Many Years Ago
Ago, I was eighteen and hunting with my neighbour’s son, Roy aged eleven. His dad, Harry was like a second father to me and unable to join us. We were in the deep woods of northern Quebec and had walked miles to get into an area not visited often by anyone. Partridge, or technically known as ruffed grouse were smart, quick on the fly yet liked to
play games, darting between trees: a worthy foe.
I carried my .410 3-shot Mossburg shotgun loaded with #6 beads. Roy, fifteen feet to my right carried my loaded .303 jungle carbine rifle, WW 11 vintage. Boys in those days were trained by their fathers to be careful, being a good shot and respecting the rules of their mentor. Today it was me who uttered commands which had to be instantly obeyed. That was the way it was, and Roy’s father had trained me.
A powerful weapon was necessary in the wild territory and used often for protection. 150 lb. wolves abounded in those days. Roy enjoyed his role as gun-bearer. Suddenly we broke through the wildness of nature and saw a naturally cleared parcel of land as if some early setter had cleared it for crops. In the distance I spotted a copse of woods and just maybe a flock of partridge may be using it as their home. We headed straight for it
Roy and I chatted about his Junior school classes, family and the joy of being in the woods. He, his dad and I, spent many a day hiking, fishing, and hunting. When with us, Harry always carried his P-38 German Luger, a souvenir from years in WW 11. His son Roy was a perfect young companion who loved the outdoors almost as much as I did. My birth-dad once told me I spent so much time in the woods I was going to turn into a tree. Thankfully, I did not.
The wind carried us along easily, with its pushing against our backs. We crossed crunching shrubs and plants from the chill after a frosty visit this September early morning. We were almost there when I spotted a movement between two trees. My eyes peered deeply into the woods. Years of training helped me pick out the outline of a large animal and it was standing and looking directly at me not more than 50 feet away. ”Stop moving. Bear ahead” I said in a low voice.
Roy knew enough to stop then check the safety on the .303. If I needed the rifle I would rush to him, and grab it, prepared to defend ourselves. After much practice over the years, I had become a crack shot and had no fear for our safety. Both of us were puzzled as to why the huge bear chose to wait here as we advanced on his position. He continued to stare at us. We were motionless and stared back. Neither side showed any aggressiveness.
Then the fully grown adult bear dropped down on all fours, gave a snort and walked away. I did not have the bravado necessary to check if a meal of moose lay among the thickness of this small acre of woods. A sense of relief led Roy and me towards home.
(c) 2017 Richard L. Provencher