By Bob Jamison

          “WOOOOAH! WOOOOAH YOU CRAZY @!!!. Don’t you know horses can’t run down hill, especially down a mountain side that’s way above the timber line”? I guess he didn’t catch on as he went literally hell bent for leather straight down the mountain. I can’t really blame him in a way. Actually, he didn’t consider who was on top, me or a Grizzly Bear. In fact it was a little of both. 

          When I approached Spooky on that mountain top, I couldn’t help but notice his give away gesture. Like ears lying back flat on his neck and he was ‘white-eying me, big time. As you know, ‘white-eying’ is somewhat like some wives do when their skeptical eyes roll so far to one side that almost nothing is showing but white.

         Why on earth would Spooky think I was a bear? Well, I could (and should) blame my old hunting partner, the famous Bill Bailey, master of ceremonies, singer of songs, radio personality and besides having a beautiful wife, the last but not least, the top of law enforcement, Constable Bill Bailey of Precinct 8, Harris County, Texas. Well, that’s enough of that. It’s still his fault.

         Along with the stealth tracker Willie, our fearless Indian guide, we were way up in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada, stalking an unusually large Grizzly. Though he didn’t smoke, Willie kept a lit cigarette in front of him as we walked silently behind him over rocky and frozen mountain turf. If the smoke went in the direction of the bear’s acute sense of smell, we would hit the dirt and lie still. It was Bill’s turn to shoot (we won’t go into why, after all, it was supposed to be MY shot).

         “When we get to within seventy five steps of the bear we three will lie down side by side with guns off safety. Don’t move after Bill shoots. He’ll get you if you run because a bear can out run a horse. Bill, no head shots, neck shots, no gut shots; just break bones, shoot for the shoulder bones because he’ll be headed our way with blood in his eyes”, Willie warned as we took positions. Willie was not wrong.
Momentarily there was a blood curdling scream when the great boom was heard from Bill’s 7mm Magnum. The bear reared up on his hind feet, the sight of which might remind you of a great bull running on his hind legs toward towards us. In two gigantic leaps he cleared half the distance to our guns that were on the ready. Then he dropped dead and rolled a ways down the mountain. It had been a perfect shot.
It was getting late. Our base camp (a sheet of canvas over a horizontal pole) was near the bottom of the mountain.Willie told Bill to walk back about a quarter mile where we tied the horses while I helped skin the bear and help Willie load the skin (with paws and head on, it was very heavy). I asked Bill, “What did you do to my horse. He looks like (from which he got his current name, Spooky) he’s spooked about something.”

          “Do you think it could have anything to do with all that bear grease on your coveralls and gloves??,” Bill asked. I should have a picture of the expression on that horse’s face. His chin was on his chest, his back humped up and he was two-stepping around big rocks to get away from me. Then I knew I was in trouble. The timber line on a mountain is too high for anyone from the gulf coast of Texas to breathe well so I couldn’t walk that far to our line camp. I had to ride old Spooky.

          With reins tight and my left hand and my hand on the pummel, I turned Spooky around so I would be on the up side of him and leaped on with only the left stirrup engaged. The sound barrier was close to breaking as Spooky and I ‘flew’ down toward the tree line with the bit firmly in his teeth. I was jerking the reins and speaking firmly in loud tones when I finally got Spooky stopped. Bill and Willie took the trail ahead so I could control that scared horse a little better.

          With a song in his heart, Bill rode merrily ahead composing. “Here we are riding the trail with Bob and his brave steed Spooky”. I think it was to the tune of “A hot time in the old town tonight”.

          Then Bill’s horse walked over a bush that flew up and hit Spooky right in the face. I saw the Northern Lights so close I could touch them and then, as I was enjoying them, I hit the ground.

          Two more times that dark night I kissed that beautiful Canadian soil before we rode into camp. Lucky I had so many clothes on for the cold that I wasn’t hurt a bit; maybe my feelings as the singer and comedian continued the impromptu ballad, “Bronco Bob and his wonder horse Spooky”.