Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DANGER!: Grizzlies Seized My Imagination

I am currently working on a book of Montana bear stories for Riverbend Publishing which is due in February, 2014.  The book is a followup to my friend Ben Long's wonderful book, "Great Montana Bear Stories" published in 2002.  Riverbend sums the book up as such:

“'Bears seize our imaginations quite unlike any other animal,' writes Montana author Ben Long. 'Why are we so fascinated by bears?' In 'Great Montana Bear Stories' you’ll find out why. Here are dozens of exciting and instructive stories about grizzly bears and black bears and the people who encounter them. Carefully researched and skillfully written, these stories involve hikers, campers, ranchers, hunters, wildlife biologists and many others who came face-to-face with Montana bears. Some are comical, others tragic, some inspiring, and others simply terrifying. Whether you like bears or simply like incredible true stories, 'Great Montana Bear Stories' will keep you reading page after page."

Grizzly bears seized my imagination at an early age, long before I roamed the wilds of Montana and had my own close encounters and experiences with the Great Bear; long before grizzlies, in no small way, helped save my life (see How Grizzlies Made Me Gay).  Recently, while going through an old box marked "Dave's Stuff" that my mother had saved over the years, I came upon a book report I wrote in April of 1974 at the age of 13 while attending Long Lots Junior High School in Westport, Connecticut. Here it is:

David Stalling
English 7


Title: Danger
Author: Ben East

Danger contains many stories, twenty three in all, and they are all true adventures that took place in the outdoors. The book tells how people got into dangerous situations and how they used their wisdom to survive. Some men found strength and courage they never knew they had in order to survive.

My favorite story was, "This Grizzly Climbed." It is about a man who was studying plant life and working on his master's degree in botany. He was in Mt. McKinley National Park taking sample borings from to determine their age. Without any warning, a grizzly started after him. He climbed the nearest tree and wasn't too worried for he knew he would be safe as grizzly bears don't climb trees. He was nearly ten feet up the tree before he looked down. He was terrified when he saw the snarling grizzly scrambling after him and climbing fast. He felt the bear grab his leg and its teeth tore his skin and muscle. The bear fell but quickly climbed again and this time his teeth bit hard into his thigh. The man was so frightened he didn't feel any pain. The bear fell again and this time did not try to climb again. The animal waited on the ground for the man to come down. The man could see his car and knew that only 300 yards of forest separated him from safety. When the bear went into the woods the man knew he would have to try to reach the car and help. He was now in terrible pain, but decided he had to get down before he got weaker. He got into his car after what seemed like a lifetime, and blew his horn until help came.

The author, Ben East, has hunted with gun and camera, fished, camped, traveled wilderness trails, ridden white-water rivers, and has written about sportsmen for Outdoor Life. He has interviewed the people he wrote about in "Danger" and checked their stories with newspapers, police blotters and hospital records.

Anyone who likes to read about high adventure and narrow escapes would enjoy reading "Danger."  

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