Spirit Deer 17

Tim hobbled to the aspen and cut a palm sized square of bark. With this to protect his hand from the tiny chips of volcanic glass, he pressure flaked the blades into shape using the point of his knife, working slowly and removing hundreds of tiny chips. The finished product had a smooth concavity down the length of one side where a previous flake had been removed and a rough concavity down the other side. It was crude, but it would serve.

The squirrel had been simmering all this time. The smell made it hard for Tim to concentrate on his work. Now he removed the carcass from the water. He tore at the meat with his fingers, removing most of the bones and setting them aside. Then he added pine nut flour and stirred. The broth thickened, the smell thickened, and when he could wait no longer, he ate, shoveling the stew into his mouth with a large splinter from his whittling.

When it was entirely gone, he refilled his bark basket with water, dropped in the other half of the carcass, and set it beside the fire to boil again.

Tim took time to slash the bark of a pine sapling in a dozen places so pitch would ooze out. The pitch would not come as readily in October as it would have in summer, but he hoped to get enough to set his spear and arrow points. Then he returned to the fire and worked steadily into the night.

Chapter 6

Hunger stalked the black bear, fueling his rage. He had eaten the leaves of willows, the inner bark from several pines, and had torn several rotting logs apart for the grubs within, but this alone could not supply his body’s needs. His sense of smell was almost entirely gone, and without it he could not find the food he needed.

Hunger and pain-fueled rage drove him back to the lower hills three nights later. He approached the scene of his downfall with care. He raised his head and instinctively tested the air, but it did him no good. His eyes saw only the usual dim shapes and his ears were spread wide. Somewhere ahead a pig squealed. It was a high pitched, momentary sound. The bear paced nervously. Hunger drove him on, while caution and the strangeness of the scentless night held him back.

Now he could catch some scent. Even his torn nose could register the smell of a pig pen at close range, and he could sense the ripe carrion smell of rotting flesh. Pushing forward to the point where he had broken through the pig pen fence before, he found it repaired. He pressed his muzzle through a square of wire and sniffed uselessly.

He heard a sharp metallic click. He paused cautiously, but the sound was not repeated and he had no way of knowing that it was the sound of a Winchester being brought to full cock.

The pig that he had killed lay rotting in the yard. Flies swarmed about it. The light from an electric light bulb mounted at the barn eaves fell across the body of the pig.

The black bear was wary and cunning, but he was not human. He could not know that no farmer would leave a rotting carcass in his yard, nor did he know that the electric light had only been placed there two days before.

The old farmer was waiting. He had sat through last night, and he had already sat several hours in silence tonight. He had left his shotgun inside, and sat in the shadow of his porch with a rifle across his knees. more tomorrow


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