TRACK OF THE UNKNOWN

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Track of the unknown
In the thick backwoods of the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky its first settlers such as Daniel Boone hunted and fished for their food. They killed animals because they didn’t know when they would eat their next meal and a big old bear hide was a lot of money for a hungry family. So many were killed off, not just for money but also for protection of themselves, their families, and their livestock. but a few remained and over the years the department of fish and game put more bears into the wilderness and over the years encounters with humans have increased
Clay was as quiet as a fart in a church, this was caused by his dad going missing up in the hills, he was never found. Clay sat in his room eating his birthday cake today he turned 15, today for him, felt exactly the same as yesterday but today felt a little different, he sat the cake down and looked at a silver cross his dad gave him before he died, the cross had been worn dull from years of wear, he wore it when he killed his first turkey, his dad had two of them made one for him and one for Clay. Clay’s Dad died when clay was five years old he went hunting one day and never came back, the police and fire department searched for months but never found anything, not a track, a carcass, nothing like he vanished. They lived with Clay’s grandparents up until about two years ago when Clay’s mom married his stepdad Bill. Clay Never exactly warmed up to Bill, he treated Clay and his mom right but, Clay never saw him as his dad. Clay knew something wasn’t right about his Dad’s going missing, he was an experienced woodsman and hunter, Clay knew every known animal in those deep backwoods, and the biggest one he knew of the black bear were scarce but never really harmed people and Clay felt his dad was bigger than most black bears, his mom told him when he asked about his growth spurt how tall his dad was and she replied “he was 6’6 and weighed about 290lbs”. Then he thought about books he read about Davey Crockett & Daniel Boone and how people who followed them into the mountains killed off all the Grizzly bears.
Every year in Kentucky the divisions of wildlife draws elk tags and if your name is picked you get to harvest an elk. And that year Clay’s name was drawn, the next day the Leslie county wildlife officer called and told them the good news the next day they went to go get his elk tag bill, when they came back waited at the house when they pulled up he came out of the house with a camo rifle in his hands, he handed it to Clay, he held it in his hands and it made him feel like shooting it.
Clay was big for his age, he lifted the most at weight lifting for football and was usually about a head taller and at least 30 pounds heavier than most kids his age, and this made the gun feel little in his arms. This was the best thing Bill ever gave him. He hugged Bill. But his father’s death still lingered in his dreams and One night he heard a strange noise one he had never heard before he stepped out the front door and turned the porch light on to see, he loaded his gun with 4, 150 grain Winchester rounds he pulled the bolt back and the bullet went into the chamber he peered into the darkness a large dark figure stood up and roared at Clay, it was so load and strange it made his blood curdle. He aimed the gun in the direction of the noise. The noise suddenly stopped. The next day he walked to where he thought the figure stood he saw an enormous track and on a tree he saw some blood, he covered the rack with leaves and wiped the blood off the tree so if Bill stumbled on it he wouldn’t worry. Later he walked down to his grandparent’s house he saw his Papaw on the porch and told him everything that was going on then he asked him “what was the biggest animal that ever lived in those mountains”
his grandpa scratched his head with a curious thought in his mind “I think it was grizzly bear, but they killed off long before I was born” then he said “ it would probably be easier findin’ a needle in a hay stack than a grizzly bear in em hills” then his Papaw asked how he felt getting his name picked for the elk hunt, before he could answer Papaw replied “ I’ll bet once you get that ol’ elk in your crosshairs he’s got the same chance as a fart in a whirlwind”. Clay couldn’t help but laugh He gave his Papaw a hug and started walking back home. that night he got everything ready for the elk hunt the next day he woke up to his alarm clock it said 4:00am he got dressed and woke up Bill and walked out the door he saw his coondog “Tug” barking at him he tied a rope around his neck and said I’ll be back soon he saw the sadness in his old dog’s eyes it was almost like the dog knew something was about to happen. He and Bill stepped in the truck they were driving to a strip mine 15 miles behind the house where Bill knew elk were and saw sign of them on past hunting excursions they got there and started walking the tree line they came across a dead bull elk carcass and it was big it’s ribs were all broken and the trees were covered with blood, flesh and fur both clay and bill looked down at the carcass then clay saw next to it a huge bear track far too big to be a black bear it was a grizzly. Then Clay heard branches crack and a rustling in the leaves he saw a huge brown blur he turned to Bill.
Bill looked like he had seen a ghost, “are you breathing down my neck” he said to Clay, “don’t. Turn. Around” he said in a low Quiet voice, just then a huge bear slammed Bill against a tree the bear turned and looked at Clay.
He gave Clay a look as though saying you’re gonna die, slow, painful, your blood is about to quench my thirst. The bear’s eyes gave off blood thirsty savageness within the bear Clay loaded his gun and cocked it. The bear rushed him and out of nowhere Tug jumped up and grabbed the bear in the throat the bear kept swatting at Tug Clay saw the bear’s blood flowing down tug’s body the dog wouldn’t let go his jaws had locked on the bear’s throat. The bear slowed down long enough for clay to pull off a few clear shots
Click. Bang. Click. Bang. Click. Bang.
The bear staggered and then fell. Clay petted his dog and realized the love Tug had for him to come within an inch of his the ultimate sacrifice for his master. He knew bill was okay because he heard Bill mumbling cuss words as he dragged bill to the truck. As he drove down the old dirt road he saw a shiny object on a rock he slammed on the breaks. He got out of truck and ran to the rock and he remembered his dad talking about a cave he kept supplies in he got to the rock and saw a silver cross identical to his except slightly rusted with his Dad’s name etched in the back, he saw a skull with a part broken off and by it an old dry bear track slightly smaller than the one he saw earlier that same bear had killed his dad and as far as Clay was concerned it wasn’t going to get bill he walked in the cave and found an old cell phone he dialed his mom’s phone number she answered he said “mom call the ambulance”
“What’s wrong” she said”
“Just call the ambulance MOM!”
He sped down the road an ambulance was waiting.
Bill grabbed Clay’s hand as though he was trying to say today you are a man, then said “ your dad would be proud” after a few months Bill got better, they gave Clay’s dad a proper burial, that night something strange woke him up he stepped out the front door and heard a blood curdling angry echo coming down from the dark mountains similar to the one he heard before but with more anger and hatred he went up the mountain where he shot the bear with a piece of rope he found a bear claw and tied it around his neck. He looked and saw a huge puddle of blood, then behind him he heard leaves crunch and twigs break he turned around, lifted his gun, and closed his eyes he remembered something his dad told him “you never know what’s in those mountains”. He felt a presence come over him it took him back to when his Dad would hold up his arms so he could keep the gun steady he heard his dad’s voice whisper in his ear
“Squeeze the trigger son, I believe in you” he opened his eyes and the bear lay dead at his feet.





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