First Attempt to Find Flint Ridge
March 18, 2016 was a beautiful day with the sun shining bright, so I decided to go for a walk and see if I could find a place my father had told me about. As a child growing up on South Road in the 1930s, he and his cousins had sometimes wandered south of their home over the hill to a flint quarry where the Nez Perce Indians had made arrowheads, tips for spears and other stone tools. Reject points could be found littered among the rocks where a cutting tool under construction had broken in the wrong place and been discarded. My father and his cousins had named the place Flint Ridge. I wanted to locate the quarry and take a look at it myself.
I was preparing to leave and altered my plans slightly when I decided to take our two dogs along. Kanobi is ten years old and slowing down some, but he still enjoys a good walk. Leia is just over a year old and full of energy. My brother had encountered a couple of stray dogs that had threatened him in that area a few years before and I had concerns for the safety of my dogs, so I went to the gun safe and brought out the 357 magnum I had owned since my college days. I loaded it with 130 grain hollow points which would be more than enough to stop most dogs. I loaded my two dogs in the pickup and we set out on our adventure.
I drove to property my wife and I own at 2767 South Road. I parked at the top of the hill just east of the house and let the dogs out. From there, we crossed the road into a wheat field and headed south. The field was muddy, so I climbed over a barbed wire fence on the east side of the field and walked south through a grassy pasture. As usual, the dogs were 50 – 100 yards ahead of me checking everywhere for new sights and smells. We were only about 600 yards south of the pickup when we started down a steep hillside. The dogs raced down into a brushy draw filled with hawthorn bushes so thick the dogs almost immediately disappeared when they entered the brush. They had barely disappeared from view when suddenly I heard the brush crackling and snapping with the sound of a large animal crashing though the heavy brush. It sounded like it was 75 – 100 feet ahead of me and at first I thought the dogs had frightened a large deer or perhaps an elk. The sound of crashing brush soon gave way to the frightened yelps of the younger dog Leia and the heavy huffing and grunting of an annoyed bear. Most bears don’t like loud noises and ordinarily run from barking dogs, but my dogs weren’t barking. I didn’t hear anything from the older dog, but the younger one continued to yelp in distress. I started shouting at the top of my lungs in part to frighten the bear away, but also I was calling my dogs back, telling them to come. The sound in the bushes would pause momentarily, then again I would hear the sound of crashing brush, huffing, grunting and the helpless distressed yelps from the younger dog Leia. I started down the steep hill into the brush yelling as loudly as possible to frighten away the bear. Soon I caught sight of the older dog Kanobi leaving the heavy brush to my left and circling up the hill behind me. Not far behind him came the bear. They had nearly disappeared into the brush on the uphill side of me when I saw Kanobi turn and prepare to challenge the bear. I suspect Kanobi thought he needed to defend his family from the attacker, but that was the last thing I wanted him to do. I drew my revolver and in an attempt to make more noise, I fired one round in the air. As sharp as a 357 report from a four inch barrel normally sounds, it now sounded pitifully weak to me. I didn’t even notice any recoil. Adrenaline does that sort of thing to our senses. About that time, the bear turned and came crashing back through the brush directly towards me. I was in heavy thorn brush on a steep hillside and could not easily maneuver. I again started yelling at the bear at the top of my lungs. I yelled BACK OFF!, STOP!, GIT!. With my revolver still in my hand I weighed my options of firing another warning shot or saving the five rounds I had left to fire directly into the bear. I remember thinking how woefully inadequate 130 grain hollow points seemed for the bulky animal headed towards me. The bear slowed to a walk and when it was 10 – 15 feet from me, it seemed to notice me for the first time and it steered slightly to the right and walked on past me disappearing into the heavy thorn brush.
Kanobi soon returned to me shaking in fear. He was limping slightly, but I think he had probably stepped on a thorn. My biggest concern was the younger dog. I called out to her, in part to warn the bear we were coming deeper into the brush patch. I didn’t get any response from Leia, no whimpers, no whining, no nothing. I thought of a story I had heard about a dog challenging a black bear and with one swipe of its paw, the bear had sent the dog flying through the air with its side ripped open. In this case, I had heard numerous yelps of distress, but I had not heard Leia screaming in mortal anguish. I was once with a dog when it stepped in a coyote trap. I didn’t know dogs could scream in pain and fear until that day. Leia hadn’t made that kind of noise, but I also knew if the bear had caught her, he might have crushed her before she could make any further sound.
It was 3:45 PM as Kanobi and I crawled deeper into the brush searching for Leia. I was on my hands and knees. It seemed like I was getting puncture wounds from the thorns with every move. For a while, I tried to keep my revolver in my hand, but it was too difficult to crawl that way, so I placed it back in the holster and made sure the snap held it firmly in place. Being on my hands and knees in the brush was an awkward position from which to defend myself. I kept looking around and listening, both for Leia and for the bear. I also continued to call for Leia as loud as I could, in part to frighten away the bear.
We probably searched for 30 minutes and found nothing of the younger dog. Kanobi and I headed back to the vehicle. As we climbed the steep hillside, I called out to Leia and scanned the hillsides below us, but saw nothing. I hoped we would find her at the vehicle. The 600 yard walk back to the vehicle seemed like a long one. It was 45 degrees outside, but I was perspiring heavily and took my coat off long before reaching the pickup.
As we came into sight of the vehicle, I hoped Leia would be waiting there for us. I couldn’t see her anywhere. The end gate of the pickup was closed, but the door on the canopy was open. I was preparing to lower the end gate to load kanobi when I heard a noise in the pickup. It was Leia. She had climbed over the end gate and was cowering at the front of the pickup bed. I lowered the end gate and called her to me. Still cowering, she came to the rear of the pickup and I inspected her for injury. I found nothing, although she was still obviously frightened. I picked up Kanobi and placed him in with Leia. He took an interest in her hip, sniffing and inspecting. I checked that and found no blood or sensitive areas. There was no blood in the pickup, so I concluded she was free of any serious injury.
The dogs and I came home and I told my wife of our adventure. My voice was hoarse from calling for Leia. We brought the dogs in the house and my wife threw a toy down the hall for Leia. This is a common game my wife plays with Leia, but this time the dog would only go part way down the hall before returning to us. She was afraid of what might be waiting for her at the other end of the hallway. She often lays at my feet while I am at the computer, but while I was writing this, she rested with her head between my feet, something she has never done before. I hope she will soon get over her fear and I am glad we all made it home in one piece. I still intend to find Flint Ridge, but I plan on leaving my dogs at home next time.