My grandfather hunted this black bear many years ago. . . in the woods with a big gun. I can only imagine how he stalked a natural predator in its own environment. Bears have enormous strength, excellent hearing and a nearly perfect sense of smell. You need awareness, patience, and guts to be anywhere near it. But in the end, he bagged his trophy. My grandfather mounted the head on the wall of his den for all to appreciate. His four grandchildren watched movies and played with Lego’s under the glare of the beast. My brother would later name it “Big Earl” after the Canadian who earned it. This was surely a rite of passage for our grandfather.
Hunting was a tradition for our grandfather, even though it never continued with his family. Nevertheless, we honored that trophy and loved the stories that floated around it. We felt special. I can thank my grandfather for such memories. Grandfathers are titans in the eyes of their descendants. We marvel at their determination, wonder why we’ll never equal their caliber. It reminds me of an old saying: They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Alas, my brother’s new apartment doesn’t have the space for a black bear. With the Wife’s permission, I will take Big Earl to my house and hang him in my study. No matter where we go in this mysterious and tumultuous life, Big Earl will always have a home. To the grand kids, it was the stuff of legend.