Tales from Woodhull Lake: The Day I Almost Shot my Brother
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Tales from Woodhull Lake: The Day I Almost Shot my Brother

My fear of bears has reached a normal and healthy level and I don’t think I would ever need to shoot my brother.

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Tales from Woodhull Lake: The Day I Almost Shot my Brother
Joshua Simon

Dad, Jonathan, and I were hunting at Pinnacle Lodge one Thanksgiving. It was a fairly warm Thanksgiving, and there was no snow on the ground. The woods were still wet. We had seen a lot of sign from deer and had moved through a lot of the lake. This was the first time I got turned around in the woods and pretty worried about being lost.

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods, you know there really isn’t much worse of a feeling, aside from losing someone you love. I was still a pretty young guy, and a green hunter. My father taught me to hunt by moving slowly through the woods, stopping to listen, moving again. I turned that into taking 10 steps, stopping for a minute, and then continuing, clearly establishing the analytical nature of myself.

Dad dropped me on a trail, and by that I mean he escorted me to a point, and told me to walk due west until I reached a swamp. He said it should take me about 45 minutes or an hour and that he and Jon were going to go further up the trail and meet me there.

I looked at my compass, faced west and started moseying. As I was moseying, I managed to get close enough to a few partridge to spook them. If you've ever spooked a partridge, you know how terrifying it is when they catch you off guard. It's a sudden flurry of noise as two wings beat hard in a whiffing, airy sound. It really makes you feel like you need a new pair of boxer briefs. I say moseying because I moved so slowly that I made about half the distance I was supposed to in the 45 minutes. The strangest part was I found what appeared to be a small swamp in between two ridges that I thought for sure must be the swamp we’re looking for.

I got down to the swamp, which turned out to be a few puddles and rocks, and looked around. I didn’t see any sign my brother or father had gotten there yet, so I sat. I sat for ten minutes, still didn’t hear anything. Five more minutes went by and I started to get pretty worried. I got on the walkie-talkie and asked where they are. They both responded that they’re in the swamp. I sure as hell didn’t see them, so I started to panic a little bit. I got up, moved around, still no sign. They must’ve been able to hear the panic in my voice, because they told me to blow my whistle.

If you’ve never been deer hunting, deer spook very easily. Blowing a whistle loudly would spook the deer around you for at least a half mile radius. I hesitantly blew the whistle and Dad and Jon came hustling over the ridge to the west. They were both laughing and grinning as they approached, realizing that I had just walked too slowly. Hilarious for them, embarrassing for me.

That happened the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The following day, Dad put me in a location and told me to walk due east until I reach the lake. He also told me that Jon will be further north on the trail walking in a parallel line. So I took off, this time moving a little faster, so I didn’t “get lost” again.

I should take this time to explain my fear of bears. I am terrified of them. The only good bear is a bear on TV or a bear on my plate. I do not like them. I am afraid of them. The thought of them frightens me. The sound they make in the woods is almost unmistakable.

So I was walking through the woods, stopping every few minutes to listen. I went over a small ridge and came down the other side and listened in the middle of the two ridges. It started very softly, but then gets increasingly louder as something approaches me. My heart is pounding at this point, my palms are sweating, my eyes have become two dark tunnels looking down the barrel of my Browning .30-06 Lever Action ready to pick up the huge black blob that I was sure was close.

With my gun on my shoulder and my finger on the trigger guard, I saw my schmuck of a brother pop his head up over the peak of the ridge. To be clear, I did not almost shoot my brother because I thought he was a bear, though I was ready if he was. I almost shot him because I was so pissed!

When he got close and I had lowered my gun, I whisper-yelled “Dad told us to walk due east!” He said, “I did, you didn’t!” I replied, “I sure did, check your compass.” He didn’t respond after that. Since then, my fear of bears has reached a normal and healthy level and I don’t think I would ever need to shoot my brother.


Pictured below from left to right, Dad, me, and Jonathan, November 2009

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