The alder thicket shivered and crackled as Ol' Silvertip thrashed around savagely, searching for the source of my first shot. I cursed the heavy branch that had obscured the killer bear's shoulder in the instant I squeezed off the shot; the 280 - grain jacketed Bore - Lokt slug, pushed by half its weight of H1776 powder, had bulled through the branch but then had mushroomed too fast to penetrate to the old monster's boiler room.
My clammy fingers caressed the hand - checkering on the rich - figured fruitwood stock of my flat - shooting 20 mm Reminchester Model 70 bolt - action Kritter Killer as the uproar in the alders grew louder and nearer. The grizzly snuffled and groaned as he winded me. "Grits Zern," I whispered to myself, "the next shot will tell the tale: bear steaks for you or you steaks for the bear. "
Suddenly he reared up, 17 feet away as guide Gantry Mossback paced it off later, towering 12 feet 9 inches over the thicket, blotting out the cold, pale, low Arctic sun, his tiny pig eyes wild with anger and pain. His early - spring pelt was prime and unrubbed, I noted. The perfectly - balanced rifle leaped unbidden to my shoulder, cheeked itself firmly and . . .
Outdoors lovers, whether hunters, hikers or just woods - watches, too often are faced with such stuff when they read in search of experiences to share. The nonhunting naturalism literature contains some pearls, but they are scattered among shelves of rigidly technical works by scientists or the gushing effluvia of anthropocentrics.
Comes now wildlife photographer and naturalist Les Blacklock, whose endless delight it is to wander the woods and waters of this continent. Stalking with the skill and knowledge he developed in his hunting days but shooting only with his camera now, Blacklock is a delightful enthusiast:
If you want to get somewhere, don't follow a wildlife trail. Moose trails run into bear trails, bear trails into deer trails, deer trails into fox trails, fox trails into rabbit trails, rabbit trails into squirrel trails, and they go up a tree and into a hole.
Canada geese teasing a fox. A mink stockpiling live fish in a forest pool. A moose making a fool of himself with a steel cable that had beenerected in place of the clothesline he was in the habit of breaking down. Several moose making a fool of Les Blacklock. Contesting the right - of - way in a narrow creek with an 80 - pound beaver.
As a writer Blacklock is a great photograher, but the text of his new book does more than serve to keep the pictures apart. And the pictures alone are worth the price of admission ($8.95).
Unfortunately the title of the book is "Meet My Psychiatrist," a bit of cutesy - poo that somebody at Voyageur Press should have shot on the rise. The conceit behind the title is that Blacklock has a favourite deadfall, a centuries - old tree now mouldering in the forest, to which he repairs when his mind is troubled.
The photographs, all in color, show that the cure works. Whether shooting a frosted leaf from 10 inches, a red fox at 10 feet or Mt. Rainier from 10 miles, Blacklock has flawless technique and a sure sense of the cycle of life. The book is the first of a trilogy. Next will come (sob) "Ain't Nature Grand?" and then "Listen to the Land."