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Campfire Capers: There's a Bear in Your Truck

The site we called Stough's Point was part of a larger "camping" area which was actually a state park. During the times we camped there, the park had not yet been developed into the fairly typical layout of rows of pull-ins with hook ups and modern conveniences like showers and toilets and laundry facilities. It was then, in a word, "rustic." What it is now, we do not know because the group no longer camps and fishes with regularity. We currently hold our campfires at a local franchised eatery once a month--you know, a genuine ROMEO experience. Well, as I hadn't yet started to say...on one of our trips, we had a camper from a nearby site (about a quarter of a mile away) drift by at breakfast to ask us if we "heard that bear" the night before. None of us had, but we were very interested in the prospect of such wildlife being in our proximity. At that point, a number of "bear" stories broke out while we finished chowing down on eggs and bacon, toast and coffee. (Can you smell that bacon and fresh campfire brewed coffee?)

After a day of beating the water in search of the perch (or the walleye or the smallmouths or anything that would bite), we looked forward to an evening of campfire chatter, mutual agitation, and cold beer, all wrapped around the hopes of hearing, seeing, even smelling a "bear."

The evening produced a lot of laughs, some new lore for future telling (someone asked Muskie what time it was, and he dutifully checked his watch with a quick flick of his wrist, immediately draining the full mug of beer he had been holding), and some lectures on bear behavior from Gasser. With a crystal clear sky sucking the wispy smoke and few remaining flickering flames straight up into the air, we

shuffled off to the various truck "beds" for one of those deep, I'm-so-totally-wiped-out, good night's sleeps.

About three o'clock in the morning, Gasser and I were roused up by someone's frantic pounding on Dave's truck side. "Hey, man, there's a bear in one of your trucks! Hurry!" yelled the guy who had visited us at breakfast, pointing up the slope to the green Chevy pick-up that indeed belonged to one of our guys.

We quickly heard what he was talking about as a loud rumbling snort filled the air. We rushed quietly, like kids trying to sneak up on a couple making out in the back seat, wanting to get there quickly but not wanting to run into danger face first. About ten yards short of the truck we stopped cold, looked at each other then the stranger, and broke down laughing. "Buddy, that's not a bear. That's Muskie snoring; that's why he sleeps up here alone." As we explained matters to the concerned fellow camper, Muskie continued blasting away, snoring so loud that the windows in his camper rattled. Gasser, of course, explained to our "savior" that Muskie had a serious septum problem and limited hearing in his right ear. So, he could sleep with himself and not keep himself awake all night. No one else could endure that

At breakfast the next morning, Gasser and I asked the other guys if they had heard "that bear" last night. Everyone but Muskie said, no, but reported hearing someone pounding on Gasser's truck yelling about a bear somewhere. Muskie just yawned and said, "Man, I didn't hear anything." Such are life's little ironies.

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