That's me with a neighbors kid heading into Jockeybush (1970)

The Longest Night Ever Spent In Jockeybush Lake
(at least for Bill Morse)

Early one spring I took ol' Bill Morse (he lives on the Willy Road, just off Mary Jane Peck Hill) and his son into Jockeybush lake for an "overnighter."

T

Bill Morse (1971)

 Bill is, to say the least, a blustery ol' boy with a lot of bravado, but I sensed he was uneasy thinking about sleeping out in the wild. We walked in late in the afternoon so we could get fishin' before the early bird got the worm. Which means early!

We made camp on the shore, chopped some wood, got a fire going, cooked our Spagettio's and Spam. Yuck, you say? Let me tell ya, when you're out in the wilds, walked your butt off all day, set up camp, chopped fire wood, swatted black flies 'til dark - Spagettio's and Spam tasted better than anything you've had in a week!

Gotta get on with this, or we'll be here all night. The sun had just gone down, and the campfire was right behind it. Things were getting quiet. You know that quiet few moments right after sunset. It's almost as if the woods took a long, silent, sigh that the day was done. Ya know, like when ya finally get the kids to bed.

We were ready to hit the hay when I noticed Bill's eyeballs almost rollin' 360 degrees as he checked out the dark forest around us. He was getting edgy, to say the least. I was planning on playing a few tricks on him, but I didn't have to.

Suddenly a loon surfaced, with a splash about 50 feet from us! Let out some screams that can only be described as a crazy woman screaming for her life! If you've heard some of these loons, you know what I'm talking about.

 Well, Bill hadn't!  He started screaming right along with the loon! He scared ME! I thought he was gonna have a stroke! After he saw me doubling over with laughter, almost falling into the fire, he calmed down and headed for the tent calling me names I've never heard before, or since!.  His son and I followed, after we put the fire out, laughing and teasing him. 

After about a half hour of ribbing and laughing, including Bill, who was feeling better in the safety of the tent, we all started to doze off. Every few minutes we could hear the loon scream from across the lake. At every "looney tune" Bill had a choice remark for it.

 Anyway about an hour later, when we were almost asleep, a few pine needles started falling on the tent which we staked next to a huge White Pine.

We didn't take much notice of it, but soon a few more came down, and a few more, and more. I could sense all three of us holding our breath, as we lay in our sleeping bags, wondering what was going on overhead... 

Then some twigs fell onto the tent. Then a few more. Crackling sounds! Twigs breaking!  We all, instantly, sat up in our sleeping bags as we heard something crashing down through the branches. It sounded like the tree was falling! Then something hit the top of the tent with a HUGE CRUNCH! It hit so hard that the two end poles each bent inward to absorb the shock.

 It was a huge coon!!  Apparently it was coming down the tree and thought the tent was a new boulder that grew there that day (coons are not as smart as you think) and jumped, or fell on the tent! 

The nylon tent sagged, acting like a trampoline, and  bounced that coon right back up in the air, then back onto the tent where it hissed, shrieked, and clawed its way off. It all happened in a second or two!.

Bill let out a yell that would'a scared a loon! It sure scared the fire out of that coon! It went nuts climbing over the tent to get away from Bill's screaming! Thought I was gonna die with laughter!  Bill was really shook up, but soon calmed down after cussing me out for the next hour saying only idiots and blankety blanks would go through this crazy stuff. 

It was hysterical! He was spooked by the loon. Now the coon had him almost loony!

It took the better part of an hour and a half for us to finally fall asleep. Don't think Bill ever went completely to sleep. I saw him pull his shirt off, put it under his head, and pull his back pack OVER his head. He thought the coon was a bear coming down the tree, so he was going to protect himself in case one did! 

The tent I had was barely long enough to stretch out in. Either your head or your feet would hit the end of the tent. I always kept my head away from the cold tent wall and let my feet hit it as they were in the sleeping bag. Well, the rest of me was there to, except for my head. :)

I was still half a sleep when I started to feel something pushing on my toes. Thought, at first, that Bill was doing it as I could hear him tossing and turning. Then it REALLY started to push! I came awake with a YELL that would'a woke the dead and scared the coon and loon too death! 

It WAS a bear!  His nose lead him into camp and to my stinky feet. The crazy thing was licking the little bump (my feet) sticking out of the tent wall!  Good thing he wasn't sure whether they were edible! 

I let out two good YELLS, half asleep and spooked.  Not knowing, at first, what it was! Two more followed from Bill!  Why two yells? The first one is because you just messed your pants from fear. The second was to scare away whatever made you mess your pants! It was all over in just a few seconds.

Bill was absolutely terrified when he heard me yell twice The tent almost tore apart as the bear, knocking over fish poles and pots, hit the guy ropes as he high-balled out'a there with one loud bawl of his own! 

Gotta admit wakening up to a bear licking your feet, even through a tent wall, made me sweat bullets for a few seconds. Wheww!

 What scared Bill the most was when he heard me yell. He figured if I was yelling, and he knew I wasn't faking it, we were all gonna be eaten alive by a 500 pound black bear!! 

It was absolutely chaotic with him. He wanted to shoot me right there, but didn't have a gun. I've never seen a guy so scared that he actually got mad! Anyway we got out flashlights and saw the bear tracks, it couldn't have been much bigger than last years cub. To Bill,  it had to be a man eating 500 pound'er!

If you know Bill, he was non-stop jabber when he was relaxed, but this night he was scared completely out'a his wits. First the screaming loon, then the coon falling, or jumping, onto the tent. Then the "500 pound man-eating bear. "

He jabbered for the next couples of hours until the sun came up. Rolled up his sleeping bag. Threw his gear into his knapsack, and said "let's go." Couldn't talk him into staying and fishing for even a couple of hours. So, I packed up, still laughing (at myself to), and we headed out to the car with Bill still jabbering away like a mad blue-jay. I must'a fell on the trail three times while laughing at his jabberings and antics!

We were almost out when we saw a couple of guys just heading in. They said,  "Got your limit already"!? "Got it last night" said Bill looking straight ahead as he kept right on walking to the car.

It truly was the "Longest Night Ever Spent In Jockey Bush Lake."

I KNOW Bill thinks so!

Bill Morris Today 10/2000

He's STILL Mad At Me!

Bill Passed Away August 27, 2008 Two Weeks After His 80th Birthday

Dear Lucy and Family,

Like everyone we were shocked to hear of Bills passing. Kathy and I will always remember him as a blustery ol' guy, but with a heart of gold. I remember when I was sick one winter Bill walked all the way down from the Willie Road to Broad St. to shovel out our driveway before Kathy had to go to work. He was my ol' time budd. Tony

"Next"

 

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