ThesearesometruehuntingstoriesIgatheredin2016.Ipassthemalongtoyouforachuckleandforsubtle learning.Hunter Toasting, but Not With a Glass“How did you do?” my barber asked as he hacked away a hunting month of gray hair. I related my success and some new hunt stories as he worked. Then he returned with this one:Jordan came in for a cut. I sized up his situation as he waited his turn. His face was burned crimson, his eyelashes gone, and the front of his head hairless. “Man, what happened to you?” the barber asked. “I was hunting with my buddies and the Coleman lantern exploded when I tried to light it. Can you do anything to make me look better?”With time, one of Jordan’s hunting buddies came for a haircut. “That sure was a bad lantern explosion that injured Jordan, wasn’t it?” “Awh – is that what he told you?” Then the truth tumbled out. It seems Jordan is of slight build and short. He and his friends were conjuring around a big campfire and drinking. Jordan, wanting to be like the big guys, accepted each bottle round. He began to dose off now and then. The crew went into the tent to play cards when the brilliant fire and stories faded, leaving Jordan slumped in his dreamland chair. Soon the plastic in Jordan’s Chinese front chair legs accepted the maximum fire radiant heat. They buckled and tossed sleeping Jordan headfirst into the glowing embers. His immediate thought must have been that he had arrived at Hell’s gate. The friends rushed him to the hospital, but it was the end of the hunt for Jordan. Note: how tragic it would have been if the crew was hunting in the backcountry and had no means to get Jordan help. Never be Too Proud to Accept AdviceThe above story elicited another fire warning. An outfitter advised a group of hunters not to dry their boots by wearing them around a fire. They might get too hot. One fellow declared he would be able to feel the heat and take them off in time. In a few minutes, the guy bent over and used both hands to feel the bottom of his two boots. He screamed, jumped up and went rolling in and clawing the grass in a painful frenzy, yelling for WATER, WATER, WATER! His boot soles were not made of leather, but of a nylon-like composition common today in many boots. The tenacious melted sole glop stuck to his hands and continued to severely burn him. His buddies took him to the emergency room, where the late night doctors probably wondered what unique hunting season disaster would next walk in.I Brought My Own Saddle and Look Like Sorta Like a Cowhand, So Assume I Am an ExpertI decided to try bear hunting on a ranch (more like an estate) beautifully situated along the Colorado River. The aspen and cottonwoods still lingered in radiant golden display. An Amtrak train shuttled by each day and many rafts and fishing dories silently floated by my camp. The fishing from my sheep wagon campsite was fun but challenging without my forgotten net. Most importantly, a renewed friendship after 30 years of raising families made our reunion sweeter. Then there were the hunting stories related, one of which I must record for posterity.A fellow asked to deer hunt on the ranch, and whether he could rent a horse. The rancher replied “Yes, and No”. All his horses and trappings were already hired; he only had a mule left. “Well, I brought my own saddle, so I’d like to rent the mule.” Jake assumed a cowboy coming with his own saddle knew what he was doing, and rented the trusty hardworking mule. Jake told the hunter the mule was mellow, accommodating and knew what to do, “but never lay a rope on that mule!”In the evening, a weary, disheveled hunter silently returned the mule. Jake took notice of the deer, but as the gentleman he is, avoided asking about the condition of the buck. For the next few weeks, Jake pondered what in tarnation happened !!!? All things become focused with time. Jake’s visiting neighbor recounted how he saw a hunter drop a deer on Jakes posted land. Curious, he pulled his pickup over and watched. The hunter field dressed the deer, cleaned up, and tied a drag rope to the buck and mounted the mule. When the rope got taut and pressed on the mule’s rump, the devil took hold of the mule. It bucked and twisted in a panicked fit. The hunter recalled the first lesson of the day –“do not put a rope on that mule!” The second lesson became apparent as the rifle barrel kept slamming into the back of his head – do not wear your rifle, backpack or anything tied across your back when riding an animal! That second lesson was enforced when the mule finally ridded itself of its mount and sent the hunter skyward to land on his back - across the rifle. The neighbor continued with the unfolding spectacle. The bewinded and in-pain hunter writhed in doumbfounded agony, mental confusion and disorientation, gasping for air and a clear mind. The mule tore down the pasture with the buck bouncing at the end of the long rope. In a couple of minutes the hunter must have comprehended that the mule hoof thumps were getting louder. He eased up on one elbow to take a gander – by golly, sure e’nuf, that mule had tired of flailing the deer around in circles in the far end of the field and was headed straight toward him! Now his raising up did little to help, because the mule saw him and panicked in an arc to avoid the fellow. Comprehension sparked as the deer rolled at the end of the rope. “I could get raked away by that rope, and then gored when I meet the antlers at the end of the rope!”Now you know why the deer was so uselessly mangled. Jake the rancher named the animal the “Amtrak deer” because it appeared to have been used to derail the train, perhaps several times. The name “Amtrack deer” and date were added to the rancher’s Fiasco Board in the guest hunting cabin.Bruin BaitSeptember, 2016, Peru Creek, near Montezuma, ColoradoI had a very strong gut feeling about the camouflaged hunter that stopped his truck in the middle of the road to enquire, “How is the bow hunting?” I just POSITIVELY KNEW the friendly-faced fellow wearing the forward leaning French voyager cammo cap had a story to tell. A happy life of outdoor recreation and hunting was written all over his face and advancing gait. I wrote down the following tale as soon as our BS session was over.Brian lives in Larkspur, Colorado, in a dispersed community in a pine forest on the plains east of the Rockies. Larkspur is the site of Colorado’s famous Renaissance Festival with its enthusiastic and sometimes eccentric reenactors. So, it is a place where the unusual can happen. When I mentioned I had been unsuccessfully bear hunting, Brian said, “Let me tell you my bear story!”Brian was walking his two black dogs along the community road when a bear bolted onto the road with obviously evil, nefarious intentions. The bear sauntered toward the trio and then broke into a lope. The famous dog-to-man bonding instantly evaporated, and the faithful dogs sprinted toward home safety. That left Brian in the middle of the road with a decision – flee and incense the bear to run him down, or stay and hold ground with confidence.The bear made the decision!! It bolted to Brian and stood up nose-to-nose in front of Brian with raised paws while chittering sarcastic-to-ominous snarls. Both had their arms raised. The bear soon made the first first move by swiping at Brains’ left arm. Brian tried to deflect the blow, where upon the bear angrily clamped Brian’s forearm in its jaw. A super dose of adrenalin made Brian comprehend “it was now or never to act”. The bear received a super “KO” to its eye, let go of Brian’s arm and stood down, but obviously contemplating its next move. At this moment a neighbor motorist arrived confused at the mid-road situation. Brian yelled, “GET YOUR CAR BETWEEN ME AND THE BEAR!!!”, which the saving angel did. The bear decided it was out maneuvered and sauntered off. Brian refused a ride home, claiming he did not want to get the woman’s car bloody. Brian’s wife asked how the morning walk had been, and why the dogs came home before him. “Oh, the walk was OK except for the bear chewing on my arm”. She took him to the doctor who cleaned and dressed the chewed arm. While the arm wound did not feel very well, Brian’s main concern to the doctor was “How soon can I go hunting – it is September and almost muzzle loading season?” The doctor reported the incident to Parks and Wildlife (as required by law), which arrived with a bruin culvert trap and a Safeway chicken for bait. Addendum A: Bears try to establish dominance by charging human intruders and stopping just short of a physical attack. Brian correctly raised his arms and tried to look as big as possible and stood his ground; running incites bears to pursue. He was just unlucky to meet a nasty bear.Dogs hate bears. Dog owners should be vigilant when walking their dogs. That includes looking behind and keeping dogs under voice control. Please contemplate the story outcome if the dogs had been leashed and circled Brian for protection. They could have tangled Brian in leashes and brought him down where he would be defenseless during a bear-dog fight.Addendum B: You just have to wonder with tongue in cheek if Brian considerately refused a ride home because of his mangled, bloody arm, or because his bottom half was slightly damp. A hunt without a story to remember is not really a hunt!