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NEW YORK FOLKLORE NEWSLETTER Fall/Winter 1998
NYFS Newsletter 1998-vol19-no4-1
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Fall/Winter 1998 Newsletter

In the Bear Den
Harvey Carr



Harvey Carr was a woodsman who worked much of his life in the Adirondacks as a lumberjack, eventually managing crews for New York State. An avid hunter and fisherman, he once worked as a guide but decided that he "liked to hunt and fish too much to spoil it by guiding." Descended from a line of English and Irish storytellers, Harvey excelled at tall tales and joined the Adirondack Liar’s Club (a performance group of traditional tall tale masters) in 1987. Harvey passed away in 1991 after a long illness.


I was out hunting right out back here, right here out of Blue Mountain Lake, back over the ridge and up on Blue Ridge, pretty good hunting country. I was tiptoeing along up there and all of a sudden the ground dropped from under me. Down I went. I must have went down, oh, 20 or 25 feet. What it was, I guess, was I dropped right through a crevice in a rock, and right down through, right down the bottom. I hit bottom, and I heard a little whuff! or something there, but I wasn’t sure just what it was. It kind of knocked the wind out of me, and I just sat there for a while. But when I got so I could see a little better, there was a great big old bear laying there sound asleep. He was hibernating. I was in quite a predicament. The tunnel where the bear came into the den was on the other side of the bear from me. There wasn’t room to get out around him and, man, if I ever tried to go over the top of that bear he might wake up and tear me right to pieces. "Well," I thought, "I might as well take a little nap." So I curled up and went to sleep.

About every three or four days I’d wake up, and I’d look. But that old bear was still there, and there was nothing else I could do, so I’d go back to sleep again. Well that went on till, oh, about the middle of April. Then one day I woke up, and I looked, and the bear was gone. Boy, that was a relief. I crawled out of there pretty careful-like and looked around. Sure enough, the bear was nowhere in sight. Well by that time I was feeling pretty hungry. It had been from the middle of November til April.

I said to myself, "Man, the first thing I got to do is get something to eat. Maybe I’ll stop at the neighbor’s there and get something."

But then I realized I was so hungry I would eat everything he had in the house and make a disgrace of myself. I couldn’t do that, so I decided I’d better go down to the supermarket. I went down to Indian Lake to the supermarket. There’s a Grand Union down there, and they got one of these new-fangled rubber mats in front of the door—you know the kind. You walk onto it, and your weight trips a switch, and the door opens. Well, I’d lost so much weight that the doggone door wouldn’t even open. You know, I had to wait till another customer came up and stood on there with me before the doors opened. Well, I got in, and I got filled up after a while, and I don’t know if I ever paid them the rest of the food bill or not.

Well, then I thought I better get home. My good wife, Mary, might be worried about me seeing as how I’d been gone about six months. But when I came in she didn’t seem to be too upset. She just looked up and said, "Hi Harve, how was the hunting?"




 





“I was in quite a predicament. The tunnel where the bear came into the den was on the other side of the bear from me. There wasn’t room to get out around him and, man, if I ever tried to go over the top of that bear he might wake up and tear me right to pieces.
—Harvey Carr


“In the Bear Den” is reprinted with permission from I Was on the Wrong Bear edited by Vaughn Ward, and available from New York Traditions, our on-line gallery shop.


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