Historically, the foothills of the eastern Sierras have always been a land of guns and outlaws where the cemetery is called Boot Hill and the richest citizen in town is the undertaker. Some pretty tough hombres live in the Comstock country. It’s a land where the residents are fully exposed to all of nature’s nasty elements, everything from bankers to big black bears.
Chris was worried about the bears that had been coming down out of the mountains recently when he collapsed in his overstuffed recliner. Mentally, it had been an exhausting day. He had been to the big bull sale where he had made one of the most momentous decisions in his young adult life. Much to the chagrin of his father, Chris had just purchased the first bull other than a Hereford to ever set foot on the place. It was not just any bull either, Chris had bought the Champion Angus bull. And he wasn’t cheap!
As Chris was about to doze off he remembered that he had turned the water sprinkler on the lawn before entering the house and so he yelled at his wife. “Faye, would you mind going outside and moving the sprinkler on the lawn?”
What is it about men and recliners, I wonder, that turns normally kind husbands into demanding tyrants?
Faye had a pretty tough day herself, teaching school kids but she realized that Chris had probably over-taxed himself with his one big decision. So she reluctantly went into the night that was blacker than a chuck wagon skillet to move the lawn sprinkler.
It was darker than death outside and as Faye bent down to turn off the faucet she heard the most hideous sound she had ever heard (other than her husband’s snoring). When Faye gazed into the blackness she could barely discern the outline of a big black bear in the front yard. The bear was as big as a house, standing six feet tall and ready to attack. Faye left skid marks in the dirt as she headed for the house.
“There’s a bear in our front yard,” she screamed at Chris as she bolted through the front door.
Her husband’s initial reaction was, “But did you move the sprinkler?”
“Chris,” Faye stated emphatically, “let me see if I got this right. A big black bear has broken down the fence and is standing in our front yard making the most awful noise and I barely escape with my life and you want to know if I moved the sprinkler?”
Chris had heard Faye use that tone of voice once before during the entirety of their long marriage and that experience had left deep emotional, as well as physical scars. So he bolted from the recliner and ran to the gun cabinet to find something to protect himself from the bear and his irate wife. But the arsenal of this rugged High Sierra family included a BB gun, a child’s high pressure water blaster and a broken air rifle. Shameful, I say. Just shameful.
Chris rightly figured that none of those weapons would probably bring down a big black bear. “Faye, please call the neighbor and tell him to bring the biggest gun he’s got, pretty please.”
It wasn’t long before the neighbor pulled up behind the house and snuck through the back door so as to not be seen by the bear. The neighbor was quickly appraised of the dangerous situation. He quietly opened a front window and aimed his elephant gun at the imposing creature. As he took aim at the angry beast and was ready to squeeze the trigger the cumulus clouds wafted away from the face of the moon and light beams shone on the big, black beast.
“DON’T SHOOT, DON”T SHOOT,” yelled Chris.
There in the new light, sitting on his haunches as harmless as a pet rabbit, rocking back and forth and bellering like a bull was the first Black Angus bull to ever graze the Gansberg place.