From " Rabbit Stompin' "

 

Bear Man Of The Okefenokee

 

The swamp is, at last, quiet and still. Even the formerly welcome breeze has died to a whisper, taking with it the rustling and rattling of leaves and limbs. The hunter is thankful for that silence as he closes his eyes, takes a hollow, rasping breath and channels all the powers of his senses into hearing only. In front of him stretches a veritable wall of scrub pines and palmettos strangling in the grasp of a woven fabric of vines and briars. The area is part of that near-impenetrable morass known as the Okefenokee Swamp, and it is the closest thing to heaven for the secretive wildlife hidden within its borders. A member of that animal clan is what the man with the gun is listening for. His hands tremble with excitement, anticipation and more than a little apprehension as he maintains a death grip on the oily-smooth stock of the .30-06. The gun wafts the sharp odor of 3-in-1 oil, pleasant but seemingly out of place among the brittle-dry scent of the drought-seared swamp in south Georgia's mild autumn. The familiar aromatic mixture goes wandering aimlessly through his mind as he stands stump-still, the hot, gleaming-white sand of a lonely logging road searing through thin boot bottoms. It's so peaceful that one could almost doze off standing up. But suddenly the hunter's mind is jolted back to reality with what feels like 200 volts of adrenalin-induced shock. There comes a yammering of dogs from deep within the scrub; then, minutes later, the sound of them turning... turning his way. Breath comes rasping shallower, chest tightening, entire being locked into the tableau before him. There's no doubt now: the battle is coming right at him. With incredible speed and power, the bear rumbles through the thick tangle of the Okefenokee like a hairy 55-gallon drum down a mountainside. It kicks up logs, bushes and dust with equal ease while racing ahead of the lunging pack of dogs. Things are just too tangled to get a glimpse of it, but the man waiting by the trail knows it's there. And suddenly, just like in the hunter's dreams... or nightmares... the big black is in the open. It looks so much larger... and more menacing... than those behind the cold concrete walls of Atlanta's zoo, a couple hundred miles and a century or two of progress up the road. The animal hauls up short like a dog on a chain as it realizes there's that sliver of road to cross, and that its cover will momentarily vanish. The massive head swings to the right, and the burning slits of the bruin's eyes, red with rage, lock with those of the man, clearly sending a marrow-chilling message over the 20 yards that separate the two. For the hunter, as well as the bear, it's now or never...

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"Daryl's typewriter is a magical thing; it takes you right into the woods."   Ludlow Porch