“Where did you get those bears?”

Bears in the yard
A couple of years earlier, one neighbor had been shooting bears all summer and I asked him if he would let us have one for sausage. He said he would. One morning, he woke us up, he had a dead bear in the back of his pickup, and did we still want one? We said” Sure” and he dumped it by the cabin.
My daughter and I dressed and were just started skinning when the neighbor was back. Do you want another bear? We said “Why not?” When he was walking back down to his cabin, another bear ran around the corner and almost ran into him. He shot it.
We skinned out both bears, her first time skinning anything, and quartered them. We spread clean sheets on the backseat of my old crewcab and loaded the meat, salted the hides, rolled them and put them in the back of the truck and headed for town.
Charlie was working at Pump Station 7 at that time, setting up the power house. In camp, the men had a habit of starting rumors in the morning and see if they could recognize their own rumors that evening. That very morning, Charlie told the group at his table that I had woke up in the night to see a bear in the cabin by the stove and shot it from bed, then as I started to get up another one came through the back door and I jumped up on the bed and shot it as it ran by. No one questioned how he knew all of this, as there were no phones or radio between our areas. They just laughed and said “Sure, Charlie”, as they knew I did mine on out the road another 80 or so miles.
Before noon, I pulled up at the gate where the security guard was stationed to have him let Charlie know I would be at home that night. He looked down into my pickup from his perch and spotted the hides in back and the fresh meat in the backseat. His eyes got a little bugged out and he asked what I had. I told him, “A couple of bears”.
That man didn’t even wait to let someone take his seat in the guard shack, he took off running down the hill into camp, yelling, “It’s true, it’s true.”
By the time Charlie came home that evening, I had all the meat ground up and in three piles on the counter and was working different spices into each pile. I made summer sausage, pepperoni and salami. Charlie eyed the meat but didn’t say anything.
The next morning, I took him out to work and as I was coming home, the rest of the crew were honking and waving at me out their car windows as we passed. Very friendly bunch.
By that evening when I drove out to pick him up, even the large trucks were honking at me as they met me on the road. Hmmm, they are always friendly, but not quite this much.
By the time I was done making sausage and went back out to mine, almost every rig on the road was flashing lights and waving at me. I sent some of the sausage to work with Charlie to share at camp.
Just before Christmas, one of the men that had worked at the camp that summer stopped by our house in town. He asked if we had any of that sausage he could send to his elderly father for Christmas as his Dad had always wanted to try bear meat.
Charlie went down in the basement to check in the freezer for some and while he was gone, the man told me, “You know, when Charlie first told us that story, we all thought it was just another rumor getting started even though it was better than most.”
For once, I didn’t spoil Charlie’s stories and kept my mouth shut and just smiled. I didn’t have a clue.
After the man left, Charlie looked at me and said he probably should explain what the man meant? Then he told me what he had done. We laughed a little and I started getting dinner. He looked at me a minute or two, then, “Just where did you get those bears?”

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