The Bear

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40 Cal.
Nov 17, 2016
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N.C. and elsewhere
My Uncle took my 9-year old girl cousin and I (9-years old) bear hunting. This was a spot and stalk hunt in one of the very early muzzleloader only seasons. My Uncle was not a muzzleloader aficionado but he carried a Zouave while my cousin and I shared a .45 caliber "Hawken-ish" rifle. I don't know what was loaded into either as I was young and my Uncle did all the loading. My cousin and I took turns carrying the rifle with no cap on it. We were tired and hungry when we came upon two bears. My cousin says to my Uncle, "Daddy I want to shoot the little one". She is talking right out loud and the bears are just standing there taking this all in. My Uncle tells her to be quiet and still but she keeps right on talking, asking questions and kind of waving the rifle around. My Uncle gets stern with us and we are quiet and still. He pushes us forward until we are very close to the bears. My Uncle kneels down and tells my cousin what to do in whispers. I hear part of it and remember "When I pull the hammer back you aim right behind the front leg and pull the trigger just like targets". There is a tin rumbling sound. My Uncle has his musket caps in the tin as the percussion caps and he is stirring the tin with his fat finger to try to get a cap out for both rifles. The bears decide to move closer to us and continue to stare at what must have seemed like an odd situation. My Uncle caps his rifle first then my cousin's. He cocks her rifle and is in the process of standing up when she shoots. She shoots from the hip, almost immediately after he released the rifle to her. No shoulder, no aim .... nothing like that. My Uncle jumps to full upright and raises his rifle. The smoke hangs in the air and we can't see anything. I remember thinking "that wasn't so loud" after I got over the initial startle of the surprise report. Finally my Uncle pushes us to the side. I don't see any more bears. My Uncle is aiming at something. My cousin starts talking again. "Did I get him Daddy, is he dead"? After what seems like a long time of aiming, my Uncle lowers his rifle and puts his face right up near ours, shows his teeth like a growling dog and says "Stay here and don't move". We know he's serious and we listen! He walks about half way to where the bears were (maybe 10 or 12 steps) aiming the whole way. I see him lower his rifle and take the cap off. He lowers the hammer. Then he barks, "Both of you come here". When we get there I think I see a bear in the grass. My eyes get big. My cousin sees it too and shreaks, "Did I get it, did I get it"? We all walk about six more steps and there is the dead bear in the grass. My Uncle rolls it over and starts inspecting it. We join in touching the fur. He says out loud, " I cant believe it". The bear was the smaller one of the two like my cousin wanted. It was hit right below the ear. Apparently it dropped on the spot and never even flinched. My Uncle was emotionless and I could never tell if he was happy, mad, frustrated, disappointed or joyful. He skinned the bear and rolled up the skin and tied it to the top of his back pack. He put a large amount of meat inside his pack. He took off a flannel shirt and tied it into a sack of sorts and put the remaining meat into it and tied that to the end of his rifle and carried it over his shoulder. In his other hand he took "our" .45 rifle and used it as a walking stick on the way out, about an hour. What a memory was made that day.....

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