The Canadian years, 32 charging bear

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Friday 12 December 13:08

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Watching a charging bear

My father had when he had served in the KNIL (Dutch army in the colonies) in Indonesia, to free the country of his birth from the Japanese, won many markman’s prizes. ‘The trophies after so many years still adorned our living room. He was fascinated with firearms. I knew it, and he was a good shot. Many a shooting gallery was delighted when my father at the fair would pass them by, he could simply clean them out.. After several shots my father knew what the deviation of a gun was, and then he asked my mother, what prize she wanted. It usually were gigantic, plush animals. We knew it, he was a pure sniper. Now after so many years, I also know that you cannot learn that. They can teach you to shoot well, but a marksman has always been a marksman, from the first gun that he has ever 'shouldered' on.

He tried to teach us some basic skills and my brother and I could shoot pretty well after some practice, but we did not match the cold-blooded calculated composure that my own father had.  A rifle is heavy, he taught us to take a bite of breath and bring the rifle up and immediately after  getting the target  in sight, to shoot without a doubt. If you did it like most of the world shoots, you first looked for the target and then by the fatigue of your arm, caused by the weight of the gun, your arm would always tremble slightly. A small deviation moving the barrel, by a tiny vibration in your arm, is a large deviation of a meter at a distance of 100 to 200 meters. He shot out without using a sight, we would line up the needle with the visor and put the ‘v’ in line with the object. My father just aimed and hit everything he wanted. I was very impressed once when we were target shooting and he shot a pencil from the ground. A pencil that had stood upright.

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He also taught us to look for the ‘killing line’. With a deer or a deer like animal, that is always the crossline above the attachment of the front leg. Then the bullet will always strike the neck, if you shoot too high or the lung and heart area if you’ve shot too low. The line of the neck is a simple line because it is an elongated object. It is a mercy killing, it's not like in the war to get the target inoperative or to injure, no, it is to kill in the fastest possible way.

‘A bullet always travels a parabolic trajectory.’ My father explained to us, and although he usually was not very talkative, where arms and oil were concerned, however, you entered two areas that had indisputably his interest.’ Look,’ my father said, ‘when a racing car loses a wheel, the race car will be overtaken by the same wheel, or the wheel  will jump meters up, above the car. That has to do with forces that were similar as a whole, but released, functioning differently by the changing shape of the loose wheel. The circumference of the tire increases because the weight of the race car no longer bears on it, but the speed remains the same. Gravity also has a smaller influence on the tire's mass than on the race car.’ We understood that, we had seen on that TV.

‘Each barrel of a gun is grooved,’ he had explained ‘and every gun has a unique groove inside it. That groove which is spiral gives the bullet a rotational movement when leaving the barrel, which serves to keep the trajectory straight and as with the race car tire, the bullet is no longer hindered by the barrel when leaving the barrel and jumps up . There is no gun that fires a bullet that goes to a target in a straight line. It is always a parabolic orbit that rises and then after that, after having passed the middle point range, drops and hits the target.’

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My father loved to hunt, like so many of our neighbors and if the animals were not pregnant, which was in the wintery months, than you bought at townhall a tag for 25 cents, which covered immediately your hunting tax and license, you could go hunting outside the city. If you had shot a deer, an elk or a moose, then you put the tag through a hole that you poked behind the tendon of a leg and then you had complied with all regulations.

One morning my father said to my brother and me,’ tomorrow we will leave early, we are going to Grande Cache and we are not coming back until we have scored a few deer. That evening we were cleaning the guns, I was the youngest and had a .22 caliber. You pulled the bolt out and you pulled a ragger with oil through the barrel, then you put a wad of paper in the top so that no more dust could enter. My brother had a Leanne Field 303, which is a very heavy calibre carbine from the second world war, single-shot and my father had a Parkinson which was like a modern machine gun with a magazine clip, where after each fired shot a suspension spring loaded a new bullet for the next shot. We were the men, we were the hunters! Then we would have days of boning out meat and cutting it or grinding it into minced meat before freezing it in.

We came to the last trading post where you could still refuel and eat something before leaving all civilization behind. The menu made it clear what was most shot here. Moose soup, moose burger, sausage Moose, Moose steak, two meat balls moose meat with fries. We were in Moose country. My father, my brother and I each chose a different dish that tasted exactly the same. The owner chatted and told us that 10 000 deer had to be shot to curb the population. After some coffee and apple pie, we took up our baggage and we walked out of the cabin / trading post. After fifteen minutes walking we were alone. There was nowhere even one trace of civilization to be seen. Deeper and deeper we went, the snow crunched softly under our feet as we made our way into the forest. We came to a place where the snow had melted, a resting place or berth for animals. In the bushes at knee level, we saw some hair that was stuck there, that had unmistakably belonged to a deer. We realized that a large animal had dragged a deer along in its mouth. It could not have been a cougar, the hairs would have been lower in the bushes. I did not dare to think, or speak out loud, but the concept of a bear or bears awakening from hibernation, forced itself upon me.  Bears wake up early at times, because they are hungry, in winter there are no berries or vegetation to feed upon. They are tricky when they get hungry. They tear cemeteries open, they run in to villages, garbage containers are robbed and anything edible, dog, cat, sheep, cow but also people are slain and carried away.

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I saw that my father and my brother, we are all three, shared the same thought. ‘We will leave here’ my father said,’ do not talk, and make as little noise as possible’.’ We’ll walk away in a circular movement, as far as possible into the wind and then back to the car and will go to another hunting spot’. My brother sneezed and I saw a white spot of gray snow come up. We remained dead silent, I knew, important to be not threatening, bears have poor vision but have a very keen sense of hearing and strong sense of smell. Everything I knew about bears came up. Running does not make sense, they achieve an easy 30 miles per hour despite their weight. They can climb better and faster in a tree than a human. It was better to carefully walk backwards, with not too much movement.

The bear got up and balanced on its hind legs. I knew what was coming, he would precisely determine our location and then on all fours rush towards us and the 100 meters that separated us he would overcome before we could get away.  ‘Right,’ my father said to me, ‘we’ve got a problem,’ I had the lightest gun, ‘if I say yes, you shoot him, if he comes at you, than I'll lay him down.’ My .22 was a one shot rifle and I did not feel happy about it. The bear dropped on all four legs and began running slowly at first and then faster, at us. My father was very contained,’ you can’t get through the fat with your bullet,’ he said, or through the skull, it does not matter, where ever you can hit him, do so. Shoot, shoot now!’ I aimed and fired, hitting him in his left shoulder above his front leg.  The bear responded with a roar of pure rage, he came back up and out of balance and he rushed at me.

He was now close and focused on me, he would come on to me and with a swipe of his paw kill me. I was frozen, I smelled the bear now and saw his mouth and yellowish teeth. My father shouldered and I heard no shot, the bear did not fly to smithereens, I just heard a click..CLICK .. then another one. My father’s gun had jammed. This was it, I thought, what a bad luck. My father picked up the carbine from the petrified hands of my brother and hit the bear in full length, splashed him with an explosion, the bullet tore his chest apart. A hit right between the area where the ribs meet, the cavity, so to say.

The shot hit him and spun him around, and a small hole where the bullet had entered when it penetrated left a hole the size of a soccer ball in his back where it had left the body. The monster was dead, stone dead. First my father pulled the clip from his own gun and made it ready for use again. Then we made an incision in the lower abdomen, the liver was taken out and cut in half to see if it was speckled or not. It was uniform in color, it was a healthy animal. We quickly cut around the private parts of the bear and  the hunting knives, that have a sharp round belly, cut around the attachment of the leg, to liberate the hams. It was my job, with a hatchet to hack through the bones and attachments. The very sound, the crunch of steel on bone, sometimes I still hear it and I shudder.

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We just had cut the legs loose when it was impossible, because of the frost, to get anything else loose. My brother and I stood by the legs and my father went to get the car, to get to the loot as close as possible. I resolved never to go along again. But then again we were not masters over our own lives. If my father informed us that we were going out hunting, he ordered, it was unspoken, but we had to go along. For the first time since the fatal shot and the rapid chopping and slicing up of meat, my father spoke. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘that was a good shot. We were dragging the hams to the car. ‘Yes, I said,’ I wanted to thank you for that, I was over the initial shock.’ Oh,’ he said,’ it was not about you. It was between the bear and me,’ and I knew with pain in my heart that he had unwittingly spoken the truth. I had only been the arrester so he could get a clean shot. My father loved only himself and my mother and in that order.

San Daniel 2014

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Reacties (2) 

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So what have you been lucky, moore than Hugh Glass from my story "Hij kroop 550 km zwaargewond na een aanval van een beer" based on truth.
yep then you've got a problem..