‘You’re not chicken are you?’ I stupidly asked to my Alaskan brown bear guide, Wayne Woods.
‘Get your shit and let’s go’ he replied with a tone that carried a double barreled confidence of, ‘We’re gonna get that bear and if not I’m going to enjoy watching you struggle hiking up Mt. Killapussy, you little smart ass.’
To give you a little bit of context, my daughter and I were hunting brown and black bears on the Copper River in early June. The weather that spring had been an unseasonably warm. Like in the eighties — y’know, something that would give Al Gore a big chubby.
And the snows were melting and causing the river to rise and swallow the beaches.
The bears consequently, who roll out of hibernation and gorge on the beach grass, had moved up to higher elevations to feast on the lush gorgeous greenery way up yonder. As in way way way up frickin’ yonder. This was good for the bears but sucked for us. Or for me, the flatlander from Miami, who’s highest elevation point is an overpass.
Being bereft of beaches to hunt bear upon, Wayne and I were left with glassing grass flats from swollen river bottoms in search of a big fat pre-historic, moose-munching toad to let the air out of. As Jesus, or luck, or whatever you want to believe in, had it, Wayne spotted a monster bruin rolling around on scenic setting probably two thousand feet straight up above where our boat was parked on a sandbar.
‘Is he good?’ I asked. ‘Yeah, he’s good.’ replied Wayne. ‘Is he a ten-footer?’ I asked. ‘Oh, yeah … he’s a ten-footer’, said Wayne. And then, for what felt like an eternity, Wayne didn’t say a thing. He just watched him through the binoculars. Which drove me nuts, because I have all the patience of Bill Burr standing at the back of a long-ass line at the DMV. That’s when, like a douche, I asked Wayne if he was chicken. Wayne Woods is anything but chicken and away we went.
Here’s where I’d like to point out that I didn’t have Mt. Everest cleated hiking boots on. I was wearing waders. Hard rubber sole waders. Not the greatest footwear to climb a steep, damn near vertical, snow slide we had to traverse first just to get semi-close to the bear.
As we plowed up the face of Mt. Killapussy, I started getting a little gassy from the Mountain House instant food diet I’d been on for a week. So, being a dude, I began releasing a series of epic farts any guy would’ve been proud of. But soon the gas ran out and I had a turtle wanting to poke his head out. So, I stopped and told Wayne, ‘Bro … I gotta take a shit.’ He said, ‘Well … take a shit.’ I began to look around where I could steady myself on a steep snow covered slope and drop a deuce without tumbling bare butt down the mountain.
Finally, I found a rock jutting out of the snow slide, so I steadied myself, hiked my pants down and popped a squat. About halfway through my dank bowel movement, it dawned on me that I didn’t bring toilet paper. Now I’m freaking. What am I going to clean my Chattahoochee canal with? Snow? No, too cold and messy. I know. I’ll use my red bandana I had tied around my neck. Off came the bandana and within a few minutes I was spic-n-span and off after my brown bear again all comfy and a few ounces lighter.
Eventually, Wayne and I had reached the knoll just below the spot where we last glassed the brownie. We carefully started moving around the big boulder when the wind swirled on us and blew our scent to the bear. We were busted by the elements. Crap. We were very disappointed. He was a massive beast.
For the first time, when I turned around, near the top of the mountain, I realized how far up we had climbed. I felt like Leo on the bow of the Titanic as I looked out over the gorgeous backyard Wayne gets to play in every day. I nearly busted out in The Who’s tune, ‘I Can See For Miles and Miles.’
It was beautiful but the thing that sucked was I now gotta walk down this dire slope with waders on. Holy shit. I was not comfortable at all. For some reason, plowing up was no problem, but inching down this steep hombre had all the appeal of watching Rosie O’Donnell do an interpretive dance to Hell’s Bells, The Extended Cut. I am not looking forward to this. But off we went.
In the Book Of Job there’s a famous passage that says to the effect that, ‘what you fear will come upon you.’ I feared falling and fall I did. So did Wayne. Wayne tumbled for about fifty yards and I went, according to Wayne, about two-hundred-and-fifty yards. Luckily, I glanced a small rock outcropping, tossing me into a waterfall which kept me from splattering on big-ass death boulders lining the slope.
I was now wet, bruised and bleeding, but still alive. Woods went into the thick stuff lining our black diamond ski run and cut me a big alder branch to use as a ski pole with my rifle to try to steady my shaking skinny legs as we still had a lot of mountain to walk down. Wherever Wayne stepped, I stepped as I sang in my head, ‘Jesus Take The Wheel.’ I was nervous.
Slowly I inched down. I’m talkin’ real slow. As in, shaky, old man, I just fell down a mountain, slow.
All I did now was looked down and place each foot inside my guide’s steps, until I heard Wayne call my name in a loud whisper.
‘Doug’, he said as he pointed towards me. I looked up and gave him the thumbs up signifying I’m OK. ‘Doug’ he said again pointing more emphatically. This time I noticed he was pointing beyond me and up the slope. I turned to see what he was pointing at and it was a big bear, on my track, coming right down on me.
Immediately I un-slung my rifle, racked a round in my Ruger #1, chambered for the .450/.400, and tried to get a clean sight picture to let the bear have it. However, the moguls were so deep, all I could see was the very top of the bear’s back. I had no shot and he was coming quick. I’m screwed. Here he comes. I was bracing for a close shot once he topped the mogul about twenty-five yards above me.
Then it happened. The bear stopped. He stopped right where I had taken a crap earlier that day and bent down and ate my excreted pile of Mountain House. No lie. He munched on my excrement and picked up my red bandana in his mouth and sauntered off the slope and my trail.
To say the least, I was relieved.
Once Wayne and I were back in the boat and heading off to our camp did the moral of this harrowing story dawn on me, namely: that which once was a pain in my ass, actually ended up saving my life.
If a person looked to Scripture and paid particular attention to the passages within the Bible that address the topic of hunting, then they’d walk away thinking not only is hunting animals tolerated but it is endorsed by God. And that’s exactly what this little book is about: proving that God, from Genesis to Revelation, is extremely cool with hunters and hunting. I’ll go out on a biblical limb and claim right off the bat that you cannot show me, through the balance of the Bible, that the God of the Scripture is against the responsible killing and the grilling of the animals He created. ~Doug Giles
In his killer new book RISE, KILL & EAT: A Theology of Hunting From Genesis to Revelation Doug carries on with his courageous war against the lunatic fringe who dare recommend Bambi solutions to the annual production of edible wildlife. –Ted Nugent