Life in the Wild

November 13, 2008
The fish jumped high in the air and smashed down on the surface, rippling the water and producing a splash whose sound echoed across the wilderness. The fish waited a moment to readjust to being back under the water, and then dove deep into the depths of the abyss of frigid water to look to rejoin its counterparts in the school. All of this species of fish were of similar looks, each bright red with three faded yellow horizontal stripes starting before the gills and ending at the tail. Every fish had light blue eyes and a large dorsal fin for a fish of its size, considering that these fish were rather minuscule. Each fish stayed within an inch or two of the fish next to it to make the school appear as one large fish. But for some reason, the little fish could not find its fellow fish and was alone in the crystal clear river that only Alaska could support, being far away from any city and virtually free of pollution. The vibrant red of the little fish could easily be seen from any distance and would not likely go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, the little fish was spotted by a chinook salmon, more commonly known as the King Salmon, and the largest of its species. The chinook had just ended the spawning season, and was presently in its spawning colors. At this time, a chinook has a blindingly bright belly of several hues of pink, causing it to resemble a rash. Its back is green with small, circular black spots. This pattern extends to the head, ending on its crooked nose that bends like a shepherd’s crook. The chinoook was starving from little feeding opportunity during the long spawning season, and felt hunger pangs resonating throughout its body. It was not long before the flashing light from the little fish grabbed the attention of the salmon. Relying solely on instinct, the chinook slowly swam to the nearest rocks to prepare to ambush the fish. It stared down its prey, waiting for the moment to attack. When the moment finally came, the fish darted toward its victim faster than a torpedo, smacking the little fish with enough force to knock it unconscious. Successful in its attack, the salmon then devoured the hopeless animal in only two gulps with a ripping, twisting motion. No longer in pain, but not exactly satisfied either, the chinook continued to follow the current down the river.
On the bank of the river, which was not as much a bank as much as a slab of grassless dirt mismatched with the surrounding untamed grass and blooming firs, was a large, brown Kodiak bear. It was the smell of fresh fish that brought it here, and it did not look to be disappointed. The bear dunked his head into the water with the same enthusiasm as a child dunking for apples, eyed some salmon, and returned to the surface, shaking its gnarled fur and soaking the dirt its paws laid upon.
The chinook, distracted by its own hunger, did not notice the bear gazing upon it from above the surface; it had its own feeding problems to worry about. But this did not stop the bear- with one fell swoop of its claws the fish had been penetrated and ripped to the surface. It flailed violently, but it was too late. The bear stuffed the chinook into its mouth and crushed the fish with its massive canine teeth, causing guts and blood to splash upon the back of its throat. This meal temporarily satisfied the bear, but would not be enough to sustain it throughout the day. It would require a large meal comprised of some type of mammal in the woods. And so the bear set off, barely able to fit through the narrow hallway of conifers and junipers, whose dark blue and green fruit fell upon the bear like raindrops. With every step of its massive paws, the bear crunched any branch and tree limb in its path.
The hunter lay upon the grass next to the river, looking at the snow-capped mountains which reflected off of the surface of the water, making the world appear double-sided. The hunter smiled a smallish smile through an untrimmed beard that hadn’t known a razor in years. The hunter grabbed and readjusted his red hunting hat, when the crack of a tree limb snapping grabbed his attention, taking him completely by surprise. He fumbled his gun while staring into the direction of the disturbance. His red and black plaid jacket ruffled in the gentle breeze that blew his dark brown hair out of his eyes and sent a shiver down his spine. He shook his shoulders to help relieve the momentary stress and pulled the rifle, its beautiful Alaskan pine wood stock polished and gleaming, up to his face. The bear emerged from behind a stump where it had been preying upon some animal, and, with blood still flowing from its gaping mouth, was startled by the hunter and unleashed its fearsome growl that shook the trees and sent shock waves across the river. The hunter held his rifle with a tenacious grip and planted his feet hard upon the ground in a defiant, stubborn manner that left a deep footprint that would not easily be diminished by time. The hunter may have been smaller and weaker than the bear, but he made up for it in courage, firepower, and cunning. Quickly, the hunter steadied his rifle and fired. The bullet flew through the air and pierced the bear’s fur. Tiny beads of blood dripped from the bear before it collapsed to the ground with a thunderous thump. The hunter excitedly dashed over to the carcass, cracking every branch that dared to get in his way, and he laid his eyes upon his prize with a beaming smile, pride engulfing him.

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