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Fistfight with a griz

| June 23, 2021 6:55 AM

A classic G. George Ostrom column from 2009...

Human conversations are amazing in the way odd or forgotten subjects pop up out of nowhere. That’s the way it is in my coffee chats with Over the Hill Gangers. Someone last Tuesday recalled the Glacier Park hiker lady who drove an attacking grizzly off her husband by slugging the beast with her binoculars. Most of us recalled that unusual incident from the days before pepper spray. However, no one seemed to believe my recall of a young man taking on a grizzly with his bare hands.

The Gang’s disbelief of that story was hurtful. Went through files for facts and found unquestionable proof in my personal account from 25 years ago:

On July 26, 1984, a hiker in Glacier Park did a wild thing. Barry Gamble was hiking the trail to Iceberg Lake with his lady friend, Peggy Denial, when a grizzly bear charged them and started “clawing” Ms. Denial. For reasons he may never understand, Mr. Gamble leaped on the bear and started “sockin’ it in the head” with his fists. For reasons I may never understand, the bear did not eat him right on the spot. Amazingly, the griz retreated, then risking another punch in the snoot, came back for a final swat at Ms. Denial before hightailing it into the brush.

This story was soon all over the media, and I certainly hope most of you macho menfolk came out better than I did in discussing that strange news event with your favorite female.

Our breakfast conversation started on an innocent note with First Wife Iris saying, “My! That man certainly was brave…wasn’t he George?”

“Pretty dumb trick if you ask me,” I mumbled through my bacon.

“What do you mean DUMB? That man risked his life for his woman…and they aren’t even married.”

“Yeah! Dumber than I first thought.”

The discussion took a nasty turn. Iris lowered her voice, narrowed her eyes, and in a no nonsense tone asked, “If a grizzly bear was attacking me, would you run up and hit it in the head with your fists?”

“Probably not Dearie! We still have kids to look after, and you know how much trouble I’m having with my elbow affecting fly fishing and golf scores.”

“G. GEORGE OSTROM! We are not talking here about kids, fishing, and gold. We are talking about immeasurable, instinctive and unquestioning LOVE.”

“Gee whiz Honey! I thought we were just kiddin’ around about some California tourist who figured he could whip a grizzly bear.”

In spite of dazzling verbal parries and a preponderance of logical testimony…I lost the debate. If Iris is ever attacked by anything – from a prairie chicken to a herd of grizzlies -- I am irrevocably committed to instantly engage in bare knuckle combat.