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Penny Lacy: Jack & Grizzly a reminder of Bill T & the Black Bear

It seems bears are attracted to Adair Countian Bill Troutwine, who says, his daughter writes, that this story isn't worthy because the protagonist bear was only a black bear - even though her story which follows provides is a thrilling episode in their Montana Days serial.
Related Bill Troutwine: Montana Story - The Mule That Could Out Run Secretariat. A story for Derby Week. Posted April 27, 2014

By Penny Lacy

I just read Dad's story about Jack and the Grizzly (which I have heard many times) and I thought you may be interested in another bear story about my Dad. It seems bears are attracted to him.

He says this story isn't worthy because it was only a black bear.


Setting: Dad was sheriff in Big Sky; she was student at Montana State/Bozeman

At the time this took place Dad was working as a deputy sheriff in Big Sky, and I was going to college at Montana State University in Bozeman. Every spare moment Dad had, he spent in the mountains, and when I could get a break from school I would go with him.

Probably the most fun I ever had with Dad was when he took me on a camping trip in Big Sky. We took Pal (my little appaloosa mare), Buster (Dad's wild mustang), a pack horse (unbroken and on her first pack trip), and the supplies we needed, and headed into the mountains.

A Great Ride into Lee Metcalf Wilderness

The weather was beautiful and after a great ride into the Lee Metcalf Wilderness and up to the top of the Spanish Peaks, we found an amazing open plateau with a crystal clear lake that made the perfect place to camp.

The beauty and peacefulness was something that just can't be explained. We hobbled the horses, set up our tent, and enjoyed some trout fishing. We were catching cutthroat trout as fast as we could throw our lines in the water. It was a day most people would give anything to experience.

Ate fresh trout for every meal

We cooked fresh trout for every meal, spent the night and did more riding and sightseeing the next day. Now, I know at this point, you must be thinking that this doesn't sound like a Bill Troutwine story, because no one has fallen off of a horse, broken any bones, or nearly frozen to death, but we're not at the end yet.... As all good things must come to an end, so did our little trip.

We packed up our things and headed back down the mountain.

A peaceful ride through the switchbacks, until bear showed up

For the most part it was a peaceful ride through the switch backs, until the bear showed up! Yes, I said bear. As Dad was riding in the lead on our ride down, he rounded a bend to find himself face to face with a bear! Buster (his horse) reared up, and he and the pack horse were determined to get out of there.

While Dad was trying to hang on to the pack horse, she lunged, Dad would not turn her loose, and she pulled him off Buster. Both horses ran as fast as lightning toward home.

For the first time ever, Pal actually stayed in control. Dad yelled for me to go after Buster, because we were nearly to the trailhead and almost to highway 191, which can be a very busy road.

'Pal and I went flying down the mountain'

He was afraid the horses would get to the road and get hit. Pal and I went flying down the mountain after the horses.

Realizing that I would never catch them on the trail, I dropped off the side and cut the switch backs, going straight down the mountain so that I could get in front of them. Fortunately, it worked, and I was able to stop them.

As I was leading Buster back up the path, I suddenly realized that I left Dad on the ground with a bear, while his rifle was on a runaway horse.

'Hey, this is Bill Troutwine we're talking about'

Now, if it would have been anyone else on that trail I would have run back as quickly as possible, worried about what I might find. But then I thought to myself, "Hey, this is Bill Troutwine we're talking about." He'll probably have killed the bear with a sharp stick he picked up, skinned it with a small pocket knife, have a fire built, be cooking bear steaks, and made me a necklace out of bear claws by the time I get back. So I took my time and moseyed back up the trail instead. OK, so maybe the last sentence wasn't true, but everything else that I wrote is and I am so fortunate to have a Dad that shared so many wonderful things with me. Story by Penny Troutwine Lacy


This story was posted on 2014-04-30 04:02:40
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