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Forgotten Heroes
Next morning, the rifle was leaned against the outside of the tent while the guys ate breakfast. Then we went on several interesting hikes and boat rides. Sometimes I was grabbed and pushed into a tight-fitting chamber, but only for a few hours at a time. Sometimes my buddy got stuffed into the rifle, and I got to wait my turn.

When I was pushed into the chamber, I could smell gun solvent and see light way ahead down a long tube. Eventually, I was taken back out and slipped me into the snug elastic holder beside my buddy. I still didn’t know what was happening, but we were definitely in beautiful country.

On the second day, another of our buddies was pushed down the chamber and we experienced a huge explosion. We overheard a man tell another guy that his “zero was good,” and we returned to the camp, where we watched the men make freeze-dried meals for supper. Then we went into a tent for the night. The man kept the big rifle beside the bed for some strange reason.

For several days we got into a strange routine. First the man put us and the rifle into a tough rubber case and we walked for a while. Then we heard an outboard motor roar for about an hour. The ride was very rough some days, and we could hear rain on the rubber case. Then he took the rifle out of the case and we went and hid in a group of huge rocks along the river’s edge.

Either my buddy or I would be pushed into the chamber and squeezed into position as the rifle closed. There was total darkness. Apparently the end of the barrel had been covered with tape so nothing entered the barrel, not even a bit of light. We spent hours in the rocks or hiking nearby. Seems we were looking for something. They were always talking about glassing and tracks in the snow and sand.

One morning, we watched the men go about their breakfast routine. As usual, the man had taken his rifle out of the little tent and leaned it on the outside near the vestibule. We were in the stretchy elastic holder on the stock of the little rifle. The way the rifle was leaning had us facing the second tent where the men huddled out of the icy wind.
We saw them start a small stove so they could boil water for coffee, hot chocolate and instant porridge. The youngest guide came out of the tent and sat down with the two older guys. After a few minutes he stood up and looked around the tent and started shouting. Something about bears charging camp!

We saw the hunter running fast straight to us. He grabbed the rifle and headed back to the other tent. After throwing off the big black Scope Coat that protected the Nikon scope he broke the rifle open and grabbed me very hard. He rammed me into the chamber and slammed the action shut. I did not know what was going on, but I could hear lots of yelling, particularly the words, “Hurry up Ian, SHOOT!!!”

Suddenly a terrible force pushed me forward and I was rocketed into the tight-fitting barrel. While my body was squeezed to fit and hurled forward, it was also spun in three hundred and sixty degree circles by the rifling I had to follow. I was pushed so hard the grooves cut into my jacket and I felt like I was scrunching up and getting shorter. My base was so hot I think some of the lead started to get soft. Plus the friction from the tight fitting lands and grooves caused my jacket to heat up several hundred degrees!

Up ahead I could see light as the electrician’s tape blew away from the muzzle. Suddenly my nose emerged from the barrel. The heat from the gases dissipated as I spun away. My body expanded slightly and the tremendous heat continued as I smoothly left the rifling at the crown of the barrel. I was flying perfectly straight because I was spinning so fast.

I could see sand below me as I headed across a huge sandbar downstream from camp. I also saw the most terrifying wilderness sight imaginable! Two enormous Alaskan brown bears charging side-by-side straight at me! I was heading straight at the biggest bear, and he could not see me coming! The bears continued their lunging gait. They were enormous and evil looking with tiny beady eyes set in huge faces.

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