The Story Teller

by Dan Simmons

The time of hunting and fishing conventions has come to an end and the hunting guides-outfitters have returned home to prepare for another season. I’m left with my head full of new stories and my sides still aching from laughing at the crazy tales and humorous, if sometimes dangerous, adventures we’ve shared at vendor booths, in the hallways, hotel rooms and yes, while sipping a beverage in the local “watering holes.”

As is often the case — a few individuals stand out and their stories are most memorable. This year it was guide and outfitter, Keith Connors, from the far north of British Columbia, Canada. Keith and I have shared many stories and experiences over the years and this year was no exception.

Like many of his compatriots he is well-educated, having studied Wildlife Management, has traveled extensively, and is at home in a river boat, climbing mountains or flying his own bush plane. He is also at home at formal banquets or around the campfire.

One of my favorite stories this year was about an eighty-year-old native woman who lives on Tagish Lake in the Yukon. Her name is Mary James and she is a legend in the area, having lived her life in a cabin on the lake. She still runs a trap line and still knows her way with a dog team.

One cold and rainy day, while guiding a grizzly bear hunter, Keith pulled to shore to visit Mary and warm up. She was on the shore as he came closer and was glad to see him. “I need some help getting this griz out of my boat,” she said to the men’s amazement.

It seems she had been netting whitefish the day before and when she got up the next morning the bear was in the boat, “digging around in the net,” and he didn’t respond well to her asking him to leave. Now these fishing nets are costly and a valuable resource and she thought it poor manners of the bear, so she went back to her cabin and got her .243 caliber trapper’s carbine she had bought many years earlier from the Sears catalog. She then returned back through the willows and with one shot, at 15 feet, the bear was stone dead. She then skinned it herself, but couldn’t get it out of the boat.

The hunter standing there with his 375 H. & H. Magnum rifle just stood and shook his head at what he was seeing. Keith was amazed, but having known Mary for several years was not surprised. It was the way of the north.

Bare Huntin
By Keith Connors

This story is true, and I don’t know why
Anyone might doubt me or think I would lie
About the embarrassing thing that happened to me
At 3 a.m. on June 23
A day of hard labor had led to sound sleep
But still I was awakened though it was, oh so deep
By the sound of a porcupine using my tent frame for food
And thus I awakened in a very foul mood
Now at 3 in the morning you’re not likely to see
Anyone on the Finlay River so it didn’t bother me
To go after that critter in only my boots
With the rest of me dressed in my finest
birthday suit
So with hate in my heart and a club in my hand
I went out to send that porky off to his promised land
And with the stealth developed from hunting mountain sheep
I snuck up on that quill pig ‘til I was within 2 feet
Then with a blow that would surely have decked Larry Holmes
I attempted to crush that varmint’s skull bones
But my aim wasn’t deadly in the predawn light
And the only real damage was to the porcupine’s sight.


     Here is a recipe you can prepare at home in a crock-pot, but traditionally it is done on the wood stove in a cast iron roaster. One usually finds this in most northern trappers’ cabins and it is always hot and ready with additional meat, spices and a little water added as the pot goes down. This is one you can personalize by adding your own favorite spices, or even strong beverages to the sauce. It’s always good and welcomed by hunters on a cold winter’s day. 

Tagish Lake Bear Roast


  • One 4-lb bear roast (similar to pork roast) 
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt 
  • 2 tsp. ground black pepper 
  • 3 cups strong beef broth 
  • 2 tsp. prepared horseradish 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ¼ cup chopped onion 
  • 2 tsp. thyme 
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 2 cups whole-berry cranberry sauce 
  • 2 cups mini carrots


  • Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper on all sides, brown in skillet;
  • place broth, horseradish, garlic, onion, thyme and cranberry sauce in crock-pot, stir to mix well; place roast in crock-pot;
  • pour wine in skillet and scrape to remove any browned bits, pour into crock-pot, cook on low 4-6 hours;
  • add carrots and cook another 2 hours or until roast is tender.
  • Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes

“The Story Teller” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times