The defiant one…A short story…

Jim Wilson Jr, avid hunter, outdoorsman, tracker, and conservationist climbs from his Toyota 4X4 and grabs his pack out of the bed. Shouldering the pack, Jim grabs his 30-06 and starts his trek into the woods. The smell of early morning dew and earth tingles his senses. Deliberately, he pushes on toward his stand at the top of the hill. Jim has chosen a prime area to hunt this winter. His stand has a tremendous view of the wetlands below him and the sun comes up just left of his line of sight.

“There is nothing greater than being in the woods.”

The early morning is quiet, the only sound is the chattering of squirrels and the occasional call of a sparrow looking for its mate. Jim climbs into the stand, just as dawn breaks. Reaching into the pack, Jim takes out a hot thermos of coffee and pours some of the hot liquid into his canteen cup. The coffee serves a dual purpose, it helps Jim wake up, but it also keeps his hands warm. Binoculars are placed to the right of Jim on a small ledge. Slowly, critters creep out and visit the watering hole below his stand. Alert, Jim keeps an eye out for something to feed his family, but the game is not within the governmental regulations. As the evening approaches, Jim loads his gear into his pack and slowly walks out from his stand. Glancing at his watch pensively, Jim realizes he mistimed his departure.

Night is upon him.

Walking down the hill in the dark proves to be tricky for Jim. The moon is full, but the landscape appears differently at night than it does in the daylight. Jim’s boots keep slipping on the wet grass, and several times he must stop to get his bearings. In the darkness, Jim hears sniffing coming from behind him. “Oh Lord, what is tracking me?” Jim turns and, in the moonlight, he can make out the silhouette of a bear. “Oh, dear Lord…” The bear stands on its hind legs and Jim starts to curl into a fetal position. Without warning, the bear mauls Jim in the ribs. Flesh rips as the razor-sharp claws cut into the skin, the snap of bone resounds through the night air. Gasping, Jim tries to find cover between him and the angry behemoth. Scrambling away, Jim attempts to put distance between him and the bear. The bear isn’t having it, instead of relenting, it charges after Jim.

The bear doesn’t let up in its assault. As Jim scrambles for safety, the bear continues to maul him. Adrenaline surges through Jim’s body as he attempts to get away. Cuts are bleeding from Jim’s torso, legs and hands. In the dark, Jim can make out a cliff. Without another thought, Jim rolls off the side and prays that he isn’t leaping from the pan into the fire.

As Jim rolls off the side of the cliff, he hits a tree on his way down. A branch breaks off and stabs into his side. Grunting in extreme pain, he continues his descent to the bottom. Crashing into the bottom of a ravine, Jim lies there aching from the pain pulsating through his body. Gingerly, he pushes himself upright. “Oh, my Lord. I have lost my pack, my first aid, and my rifle. I have to find some shelter and clean these wounds.” Stumbling in the dark, Jim crumbles next to a tree. Leaning against it, he takes stock of where he is and the approximate location of his vehicle. “The truck should be uphill, and about five miles from here.” In the dark, Jim can hear running water.

Crawling to the small stream, Jim washes his cuts. Removing his jacket, he uses his Case knife to cut his jacket into bandages. Wrapping his wounds, he seeks a place to wait for daybreak. He slowly makes his way to a tree and leans against it. As the night slowly passes, Jim prepares for his journey to his truck. “Surely, someone has reported me missing. Maybe, one of the search parties will locate me before I am eaten by this bear.” As he thinks about the attack, he sharpens an oak limb to defend himself with, should he encounter the bear again.

On the horizon, dawn breaks.

Jim stands to his feet and pushes himself toward his goal. As daylight filters into the woods, Jim slowly makes his way up the side of the hill. Throbbing pain racks his body, but still he pushes on. “Lord, I don’t want to be stuck out here for another night with this psycho bear.” Urged on by fear, Jim keeps moving gradually forward. After what seems like hours, Jim finally crests the hill.

Leaning against a tree to let his strength build up, Jim hears sniffing. Jim turns the oak limb over and grasps the bark. “Whatever happens, don’t let go of your weapon. If today is the day you die, take this bear with you to Valhalla.” Jim turns and the bear stands on its hind legs. With a shout, Jim rushes the bear and drives the sharpened oak limb into the bear’s side. Wounded and bleeding profusely, the bear roars. Angrily, the bear mauls Jim repeatedly, until exhausted from a lack of blood, the bear falls on Jim’s broken body.

Ragged breaths whistle through Jim’s broken nostrils. Cuts bleed freely from his face and torso. Turning his head, Jim starts to chuckle. In the distance, he catches a glint of a windshield. As the sun reaches its apex, Jim’s life slowly drains from his body. He closes his eyes as a last act of defiance.

“Just my luck, I get into a life and death fight a hundred yards from my truck.”

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