Wednesday, January 13, 2010

bear hunting

Today I spent 30 minutes with a real live bear hunter!  As he lay alone in a tiny room, troubled by intestinal problems, he was eager to talk.  Dentist by day, bear tracker by night, this elderly gentleman from east Tennessee regaled me with tales of hunts and dogs and 45 caliber guns.  One night he was walking in the woods when he heard his coons baying.  He went running in the direction of the noise and fell off a small precipice.  The 15 foot fall was cushioned by a thicket, but when he finally hit the ground he landed on one of his dogs - 10 feet from the cornered bear.  He told me about a bear's distinct smell. "Like the smell of a mother wart hog foaming at the mouth." (Oh so thats what it smells like..) From his fallen position he aimed his gun and in two shots the bear was dead.  

One of his coons had been "gutted" by the bear, but they were standing on a rock, so the exposed guts had not been dragged through dirt or leaves.  With a needle, thread and a flashlight, the bear hunter put the dog together and sewed the 1 ft gash closed.  Then the hunter and his dogs hiked back to the lodge.  Yep.  That's the terrifying tale he told me.

Everybody has a story.  I talked to a marriage counselor who barely lived through a motorcycle wreck, yet gave relationship advice to the paramedic who sat with him all the way to the hospital.  I talked with a man who worked for a local mill for 70 years.  A Greek woman whose restaurant business family moved to Spartanburg in 1925.  They had to learn to cook American diner food because people here wanted hamburgers and pecan pie not baklava or moussaka.  I've talked to several chaplains who were experiencing the other side of the hospital experience.  I've listened to drug addicts who kept telling me that they were totally equipped to deal with a premie baby.  In every room there are great stories waiting to be shared if the opportunity and prompting is given.

Every day I am surprised by the levels of love, commitment, disfunction and courage I encounter.  I'm also learning to see a piece of myself in every story.  Watch out bears!

Listen, dear friends, to God's truth, bend your ears to what I tell you.  I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb; I'll let you in on the sweet old truths, Stories we heard from our fathers, counsel we learned at our mother's knee. We're not keeping this to ourselves, we're passing it along to the next generation— God's fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. Psalms 78:1-4 The Message


  1. the bear story is brilliant!!! please tell more of these; they're perfect therapy stories for a vegetarian.

  2. so THAT's what bears smell like! OMG.

  3. I can bearly stand it! Imagine being that smell-close to a bear! Remember when I sewed up a kitties head laceration?! Not quite a gutted dog!