He slipped through the undergrowth so quietly he could not even hear himself. Sliding between pine boughs and carefully stepping over little twigs, which would have given his presence away by an out of place crack, he stealthily crept. Step by step...stopping between each to survey his total surroundings, for one missed squirrel high in a tree, could betray his stealth. He stopped and pressed his bare back against the bark of a large maple tree. There he stood, motionless...watching,
waiting...looking for the twitch of white or brown. Looking for a horizontal line of a back, which would be out of character for the wooded forest, betraying the presence of the white tailed deer he so skillfully stalked.
Nothing....nothing within sight, at least. Slowly he crept forward, resisting the urge to squash that miserable mosquito that was perched on his forehead...drilling into him to suck his blood. Swatting or simply brushing him away, might be all that was necessary to spook his quarry, if it were standing or lying... watching from afar. He stopped and again, leaned against a tree. Once he surveyed his entire surroundings to insure their was no game in sight, he slowly reached up and squashed the mosquito. Onward he crept, step by step, until a movement caught his keen eye. Something was up in a tree ahead of him. He crept forward, keeping his eyes trained both on his next step and then the tree...a step, then the tree... This he continued in usual fashion until he noted the tree would shake and sway violently from time to time. It was shortly after gaining progress to within a hundred yards, that he finally saw that it was a huge black bear, high in the upper limbs of a white oak tree. The bear was crawling around in the tree, chewing off acorns, a high fat content mast, that bears love and stuff themselves on as they are getting ready for the winter hibernation season. He was amused, so sat down against the trunk of another large tree to watch his antics. It was funny, because he was such a huge bear, trying to maneuver around within the flimsy limbs at the top of the maple tree as it tried to get at the acorns. It surely was a real sight to behold! He would have normally shot the bear on such a hunting expedition, but the bears were not ready to harvest, for it was fall and they had not yet packed on the needed fat for their winter hold over, so were essentially unfit; not the best for consumption as yet....but to watch, was certainly entertaining...so he continued to watch him. The huge bear was grunting and chewing acorns as fast as he could get from one cluster to another, but again...it was not a graceful feat and more than once he almost fell, making the young man laugh to himself.
Soon, he was satisfied and began backing down the main trunk of the tree until he reached the ground. Once on the ground, he began to greedily chomp and chew as many fallen acorns as he could pick up and hold in his mouth, moving to and fro, gathering all he had dropped from above. At one point, he swung around, gathered a large mouthful of acorns and began chewing as he looked directly at his audience of one sitting some distance away, against trunk of that tree. With eyes locked upon one another, it seemed like time stood still and nothing moved and there was no sound. Without grunt, movement or warning, the bear started straight toward Eyes of Eagle, picking up speed until, without veering, the bear would run right into him. It was evident at this point...and with only a mere fifty yards left to react, that the bear was agitated and attacking Eyes of Eagle and would kill him or surely maul him until he would later die of the injury. Still sitting, he nocked an arrow and drew his bow in one fluid motion as he had so many times practiced for just such an occasion. The bear was almost upon him and popping his teeth as he growled a deep guttural scream, when Eyes of Eagle let fly, his wooden projectile tipped with the deadly sharp flint point. Entering the bears open mouth, it severed the spinal cord at the base of the skull, killing the bear instantly as it piled onto Eyes of Eagle’s lap...against the tree. The bear was hot and heavy and had the stench of fish lingering on it as testimony of it’s feasting on salmon from the river recently. Eyes of Eagle pushed with his arms and feet to get out from under the animal as fast as he could, for he did not know of the bears condition and whether it would come to and fight again. Finally he pushed free and scrambled to his feet, jumped behind the tree, where he then drew his knife and reached around the tree, grabbing his bow and remaining arrows...just in case. He nocked another arrow and stepped back from the tree to watch...standing there breathing heavily and shivering from the adrenalin rush of battle. The bear never moved again. It was dead instantly, but Eyes of Eagle didn’t realize that in the heat of battle for his life, his first arrow had found it’s mark of death. Eyes of Eagle dropped to his knees and gave thanks to the great mysterious for his gift of straight aim and courage to react. He then drew his knife again and stripped the hide from the bear, removed the entrails and quartered the meat. He then withdrew a sinew rope and tied the quarters and heisted them high into a tree, one by one...until only the last remained. He pitched his tent cloth and built a fire, placing a wye stick on either side. He then sliced a thick steak of bear meat from the final quarter and skewered it to a long stick, lying it across the wyes to cook. Finally he drew the last quarter up into the tree with the rest. He then prepared to sleep the night and for the next several days he would cut multiple strips of the bear meat, making jerk so he could pack it out and return to his Indian village with the dried bear meat. As the meat cured and dried into jerk, he would tan the bear hide to be used as clothing for the coming winter. For now though, he was looking forward to the cooking steak over the fire and a good nights sleep. Thus was the life of a young Mingo warrior of yesteryear......
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