New Holsters and Bear Spit
by Will Ghormley
As a young cowboy in south west Colorado, I had the chance to go on the fall roundups.  In the spring, the cattle were driven up out of the wintering valley into the summer grazing pastures leased from the BLM, (Bureau of Land Management).  In the fall, they had to be chased down out of the high meadows and canyons into a corral, then trucked back to the wintering pastures.  Cowboys were required to carry pistols on the roundup for three reasons.  If a cowboy got lost in the mountains he could fire three shots to let his pards know where to find him before he died of embarrassment.  If he had a horse wreck and had to put his mount down, the pistol was the quickest way.  The fall was also when the bears were getting after that last bit of food to see them through the sleepy winter.  They were often surly and a pistol shot in the air was apt to drive them away if they became bothersome.  You didn't want to shoot the bears, that would just make 'em mad, but they didn't like the noise the guns made.  I had a pistol, but had to make a holster so I could go on the roundup.  The foreman saw my new holster and thought he would like one too.  Soon, several of the ranch cowboys were outfitted with new leather for the fall.  We headed for the mountains.

We had a metal bear proof trailer to keep the grub in.  It was parked away from the sleeping tents to keep the roving bears away from the sleeping cowboys.  After supper one evening, I was strolling through the tall darkening pines to where I had pitched my tent near a stream.  I heard the snuffing before I saw the bear’s tail-end sticking out of my tent flap.  He was ransacking my tent!  I reached for my pistol only to realize I’d left it in my tent when I heard the dinner bell.  I figured I’d run him off with a few well aimed pine cones.  He didn’t notice.  Then I started chucking river rocks.  He never stopped snuffing or swaying from side to side.  Finally I got mad and let loose with a big ol’ rock that hit him on his spine just above the tail.  With a little hop he backed out of that tent and whirled to face me before I had a chance to say a prayer.  White foam dripped from his jaws!  I knew it would be only a few moments and this rabid bear would end my short young life.  To my utter amazement, the bear just looked at me, blew foam out of his nose and turned and ambled off into the gathering shadows.  When I was finally able make my feet move, I went to inspect my tent.  Foam was spattered over everything inside the tent.  It reeked of the bear’s bad breath - and something else, something out of place.  It took me a few moments to place the smell before I recognized it.  It had a hint of mint. About that time I spotted the remains of my mangled tube of Crest.  He'd gotten into my tent to eat my toothpaste!  Well, my teeth got pretty furry before the roundup was over and to this day I’ve never been able to brush with Crest.
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