On the third & last day
of bear season, the hunter returns
to his perch on the boulder
more from habit than any realistic hope.
But every rustle in the leaves
still summons up the childhood
excitement of static on
a shortwave radio: some signal
that might come in, given patience
& a delicate touch.

So when the bear appears,
his breathing scarcely changes,
the rifle rises to his shoulder,
the scope to his eye
& the world
grows closer
by a power of ten,
centered on a plus sign
that moves along the great neck

to the suddenly immobile head,
snout riveted on something
just under the moss.
Then the claw’s shattering descent,
a fountain of dirt.
He watches as
the yellow jackets form
a furious halo.

7 Replies to “Luck”

  1. Hi Dave, I’ve been loathe to leave scribble here of late, but I want to remark that this poem is to me quite informative as concerns the snack of insects the bear, but not the hunter would miss out on, though I wonder if a thoughtful hunter wouldn’t think twice about pulling the trigger on a bear covered in yellowjackets.

    We have bears, but they are more rumored than seen, and they make the paper when they are shot. The latest story was of a homeowner protecting his horse feed and his hound dog. After receiving a dozen or more .22 rounds the invading bear hobbled off a few hundred yards and collapsed — trespassers who destroy property are unwelcome! I think it strange that that singular and rare bear would have had a taste for the fruits of civilization.

    When is bear season out there where you are?

  2. Hi Bill, I was wondering where you disappeared to. My supposition here is that a hunter would not want to bother with a bear in this situation, though perhaps he could shoot it and come back to collect it after dark. So “Luck” refers to the bear rather than the hunter, I think.

    Bears are quite numerous in PA and frequently have run-ins with homeowners. Bear season is in mid-autumn, before they den up. Neither dogs nor hunting over bait are permitted here (which may have something to do with why there are so many bears).

  3. Well then! I’m glad I commented. I wouldn’t of had that reading otherwise. Imagining the hunter’s mindset and how the development of the yellowjacket halo would play to that mindset required a bit of cranking on the old brain pump handle. I don’t generally credit hunters with having a sensibility that would allow them to let a halfway decent shot go by. One of the drawbacks of commenting is that I so often end up scolding myself. In this case: “I should have considered that Dave might be likely to take the point of view of the bear”.

    Would the hunter not take the shot because he was hoping to eat the bear and the meat would spoil by the time the yellowjackets cleared? I’m really not up on my bear hunting basics and I’m beginning to get quite self conscious now–“Bye”!

  4. I love the static

    the “along the great neck” (I was there!)

    the “just under the moss”

    the yellow jackets (and the “furious halo”)

    the whole thing.

  5. Bill – Yeah, bear hunters are interested in the meat, generally speaking. I don’t know how quickly the meat spoils if not gutted right away, but I’m quite sure the yellow jackets would hang around their ravaged hive as long as daylight lasted.

    FWIW, I don’t really approve of hunting bears (or other predators), though I do understand the appeal, I think.

    Peter – I’m glad this worked for you. It wasn’t one of my favorites, though obviously I thought it had its moments or I wouldn’t have posted it.

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