the mountains and came up on a bear cub. The mother was nowhere to be seen, but I knew she was around around. I turned to leave and there she was. I was caught between the mother and the cub!
"What happened?" asked Stickly.
I proceeded to demonstrate. I stood next to our campfire, arched my back, raised my arms and gave out an 'arrrr'! It was just like the mother growling at me while standing on her two hind legs. Stickly says that was pretty scary.
I satback down and he asked what happened.
I responded, "I messed my pants."
"I think I would have also," he said.
"No, I mean just a minute ago when I stood and went 'arrrr!'