“The stirring outdoor story about a young boy, Ted; his collie, Tammie; and a pair of tremendous bucks in the wild country of the Black Hills grew out of Jim Kjelgaard’s lifelong interest in deer.
It began during his boyhood in Pennsylvania, at a time when the state’s great herds were at their peak. The two bucks of the story, Damon and Pythias, are based on a pair that the author actually observed. Young Ted, who wants so badly to own and run a hunting camp, is a boy he really knew, while loyal Tammie, who acts as a secret carrier of supplies and messages to Ted’s father, hiding out in the woods because the sheriff wants him on a serious charge, manipulated by his ruthless enemy, is a composite of several dogs Jim Kjelgaard has owned.
So Double Challenge is very real, besides being very exciting and moving. But then, all of Jim Kjelgaard’s books are that way…Written For Older Boys”.
Chapter headings include “The Threat, Coon Valley, A Flight of Woodcock, A Black Bear Charges, and more…”
This copy is in Very Good+ condition with a Very Good Dustjacket, which has some small chips missing at the edges. It is price clipped. Published by Dodd, Mead & Company, 1957. This is the true First Printing of The First Edition. It is not an X-library copy. A very scarce Kjelgaard tile, rarely offered in this condition. $250.
* “Big Red” is the author’s most famous novel. It is the story of a famed Irish Setter, and was made into a Walt Disney movie of the same name.
My good friend has a cabin in the woods, and if I’m real lucky, I get to spend a few days there each year.
The building is solid and stout, constructed with magnificent unpeeled logs and positioned perfectly beside an idyllic stream of impossibly clear waters. Above all, it’s quiet and protected and far from the screeching of traffic and cell phones and all of the normal worries.
One night by the campfire in this place can do wonders for the maintainance of one’s sanity and eternal soul. It’s a comfort just to be there, and a place not so easy to leave, or forget.
Birds and small creatures flit and scurry through the aspen leaves and fallen evergreen needles. Elk and mule deer come to parlay on a regular basis, and my friend and his young boy once had a much too close encounter with a mountain lion with questionable intent. The bears like the neighborhood just fine too, and they always seem to pay it a visit once they wake from their winter’s hibernation and begin their first travels.
You might say that these visits have become an annual ritual for man and bear alike, and it’s nice to know that the lumbering beasts are happy to take the time to drop on by and say hello. They seem to love to leave a calling card as well, in ever more creative ways.
Well, as you can see from the picture, you could call this a calling card all right! And no, it’s not left behind by a rider and horse or a remnant grizzly either and we did not make use of special photographic effects. It’s simply a full and natural deposit from just one big old glorious Colorado Black Bear, and I found it a few short yards from the main entrance door.
I’ve come across a lot of bear sign in my wanderings in the west and I can safely surmise that this must have come from one not so ordinary bruin. I’ve seen quite a few black bears too, and some big bears among them. But I don’t think I’ve ever run across anything close to the Colorado record of 700 plus pounds. That is until now.
Of course I will never know how big this bear could be, and any attempt to speculate would be just that. But it does give a thrill to wonder.
Regardless of its size and weight, the mere sight of what this animal left behind is more than enough to make a careful individual pause in mid heartbeat, and pause again. I can easily imagine that big ol’ boy watching from the shadows of the overhanging boughs of spruce and fir and enjoying a great big belly laugh at our expense.
I chuckle to myself when I think about that, albeit a little nervously. If he wanted to gain my full attention it was an entirely effective act.
It also makes one take a good look around with the flashlight before venturing out at night to take care of your own reluctant business.
All I can say to Mr. Bear from my current seat in the more mundane world is “Welcome Back Sir” and “Thanks for the Memories”. Your presence in the outer corners of my consciousness is a reality I won’t soon forget. I feel extremely small, yet part of something so big too, at the same time. And that is the gift of the bears.
I think of you compadre, and hope to see you soon…but then again, perhaps not.
Some acquaintances are better left undisturbed, and in my way of thinking, you are just fine wherever you are.