We finally rebuilt the Lean-To today. Well, actually we built a Tee-Pee. Not a good one yet, as we have no animal hide to cover it with.
"Hmm. We need Bear"
I stopped working on tying poles and look at Jesse, Aka, "Winter Hawk" now.
"Do what? I wasn't really paying attention and thought you said Bear"
"Not Big Bear," he said, pointing at me, and motioning with his hands, "A Big BIG Bear"
"Exactly how do you plan to get a big, BIG Bear?"
He smiled. "Winter Hawk know how"
"Oh really...Well, I'm not going this time!" I turn and start tying the poles again. "I have had enough of these shenanigans, and after the last time out...Do you remember the Badger?" I ask turning around now. "Do you remember what HE did?!? No, I will have none of it. Count me out!"
Later in the day...
"Are you sure this will work?" I ask as he ties the rope around me. "Winter Hawk know this work. Winter Hawk plan perfect. When Bear comes, He smell meat on you. When he run at you, Big Bear, I pull rope, you go up tree, big BIG Bear fall in hole we dig."
He starts hanging meat around my neck, left over cow and beaver. The rope was tied under my arms, and thrown over a large tree limb above. We had dug a pit, which I was to stand in front of. I look down into the pit behind me and then up at the tree limb.
"Will that thing hold me?" I ask. Winter Hawk looks up, scratching his chin. "We find out soon." I start to protest, still looking up at the limb, and when I look back down, he is gone. Just vanished. "You an Indian or a Ninja?!?" I yell.
He said he knew a bear were here. He had found droppings...Big droppings. That didn't put my mind at ease. It was then that I got to thinking.
"Wait a minute. I weigh too much for him to pull me up, even with the leverage from the tree..." I reach for the rope around me to untie it when I hear the growl from the forest. I stop just a moment in shock, then fear sets in and my hands work frantically now to get the rope off, but it won't budge.
"What did you do?!?! GET ME OUT OF THIS ROPE!" I hear his voice somewhere in the background.
"I tie strangle knot. Have to cut rope off. Not want you to fall"came the reply from the woods.
I just stand there dumbfounded, frozen in fear, as the bushes start moving as something comes through them. I close my eyes, waiting for the Bear to run up and tear me to shreds. I hear the growl again...Not the same growl...I open one eye to see what had come out of the brush.
"oh no....pull the rope...PULL THE ROPE!...PULL THE ROPE!!!!!"
The Badger lunges at me. I could have sworn he was smiling. Suddenly I am lifted high in the air, the Badger just misses me and falls into the pit below. I dangle there, looking down and screaming like a high pitched siren.
Winter Hawk steps from behind a tree. and looks into the pit.
"That not Bear..." He says.
Once I calm down just a bit, I ask, "Jesse...I mean, Winter Hawk...What's holding the rope?" He is still looking down as he answers. "Oh, I tie off on tree branch"
That was when I heard the cracking sound. Not loud at first, just a slow strain of wood. I look around, then back down at Winter Hawk.
"How big was the branch, Jesse..."
"SNAP!" Was the next sound I heard.
The tree branch gave in to the weight as I shoot straight down into the pit. I land hard on the bottom, dazed and it takes me a few moments to slowly sit up and get my bearings back. Meanwhile, the tree branch, from the inertia brought on by the strain that was put on the rope, clears the limb above, falling into the pit and hitting me in the head. I grab my head with both hands from the pain, yelling a few choice words.
It was then I felt the stare. I open my eyes, which had been winced in pain, to see the Badger on the other side of the pit. He was just standing there looking at me.
My spear suddenly sticks in the ground beside me as I hear Winter Hawk from above.
"You stab Badger, I pull up rope!"
I did not know that it was physically possible for a Badger could crack his knuckles.
Winter Hawk later told me the screams and yells of agony were almost too much even for him to endure. I believe my mind has blocked out the experience soley for the purpose of self preservation.
There was a stabbing in the pit that day...The badger stabbing his claws into my backside while I tried to climb the side of the pit. The Badger stabbing his pointy teeth into me. The Badger using me for a pin cushion for every sharp object he had on his body. I have seen logging accidents that were not as brutal as the beating that was dished out that day.
Once Winter Hawk got me pulled up, the Badger was still hanging on my back, I was told. Over the fire that night, as I lay there in agonizing pain, Winter Hawk recanted the story.
"Badger not like you much. You knocked out when I get you to top. Badger jump up and down on your head, like trampoline, wipe feet on you, walk into forest. Never seen Badger wipe feet before"
I wanted to reply, to say something, anything, but I couldn't. My throat was still sore from the Badger stuffing my own leg in my mouth.
"We get Bear next time" says Winter Hawk as he pats my sore head and I draw back with pain and moan slightly.