Heading up the driveway in my truck this afternoon, the folks who live at the bottom of the gravel road came out with some news.
“They brought down two bears this morning,” said Bill.
I knew what he meant. “They” referred to hunters with packs of hound dogs and 4×4 ATV’s. “Brought down” meant the bears were shot dead, then brought down Fork Mountain, their wide torsos limp across the back of a vehicle, paws flopping over the sides.
“It’s that time of year again,” I told Bill.
“I know. I don’t approve of it. Not that way, at any rate, but the hunters said they found a few bears’ dens and ran them down the mountain. They shot two of them, but a few more hurried off and are likely roaming nearby.”
“Ok,” I told him. I said a silent prayer then that all the bears might find the 34 acres I live on and take refuge there until the end of hunting season. There are bobcat, black bear, deer, weasel, opossum, raccoon, birds of prey, and more up here. I see evidence of them increasingly this time of year.
“They always seem to forget that it’s the bears’ territory up there,” said Bill, waving his hand up the mountain. “Go messing around enough and you can bet the bears are going to get wrassled up, come down the mountain to get away from all the dogs…trouble is, it’s not going to be any better for them once they get down here.”
I nodded, then headed up the mountain with a honk and wave, leaving Bill in an unfortunate cloud of fumes from my, oops, really old truck. I don’t judge those who hunt deer to feed their families, but killing a bear has always felt sacreligious to me. I think of Old Ben in William Faulkner’s “The Bear,” which I could not find to quote for tonight’s post, but those who have read the famous story know what I mean.
In anticipation of tomorrow’s Halloween, may it be Night of the Living Bears, rather than a continuation of today’s deaths.
* * *
Searching for “The Bear,” I came across two provocative quotes from William Faulkner:
In an interview with The Paris Review in 1956, Faulkner remarked, “Let the writer take up surgery or bricklaying if he is interested in technique. There is no mechanical way to get the writing done, no shortcut. The young writer would be a fool to follow a theory. Teach yourself by your own mistakes; people learn only by error. The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.”
And another quote: “My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.” [What about a pen?]