A story of black bears.....and Rugers

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BigJ71

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
Messages
100
Location
Illinois
Here are a couple stories of black bears....my father....and Ruger six guns I'd like to share if you would be so kind as to indulge me.

A little history about my father first, He's a Korean war vet (2nd Division, 38 infantry regiment 1950-1953) CIB, two purple hearts, Silver and Bronze star recipient among others) He has hunted his entire life, collects firearms and is an all around outdoors men. He has recently retired from his job of 50 years working with underprivileged kids from broken homes in an all boys school that he himself attended as a child. all in all he has spent all but 9 years of his entire life associated with the school. Originally an all military school is now only a minor part of it.

Along with his normal position (director of student activities) he also served as the schools camp director. The camp is located in northern WI. (Sawyer Co.), the camp along with the land was donated to the school many years ago It's nestled on the East Fork of the Chippewa River, a beautiful place indeed. Being the camp directors son me and my brothers spent all of our summers growing up in the north woods from 6 months old till young adults.

Now the bears.........

The first encounter he had was way back before I was born......it was the late spring of 1963 he was at camp finishing up the chores for the day and getting ready to turn in for the night. He had shot a snapping turtle earlier in the day with his trusty Ruger .22mag Single Six and had the turtle outside to dry out the shell. The guts were in a garbage can right below it (the shell was on the roof of a low garage) and some of the blood was dripping out of the cans.

It was late and dark out. The camp at this time had only crude electric service so there were no outdoor lights installed yet. He was about to turn off the garage lights when he noticed his Ruger hanging on a rail and thought "I might as well bring it up to the cabin". He slung the western rig over his right shoulder and closed to door. As he rounded to corner of the garage on his way to the cabin at the top of the gravel hilled road into camp (approx 75yds away) he noticed two sets of eyes in the moon light and knew right there and then what it was. Two cubs were licking the blood off of the can and trying to get into it for the turtle end trails.

No sooner did this all register when he heard the unmistakable sound of a bear running at him her claws digging at the gravel as she approached at full speed! He started to back up toward the lake and reached for his only chance, his sixgun on his hip..........it wasn't there, it was slung over his shoulder! As he fumbled to release the leather strap from the hammer to free the pistol the bear was close enough to smell. Instinctively he pulled the pistol pointed it in the direction of the sound and smell, eared back the hammer on the Ruger and pulled the trigger.

BLAM! the muzzle flash showed the eerie sight of a huge sow closing in on him. The bear rolled in font of him only to get to her feet and continue her charge not even skipping a beat....BLAM!.....BLAM! he fired again and again all the while backpedaling to allow some space between him and an angry set of teeth and claws hell bent on his destruction!. The bear rolled but again got up. By this time he found himself sliding down the steep bank down to the waters edge. His back bumped up against a big tree that was growing in the middle of the bank, as he slid to the water side of the trunk he heard the bear slam into the top side. The bear started to reach around the tree with her massive razor sharp claws trying to get a hold of the person causing her pain. This life and death game of "ring around the Rosie's" played on for a couple rotations around the tree. Finally seeing an opportunity, my father reached around the other side of the tree, put the pistol to the bear and BLAM! let another.22mag round into her.

Knowing he was running out of real estate (and ammo) he knew what he had to do. He dug the handle of the pistol into the ground and pulled himself back up the bank not knowing if the bear was right on his heels or dead. As he got to the top and started to make his way to the cabin to retrieve his 44-40 rifle, a person with a flash light runs up to him to ask what was going on. It was a truck driver who earlier in the day had brought in food and supplies for the upcoming camping season for all of the kids who would be arriving at the camp along with the rest of the staff.

Explaining what happened my father asked the driver to get into his truck and aim the lights onto the tree in the middle of the bank. The driver did and upon his return from the cabin (with his rifle) found that the mother had rounded up the cubs and treed them above her. She was at about 15ft up and the cubs slightly higher. They were all in the lights of the truck and he could tell she was bleeding badly.

Knowing what he had to do a well placed shot sent the bear tumbling down the tree and down the bank below the lights of the truck into the pitch black darkness of the waters edge. Not wanting any more excitement for the evening and very sure a well placed shot was made it was decided to "investigate" in the morning.

After first light sure enough the bear was right where she fell by the waters edge. After a few calls to the game warden the whole issue was figured out with no charges or citations issued. It was deemed (as it should have been) an act of self defense. The cubs hung around camp for a few days then wandered of to fend for themselves. This encounter no doubt was due to the cubs but it was the last thing my father expected. My father only ended up needing 20 stitches in his left leg and 4 on his right arm. His clothes were ripped and other minor cuts and scrapes but all in all he came through the ordeal fairly unscathed. You can still see the scars to this day on his leg.

The bear was taken by the warden where it was weighed and measured. I can't remember the exact numbers but I know she was close to 6ft and weighed in at 350+lbs which is very big for a Wisconsin sow bear especially in the late spring/early summer.


Encounter #2


Years later (mid 70's) he again had to kill a rogue bear that was coming into camp. This bear however was a completely different situation from his first encounter. The difference this time was the camp was full of kids and staff and this bear was very big and very old. My dad had scared it off on two other occasions with a shot gun but the bear kept returning. He phoned the warden (same one) to inform him of the situation. The warden told my dad that they would send someone out to dispatch the bear but if came into camp and was a threat to any of the kids before they could get to it, it was ok to kill the bear. My father showed restrain on the two other occasion the bear had come into camp. Not wanting to arbitrarily shoot a bear he was hoping to run it off with bird shot. So far it had worked on two occasions. The camp however is pretty spread out and the cabins take a while to get to on foot so he was a little uneasy about the bear willingly coming back into camp.

Well the bear indeed came back later that day at just about dusk. It had got in between a camper and one of the two "wash houses" on the grounds. I remember like it was yesterday my father running out toward the bear with a shotgun in one hand and a Ruger .44mag SBH strapped to his hip. Our dog (German Shepherd) was going crazy trying to get at the bear. He (the dog) had treed the bear the day before only to have the bear come down the tree and attack the dog but the Shepherd was too fast for the bear and was able to tree him again. (the dog weighed in at about 135lbs....big shepherd) My oldest brother was holding back the dog at my father's request while we all stood back and watched what unfolded.

There's my father standing about 25yds away from this bear who is growling and popping his jaws at him, circling to his left the bear was posturing for an attack! My father raised the shotgun and fired over the bears head in an effort to scare him off like he had in the days preceding........nothing, again he shot only this time right in front of the bear causing dirt and rocks to fly up into the bears face again nothing, the bears resolve was unshakable.

The bear had decided to make this afternoon his last stand. He started toward my father, as said, my dad being a hunter himself and having served in the army as a front line infantryman for three years in Korea was no stranger to danger. Having faced much more difficult and life threatening moments in the war and from his first bear attack, he was as calm as could be. He dropped the shotgun and drew his pistol. This time though his weapon was very much up to the task at hand, and with one shot from his Ruger he dropped the bear in his tracks! I was in awe.......

Again a call was made to the warden and again the killing was justified. I don't remember the exact size of this bear either but my dad said it was "much bigger than the big sow that tried to eat me years ago." He was able to keep the bear, unfortunately the pelt was ruined in a water leak some years ago but I've got the skull here in my office, it's big! I love my dad and I hope he sticks around for another 79 years.

Thanks for reading......
 

SAJohn

Hunter
Joined
Jan 6, 2007
Messages
2,300
Location
Terrebonne, Oregon, USA
The Army doesn't just give out Silver Stars. That is quite a father you have. BigJ, your stories were not only very entertaining but also extremely well written.
John
 

BigJ71

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
Messages
100
Location
Illinois
SAJohn":2syp03m8 said:
The Army doesn't just give out Silver Stars. That is quite a father you have. BigJ, your stories were not only very entertaining but also extremely well written.
John

Thanks all for your posts. The first encounter I tried to write it like I heard it from him many times although my story pales in comparison to the way he tells it. There's actually more to it. You see he hadn't called my mother in a few days (she was to arrive with the rest of the staff about a week later) and the only phone in camp at that time was in the dining hall so he never heard it ring. When he finally got around to calling her she was so mad at him she told him "I hope you get eaten by a bear!" :D ...the attack was that night! :shock: The other encounter I witnessed and it was so surreal, I just stood there with my mouth open wide in utter amazement of this man....my dad standing toe to toe with this angry bruin. I can't even remember if I was scared or not, I was about 8-9 years old at the time (I think it was 1973 or 74) as it all happened so quick.

SAJohn,

He is truly a great man and my hero no doubt. He doesn't speak much about the war but his citations are well documented. His quick thinking, knowledge of warfare tactics and fighting spirit kept him and his platoon alive and safe behind enemy lines for 3 days evading capture and giving the North Koreans (and Chinese) hell until the push from the US forces caught up to them. He told me that there was "No way we were going to get captured, hell we were on the offensive!" He said they hid when they had to and fought when they could. By the time they were reached they were already to the point of "fix bayonets" as there ammo was completely gone. He and others also got very sick (almost died) from drinking the rice patty water but during the summer it was drink something or die. Luckily this was just a few weeks before he was to finally rotate home after serving "Truman's year" his third when he was only supposed to be there two.

He was so sick he had to hide his eyes (jaundice) in order to get on the ship home, he knew he'd be sent to Japan had they known he was that bad. He had already spent some time in Japan recovering from being blown up by a mortar. Along with all his cuts, bruises, concussion, etc... the blast sent him flying on to a .50 cal M2 that was white hot from battle. He had skin graphs taken from his legs and sewn onto his arms. He was supposed to stay in the hospital (in Japan) but he figured "I can walk...I'll go see the sights!" Well after the MP's found him and gave him a hard time about being AWOL my father ever the rebel told them to piss off (not those words) When the MP's threatened him with a Court Marshall and a trip to Leavenworth, my dad replied "Leavenworth Kansas?? as in the USA?? Hell send me there!" They asked him what unit he was with and when he told them, they said..."No, you're going back up to the front!" Like I said he almost died on the trip home but he made it and spent a few months in an Army hospital in SF. There's no doubt in my mind (and obviously the Army's) he went above and beyond. While very small in stature 5'6" he is and always will be larger than life to me.

I got all the size in my family (6'4" 325lbs) and I put it to good use playing in the NFL as an offensive linemen. My carer was cut short by injuries and after I tried to enlist but couldn't pass the Army physical either. If it weren't for football I would have followed in my father's footsteps out of high school no doubt. My hat goes off and my sincerest thank you to all who serve or have served. I also bow my head and say a prayer for all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. I know my dad thinks about his friends he left behind every day of his life.....such a burden to carry with you all those years. It's all you soldiers who keep us safe and help sustain our wonderful way of life.

Here's a pic of him sometime in the late 50's when I was just a twinkle in his eye!

Thanks for looking!

Dad.jpg


That's an original 1858 Remington Army he's holding...he still has it. :D
 

1RugerFan_33

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 9, 2008
Messages
259
Location
Manitowoc, WI
+1 for all that's been said here concerning you and your father, BigJ71, and many kudos for him, for all he did for this country...

As for those bears...funny, how what goes around comes around...my folks now reside in the Northern part of WI, and those bears sure are a problem, once again. My Dad had an encounter with one a few years back among many; the times have changed, and I will never view our states DNR the same. I know of others, too, who have legal troubles after bear encounters, in that region.

I s'pose it will take a mauling before anyone realizes that the bear population has become a "problem" there, in the northern part of the state.

I am glad your father had no such dificulties in his dealings, and lived to tell of them...
 

alukban

Bearcat
Joined
Sep 26, 2007
Messages
64
Location
NW Connecticut, USA
...is to be half the man that men like your fathere were.

I've got a one year old boy now and I keep thinking I'm just not good enough father-material quite yet. I'll keep working on it.

Thanks for the story. It is pure gold :)
 

BigJ71

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
Messages
100
Location
Illinois
Colonel Daddy":u6karibe said:
Great stories! Sounds like your Pop was, and prolly still is, a tough man!!

Thanks guys......

Colonel, I couldn't even start to describe him :D . I'll give you one short story to kinda get a glimpse of the internal fortitude he has.......

About 30 years ago (I was about 13) he had decided to go horseback riding with some friends after all night at the bar with them. :shock: Well as luck would have it my dad's horse decides to rear up (I'm sure it was operator error :wink: ) and flip over on him sending the saddle horn through the inside of his right thigh! Does he go to the hospital??? Nope, he comes home (3:00am) and gets my mom to gather up all the bandages she could find and he stuffs them into to half dollar sized hole in his leg!!

Now here's the real nasty part....for days after this he would redress the bandages himself and every time he took off an old blood soaked bandage, before putting on a new one he would pour rubbing alcohol into the wound to "kill the germs!" :shock: It had to hurt like hell, heck it hurt me just to watch him pour that stuff on it! he walked around with a cane for a few weeks never skipping a beat.

That is just one of many many stories and memories I have of him. Even to this day at 79 he's still active and still enjoys his Scotch and water. My mom's a saint for putting up with him all these years but deep down I think she just loves the way he is. She has said over the years that she always feel safe when he's around, even to this day.

He grew up on the south side of Chicago dirt poor with absolutely nothing, during the depression years. He would steal cheese and milk from the horse drawn wagons that used to deliver it to the homes by throwing rocks at the horse. When the driver would get down to calm the horse he and his buddies would sneak to the back and take what they wanted. Some days it was all he had to eat for he entire day. You see his parents split (father took off) when he was just a baby and his mother died when he was nine, which was when he started smoking btw :shock: .

After she passed, he was sent to the boys school and besides his stint in the war has spent his entire life with the school, most of it helping kids throughout the years that were just like him when he was young. He has said more than once that the school saved his life, as without the structure he needed, his life would have ended up badly.

I have two older brothers and we are all still close to this day although one lives in NC now. I still get together with him (my dad) and play poker, talk about guns (we both collect) and just shoot the breeze. We have all given him grandsons and daughters and he just loves playing with them and telling stories. I'm a lucky guy to have a dad like him.........no doubt. I can only wish to be half the man he was/is.......
 

RVN11B40

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Messages
100
Location
Missouri, USA
Take this as a very serious suggestion.

Write up all of this stuff and more in to a book!

Hell! Better yet, make it a screen play!!!!
 

Pinecone

Blackhawk
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Messages
970
Location
Maine
bigJ71, Great stories and a great Dad evidently. I,ve got a black bear right out behind my place (about 225 lbs I'de say) and so far he's behaving himself. I don't wander back there though without my Security-Six!....................................Dick
 

Mountaineer

Bearcat
Joined
Oct 18, 2007
Messages
3
Wonderful stories. Thank you. You have quite a father, and you are justifiably proud of him.

At the end of my days, if my son has half the love and admiration for me that you have for your Dad, I will consider myself very fortunate, indeed.

Please convey our best wishes.
 

BigJ71

Single-Sixer
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
Messages
100
Location
Illinois
Thank you all for your kind words.....

I had to resurrect this thread because over the weekend I was talking to my dad and the conversation somehow turned to the bear attacks. I told him I posted the stories about him on here and he just laughed and said "I doubt anyone wants to read about that stuff". To him it was just another day in the north woods.

Anyway he goes into his gun room and comes out with the SBH he used to kill the bear and gives it to me. As a gun collector this piece to him is just a tool that he used, not part of his collection. To me it has become instantly one of the most cherished guns in my collection, not because of what it is but because who's it was!

Here's a pic. It's a 1973 SBH, smooth trigger, recessed cylinder New Model. Some honest holster wear at the muzzle but in good shape otherwise.

This is the gun and the skull.

RugerSkull3.jpg
 

BIgMuddy

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
550
Location
Linn Creek MO
I remembered the story from last year and thought it was great then.....and now a fitting "rest of the story". Make sure your dad knows we ALL like reading that kind of stuff.

Great looking SBH too. You can't buy that kind of "background" on a gun.
 

americal

Hunter
Joined
Feb 19, 2009
Messages
2,174
Location
Alabama, Athens
Your father is the REAL DEAL :!: :!: KOREA was A cold nasty war I saw two guys in our company get SILVER STARS gotta go were most men or women won"t go---or just put situation out of mind and do it :shock: same with BRONZE STAR :!: great stories better write them down 8)
 

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