Outdoors and Free
Friday, December 3, 2010
Volume 5, Issue 04

How the Bear Lost His Tail



Well, here it is December and as we have seen, the ice is beginning to form on our lakes and ponds. It won’t be too long before it will thicken immensely and we will be able to enjoy ice fishing once again. So, start getting your gear together now and be ready for when the safe ice arrives. Now, here’s a story of ice fishing that went bad. It’s an old Native American folk tale about a tail. 


One cold winter afternoon, a long time ago, a bear was walking through the woods. He had awakened from his hibernation because he was so hungry that his stomach was growling. Then, he met a sly old fox carrying a string of fine fish over his back. “Good day to you fox,” he said. “Tell me, where did you get such a fine string of fish?”


“Now, the fox had stolen the fish, but did not want the bear to know that. So, he said, “I’ve been ice fishing all day. I caught these down in the river. I’m very fond of fish, you know. They will make a fine supper.” The bear was fond of fish and wanted some for his supper. So, he asked the fox, “Is it very hard to catch fish in the winter?”


“No,” said the fox. “It’s easy. I’ll tell you what you must do. Go down to the river and cut a hole in the ice.  Then, stick your beautiful, long busy tail down into the water and just wait for the fish to bite.”  


“Will it hurt when they bite my tail?” asked the bear.


“Oh, it will sting and hurt for just a little bit,” the fox told him. 


“But, don’t worry about it. The longer you sit there, the more fish you will catch. When you think you’ve had enough, just give a good hard pull. Your tail will come free and you will have a string of fish on the end of it.”


“Sure sounds like a funny way to catch fish for me,” said the bear. “But, I’m so hungry for fish that I will do it. I just hope the fish will bite.” “Oh, they will,” laughed the fox. “Just do as I told you.” “I will remember. Thank you fox,” said the bear as he walked down to the river.


Of course the river was well frozen over. The bear walked out onto the ice. He cut a hole into the water. The water was very cold and soon the bear began to shiver. After awhile, his tail began to sting.


“My tail hurts a lot,” thought the bear. “That means the fish are biting.” 


And he sat there for a long, long time dreaming about all the fish he would eat for dinner. 


At last, the bear decided that he had enough fish. But, when he tried to get up, the poor bear found that he could not stand straight. All the water in the hole had frozen solid. His tail was caught fast.


“That sly old fox tricked me,” he growled.


He was so angry that he gave a good hard pull. Up came his tail out of the water! But, not all of it came. Only the small part that was fastened to the bear. The rest stayed right there in the frozen water. And, that is why all bear have such short, stumpy tails! If one is to believe folktales, no bear was ever given a beautiful, long, bushy tail again as punishment for believing such a sly fox and following such foolish advice. 


Happy ice fishing!

Bob Harris can be reached via e-mail at: outwriter2@aol.com


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DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Mr. Harris are not necessarily those of the Goffstown Residents Association or its members

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