The Bear Truth

Every year the Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association names a Person of the Year. You know the kind. The ones you can count on, who really make organizations tick. Raffle tickets to tractor repair, they’ll find a way to get it done.

Two years ago the Person in question was a guy I’ll call John. He’s one of those quiet, unassuming types, retired from the job where he worked for over twenty years as a machinist, spends his time with his horses, his kids and his grandkids.

In other words, the epitome of well-adjusted, middle class male.

Two weeks ago we were at the Senior Pro finals rodeo up in Claresholm, Alberta. One morning after feeding the horses my husband and John and a couple of other guys were hanging around drinking coffee, shooting the bull. Talk turned to the overabundance of bears in the Rocky Mountain foothills of both Alberta and Montana.

“I almost got eaten by a bear once,” John said, all matter of fact.

Needless to say, he had sole possession of the floor.

“We lived in a tent in campgrounds a lot when I was a little kid,” he said. “My dad died when I was two and my mom was a drunk and drug addict and probably a prostitute, ‘cuz she had to get the money for that stuff somewhere. One day my brother and I were alone–as usual–and a black bear came along and ripped into the tent. We smacked him on the head with pots and pans but he wouldn’t stop coming until somebody drove into the campground and chased him away.”

Dead silence. The ‘you’re kidding, right?‘ kind. John sort of shrugged and went on talking about how the bears are a real problem up around Pincher Creek. My husband came back to the camper and told me the story. I did the same ‘no way‘ thing.

“Honest to God truth,” my husband said. “So…I guess that doesn’t leave many excuses for the rest of us, does it?”

Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real