Saturday, February 23, 2019

Tsoma and the Mbada

Tsoma and the Mbada

a short story excerpted from

Beneath a Hunter's Sky

a collection of short fiction by John Bascom

The native African people of Zimbabwe belong to a host of age-old tribes including Shona, Tonga, Batoka, Ndebele, and Venda.  Each has its own spiritual and cultural traditions, and its own language. 
The safari district where we hunted was named for and defined on its western edge by the Chewore River.  Bounded on the north by the Zambezi River, to the east by the M'Kunga, and on the south by the Zambezi Valley Great Escarpment wall, it was completely uninhabited.  But the surrounding tribal areas were dotted with tiny subsistence villages of a few thatch-roofed, mud-walled huts each. There were no paved roads, motorized vehicles, electricity, or pure water other than what could be wrung from the seeps and elephant digs in the dry rivers.  Each village might have a band of a few goats and a small garden.  The area is unsuitable for large-scale farming or cattle.  Hunting by the native people is generally not allowed and subject to stiff legal penalties, although the meat from hunters' trophies is often donated to the villagers.  Unemployment in Zimbabwe as a whole exceeds 80 percent, much higher in these rural areas.  The life expectancy of a black Zimbabwean man is thirty-six years; longer-lived women can expect to survive to an advanced age of thirty-nine.  Mortality comes in the form of malaria mosquitoes, tsetse-borne sleeping sickness, AIDS, poisonous snakes, Nile crocs, ubiquitous lions, and assorted predators, all augmented by malnutrition and an almost complete lack of health care.
Yet despite all hardships and odds, these tribes and their villages have survived for countless thousands of years.  Africa is the undisputed birthplace of humanity.  Modern Homo sapiens first graced the Earth there more than a hundred thousand years ago.  The predecessors of modern man—”Lucy” and her kind who spent equal time in trees and on solid ground—stalked the African bush more than two million years ago.  It is safe to say every human alive today, whether their roots be European, Asian, Native American, or otherwise, descends directly from the African forerunners of these Zimbabwean villagers. 
Our field and camp staffs came largely from the Shona villages of the adjacent Dande South tribal area.  The strength and resilience of these people are inspiring.  Their practical wisdom and fascinating customs were fortifying.  While reading, writing, and mastery of English are rare among these villagers, still they have rich oral traditions that serve to teach moral and life lessons more than to simply entertain.  Our number-two tracker, Favor, was a young, fit, and cheerful man from such a Dande South Shona village.  His father having been imprisoned for choosing the losing side in one of Zimbabwe's many civil conflicts, Favor was taken in as a child and educated by Christian missionaries.  At their hand he learned passable English.  One evening after we had made a kill and were waiting for the bush-lorry to be brought in, he used that skill to share with us a Shona tale about a leopard, called “mbada,” and a bushbuck known in the local language as “tsoma.”  Given all of mankind's ancestral link to these people, the legend is as much everyone's as it is that of the Shonas.  This is the story.

he leopard had to work long and hard to catch his food.  He constantly chased and occasionally caught impala, warthog piglets, or even the odd young baboon.  He was quite good at it and his kills of this game kept him full and fit.  But these animals were not his favorite.
No, his favorite meal was the tender, delicately flavored meat of the bushbuck.  But the bushbuck was quick, clever, and elusive.  And when cornered, the small, elegant tsoma, unlike other antelope of the Chewore, would not hesitate to stand his ground and defend himself with his graceful, sharp horns.  To hunt the bushbuck was often difficult, fruitless, and dangerous.  And it distracted from his success on the easier prey.  Yet he constantly tried.  Finally, tired, discouraged, and losing weight, the mbada decided to make a deal with the bushbuck.
“Little Tsoma,” the leopard called out.  “Why should I waste my time and energy chasing you, and you waste yours eluding me?  Can we not call a truce and be friends?”
“If I agreed to such a truce,” said the bushbuck, “how could I know you would not attack me when my guard was relaxed?”
“We will strike a sacred oath before God,” the leopard said.  “Whoever shall break the truce, all their sons shall die.  God will see that it is so.  Neither of us could accept such a terrible thing.  Our truce will therefore endure.”
The bushbuck agreed.  He spent his days leisurely eating grass and leaves.  He had no need to be constantly alert nor to flee the mbada.  The leopard for his part hunted the easier prey and lounged in the trees for much of the day and night.  After a while, both became lazy and fat from lack of exertion.
One day the leopard was napping on a limb of a baobab tree just above the bushbuck sleeping below at the base of the trunk.  The leopard began to think about how tasty bushbuck meat was.  “I have no sons,” the leopard thought to himself, “only daughters.  And I am too old to have more children.  There would be no consequence in breaking the oath between us.”  He decided to pounce upon and eat the resting bushbuck.
But the leopard had grown weak and sluggish from little activity.  He stood up and sprang at the bushbuck too slowly.  The tsoma caught the motion from the corner of his eye in time to swiftly lift his head.  The leopard fell directly onto the raised long, sharp horns, completely impaling himself.
“Mbada,” the bushbuck said, “why did you break our bond?  Will not your sons now die?”
“I have no sons, Tsoma,” said the dying leopard, “and would have no more.  So the prophecy would never have been fulfilled.  But now you have killed me.”
“No,” said the bushbuck.  “It is your father who killed you.  You see, he made a similar bond with my father.  And your father broke it by killing mine.  Now the prophecy is completed with your death.  My role was never to kill you, but only to assist you in fulfilling the destiny put upon you by your father.  It has long been the duty of all bushbucks to help others fulfill their destinies.”
With that the leopard died, and the bushbuck lived to a ripe old age, siring many sons and daughters.

Read Tsoma and the Mbada and eighteen other stories of hunting, fishing, the outdoors, adventure and coming of age in John Bascom's collection of stories, Beneath a Hunter's Sky, available at Amazon

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Toxic Masculinity on HardWired News

Our satirical blog, HardWired News, has tackled the problem of Toxic Masculinity with tongue firmly in cheek.

Check out the hilarious full article at

HardWired News © is an imprint of Canniche Cove Publishing LLC

Sunday, February 10, 2019



by John Bascom
from the collection Beneath a Hunter's Sky

hat would you like to do with your time off?” Laura asked.  I had one unused week from my prior year's vacation allotment that would be lost if I didn’t use it by the end of April.  Time was running out.
“Honestly?  What about bone fishing in the Bahamas.  The weather is warm and sunny this time of year, and you'd love seeing the flats around Andros Island.  Where Jack Verdon and I went.”
“Is it nice there?  Where would we stay?”
“Jack and I were at the Bonefish Club on the North Island.  It's Spartan but clean and comfortable.  Last time he went by himself, though, he tried a different place.  Where the accommodations were more basic, but there's less fishing pressure and the action is better.”
“But it's next week.  Is it even possible?”
“Won't hurt to give it a try.”
“If you say so,” Laura said.

I Googled it and came up with a phone number.  The basic website confirmed it was the one Jack had mentioned, on Littlesalt Cay by the south bite.
“Motleytown Deluxe Resort an' Bonefish Lodge.  Lindsey Motley.”  A man's voice answered with the classic Bahamian dialect I had come to know during my visits there.
After identifying myself and exchanging a few pleasantries, I said, “Yeah.  My wife and I are looking to come down there for a little bone fishing.  Is that something we could set up with you?”
“Oh…ya, mon.  Bonefish, dey be our specialty.”
“I was thinking of a few days next week.” 
There was a long silence.
Finally, “No, Suh.  We all full.  Duh guess, dey mus book tree, usually six muns ahead.  Sometime a year.  No way nex week.”  His voice sounded both incredulous and irritated at my stupidity.
“Look,” I said.  “I'm only talking a night or two.  And we're flexible.  We could pop down anytime next week.  Is there anything ...?”
“Jus one minute, Suh…”  I could hear him flipping pages in what I imagined was a reservation register.
After a few seconds he came back on the line.  “We may put you in duh annex, Suh.  Dey iz one vacancy dere.  But yas mus come Tuesday and be gone by Tursday in duh mornin.  Dot be okay?”

I was able to book a charter in a beat-up old four-passenger twin out of Fort Lauderdale, direct to Motleytown, Andros Island.  I sat in front to the pilot's right, while Laura rode in one of the backseats.  The upholstery was worn through with a few wads of remaining stuffing poking out.  Black crankcase oil flowed in a little rivulet from a crack in the right engine cowling back and into the airstream.  The paint, what was left of it, was faded, scratched, and worn through.  Little bare-aluminum riveted repair patches dotted the metal skin.  The radio the pilot used—apparently the only one working among the aging relics—was held in place beneath the instrument panel by nylon tie-wraps.  Bundles of wires wound everywhere.  We were out of sight of land.
“Is this safe,” Laura said in a weak voice, more a concerned statement than a question.
Our final approach to the short and narrow crushed-shell airstrip was over a wet marsh.  A wrecked Seneca II twin, much like one I had trained in back in the day, sat half-submerged a few hundred yards short of the runway, its engines gone and doors sprung unnaturally forward.
“Been there more'n twenty years,” our pilot commented.  “Longer'n I've been comin' here.”
We hopped out and walked to the little open-sided wooden pavilion where a heavyset, squat and bald black Bahamian stood waiting.  His red cap, peaked in front like those that elevator operators wore when there still were any, had the word CUSTOMS across the front.  A wooden, crudely hand-lettered sign nailed crooked to a post announced, WELCOME TO THE BAHHAMMAS, the name of the country clearly misspelled. 
We signed a form and showed our passports while the pilot offloaded our luggage.  That pretty well completed our official reception.
“A cab was supposed to meet us,” I said to the agent.
“Over dere, Suh,” he said, pointing to a rusty, unmarked vintage car a few yards behind the pavilion.  There was no one in it.
We carried our gear to the vehicle and looked around.  The customs agent had followed.  He opened the driver's side, slid behind the wheel, removed the customs hat, and donned a similar but yellow one that read CAB across the front.  Laura and I looked at each other, loaded our luggage, and hopped in the back.
“I Lindsey Motley,” the driver said as we pulled away.  “Welcome ta Motleytown.”

The Motleytown Deluxe Resort & Bonefish Lodge was an aging, two-story mortar structure like those of the bygone fifties-era motels one sees in the dying beach towns of mid-Florida's Atlantic coast.  The once-whitewashed exterior was stained with gray streaks and blotches.  Inside, the wooden floor was darkened and uneven.  What served as a registration desk sat along one wall in the small combination lobby-bar. 
After Lindsey checked us in, he said, “Ya care for a drink from duh bar before goin to yas room?”  He motioned to the dark, old wooden bar along the opposite wall, its veneer warped and separating in places.
“Sure.  I'll have a vodka and tonic.”
“White wine, please,” Laura said.
He walked behind the bar and placed a conch-colored baseball cap on his head that read Motleytown Deluxe Resort, and under it, BARTENDER, all in brown letters.
We sat on unsteady barstools and sipped the drinks that were particularly refreshing after our daylong travels.
“What ya like fer ya suppuh, and at what time ya eat?” Lindsey asked.
“Whenever and whatever your other guests are doing is fine with us,” I said.  “We'll go with the program.”
“Ah…Suh…,” he said.  “Ya an duh Missus be duh only guess.  Iz fer ya ta say.”

Our quarters on the second floor were accessed by an exterior wooden stairway.  There was a bedroom, sitting room, and bath, all surprisingly spacious.  The floors were peeling linoleum tile squares, the walls stained plaster with a few holes punched here or there.  The door jambs were all out of square.  The toilet stool had gaps between its base and the tile, the plumbing visible in the floor below.
“Nice,” Laura said, her sarcasm obvious enough.
“Lindsey said the fishing skiff will be across the street by the pier off the beach in the morning.”  I was trying to change the subject.  “We'll meet our guide there, I guess, around eight sharp.  After breakfast.  I checked, and the weather should be fine.”
She nodded glumly.  It was a bad sign.
We arrived in the dining room for supper just off the lobby at the appointed time, seven in the evening.  It was still bright outside.
Lindsey walked into the room wearing a French-style, high and puffed white chef's hat.  Red lettering around the band said Kiss the Cook.
“What I fix ya fer tonight?” he said with a happy smile.
“So you're the cook, too!” I said.  “Hope you're getting paid for all this.”
“Da regla cook be from Arizona,” he said.  “Was in duh prison dere.  He gun leff hare sudden lass night.  Dey find him, I tink, he hadda go ver fass.  I take care'ah yas, doe.”
I hadn't seen a server, either.  “You the waiter, too?”
“Waitress be duh girlfrien.  Har goin wit dot mon, duh cook.  I bring ya duh food, okay?”
“A lot for one fellow to do.”
“My brudder, Umfry.  He be over ta Nassau today, but gun come hare tonight.  He duh big boss, duh owner.  He help me out when he get hare.”
“So Humphrey's the owner of the Motleytown Deluxe Resort?” I said more than asked, clearly pronouncing the “H”.
“Umfry,” Lindsey said.  No “H”.
“It be Umfry.”
“How do you spell it?”
“Umfry,” he repeated, not spelling out each letter.
“Okay, then,” I said.

Dinner was a surprisingly nice, fresh yellowtail snapper with rice and beans.  We enjoyed a good tossed salad with a cookie and coffee for desert.
The bed was lumpy but passable.  Laura and I both read for a while, she dozing off and me getting up to use the bathroom.  I opened the door from our bedroom to the main room and switched on the light.  The biggest cockroach I'd ever seen scuttled away under the glare of the single bare bulb.
I swear I could have thrown a saddle over him and broke him right there.  But I took the book I was carrying and hurled it down on him.  It was a perfect hit, the book landing flat and hard directly on the squirrel-sized insect with a loud bang.
“Bingo!” I thought.  “One roach down.”
The thick hardcover novel bounced off the bug.  It continued on unfazed, as if nothing had happened.  I grabbed the book from the floor and gave chase, intending to administer another crushing blow.  The cockroach scurried beneath the wide gap under the bathroom door.  In fast pursuit, I threw it open in time to see him dive beneath the toilet base through the gap in the floor.
“Damn!” I said out loud.  I used the toilet quickly, one eye on the opening, then returned to bed, careful to close the doors behind.  I never said a word to Laura. 
After breakfast Lindsey confirmed we were to take our things to the pier directly across the dirt main street, the harbor road of Motleytown.
“Umfry, he gun be hare dis night,” Lindsey told us as we rose to go to our room and collect our gear.
“Fine,” I said.  I thought I remembered him saying last evening Umfry would be here this morning, but I really couldn't see what difference it made to us either way.

The beach was a heaping mound of broken, pink and white conch shells that stretched along the shore as far as one could see.  A collection of aging wooden boats rode at anchor a few yards off the beach.  Near the end of a sagging, twisted wooden pier sat a classic sixteen-foot or so bone fishing skiff with a forty-horse Johnson outboard, a level casting deck across the bow, and a poling platform extending on legs above the stern.  There were three plastic bucket-type seats.  No one was around.
We waited for ten minutes.  With no guide in sight, we began loading our tackle and day-bags.  “Maybe Umfry was supposed to be the guide,” I said absently to Laura.  Then I saw Lindsey ambling, big and awkward, down the pier.  As he drew close, I could see the dark blue lettering on his white baseball cap.  GUIDE, it read.
We took off across the harbor on a splendid, sunny Caribbean day, the water gin-clear but reflecting from the sky—from the varying depths and bottom-cover—lovely hues of blue, green, tan, or a mixture of different shades and intensities.  The deeper trenches, channels, or holes in the bottom were well defined in very dark, sometimes midnight blue.  The breeze was light and our mood fine.
About fifteen minutes out, a few miles from shore, a large, gray shadow floated across the shallow bottom fifty or so yards off our beam.  “What's that fish?” I asked Lindsey.
“Dot be ver big hammerhead,” he said.  “Dey dangerous.”
Perhaps a half mile beyond the hammerhead shark, I noticed a man standing in a small boat and waving his arms frantically.  I pointed.
“Dot fella, he boat be broke.  He want duh ride back home,” Lindsey said.  It was obvious he had seen the boat well before I had.  He motored on, clearly intending to ignore the man and his plight.
“Go on over there,” I said.
We pulled alongside the stranded skiff.  Its outboard engine cover had been removed and was in the water, tied to a fraying length of old rope as some kind of makeshift sea anchor.  The bay was shallow enough to see the sand bottom a dozen or so feet down.  The interior of the old wooden boat held standing water.  There was no spare gas can or oars to be seen.
The two Bahamians exchanged a few rapid, unintelligible words in their local, oddly cadenced dialect.
“He say he be stranded duh night,” Lindsey explained.  “Motor be broke.  He come from duh fishin trawler out by duh deep ta go ta Motleytown, see duh girlfrein little while.  Dot hammerhead, go roun dot boat all duh night.  Want duh ride in.  I say ta dot boi, no, I got duh clients, a meestuh an madam.”  He started the engine and began to pull away.
“Hold on,” I said.  “It's only fifteen minutes back.  Tell him to hop in.  We'll take him to the pier.”
The stranded fellow beamed from ear to ear as he climbed into our boat.
“Tank you, tank you,” he smiled, taking my hand in his and pumping it.  “What kine-ah fish ya like.  I bring ya some fer yas suppuh.  Ta duh resort were ya be.”
“Gotta love fresh grouper,” I said.
“Sure…sure, duh grouper be good.  Be dere fer ya dinner dis night.  Tank you.  Tank you.”

Across the bay, our stranded sailor safely back at the pier, Lindsey cut the engine and poled the skiff slowly among the mangroves.  We searched the shallow, clear water for any moving shadows that might signal bonefish.
“Dere, dere Meestuh Rob.”  Lindsey strained to bend at the waist to keep his profile low and set the pole.  The boat twisted about the pivot point of the pole held into the bottom.
“Where?”  The boat was turning.  Finally I saw the three gray moving forms gliding beneath the surface forty yards to our right.
“Look there!” I said to Laura.  “About one thirty, moving parallel to shore, toward us.  Cast well in front of them so they won't spook and scatter.”
Laura had one of my spinning rods with a pink lead-head jig, the hook baited with just of bit of crab Lindsey had brought, just enough to give the lure some scent and flavor.  She tossed it only twenty yards out to the side.  I doubt she saw the barely visible fish, but the jig landed right in their path.
“Let it sink and lie on the bottom.  Don't move it, and stay low,” I said.  I could feel the excitement building.
The three bonefish moved to within a few feet of her motionless lure.
“Barely twitch it,” I said.
She moved the tip of her rod slightly as one of the shadows approached the very spot where her bait had splashed into the water less than a minute earlier.  Her rod bent sharply as the drag began to sing.
“Fish on!” I half shouted and laughed.
The fish made a hard fifty-yard run before stopping but still keeping Laura's rod tip bent well down.
“Work him back in,” I said.  “Lift the rod and reel as you lower it again.  And keep the line tight.”
About ten yards from the boat, the bone made another run, not as long this time.  She repeated the process of pumping him in.  The whole thing was repeated one more time.  As she brought the fish alongside the final time, I reached in and scooped him up with a hand.  He was about a three-pounder.
“I had no idea they were so strong.”  She was grinning and looking at her fish.
“He had a lot of fight in him for his size.”
“Is he a big one?”
“Fairly good,” I fibbed.
“He took so much line, I thought I'd run out.”
“You did great.”
“Let's take him back for dinner.”
“I'm afraid catching them is just for fun.  They're not good eating.  Like the name suggests, too many bones.”
I removed the jig hook and carefully slipped him into the water.  He took just seconds to recover before swimming quickly away.  Lindsey went back to poling the skiff, but after a few minutes, there was noisy splashing in the water near the shoreline where we had released the fish.
“Shark get him,” Lindsey said.  “Dey smell da blood an follow afta dem like duh houn-dog.”
Lindsey's poling was lackadaisical.  He stopped to rest and look around frequently.  We moved between the mangroves and up a little tidal creek.
“What's this creek called?” I asked him.
“Dot be Freshwater Creek.”
“It's the same name as the one on North Andros up near the Bonefish Club where I fished before.”
“Ya, Meestuh Rob.  Dey all be called dot cause duh water be fresh, not duh seawater.”
Even with our slow pace and periods of inactivity, Laura and I each caught several more bonefish.  She continued with her spinning rod and jig, while I used a sturdy saltwater fly rod I'd brought with a bulging-eyed pink shrimp imitation.  At one point I spotted a very long shadow lying just below the surface over slightly deeper blue water.
“Is that a bone?”
“Barracuda,” Lindsey said.  “Dey like duh needlefish dot be on dis flat.  Take dot rod dere and cass at him.”
A sturdy spinning rod lay beside the seats along one freeboard.  It was baited with a long, lime-green tube-lure made of colored rubber surgical tubing slipped over a wire leader.  A lead weight capped one end of the tube, and three treble-hook gangs, attached to the wire leader beneath, protruded at intervals through the tubing along its length.
My cast was about a dozen yards beyond the cuda and a few yards in front of what I took to be the shape of his head.
“Reel fass, Meestuh Rob.  Fass as ya can!”
I cranked with all the speed I could muster.  As the lure approached the spot where I had last seen the fish, the water seemed to explode.  The rod pulled parallel to the surface before I could haul it back and create the proper bend.  I worked the fish to the boat, overcoming long runs, hard pulls, and lots of thrashing.  Finally Lindsey used a gaff to bring him aboard in the stern beneath the poling platform.
“Our guess doan eat dese,” he said.  “But we boil dem ta get duh poison out.  Den dey vere fine.”
We had seen many rays and small sharks gliding over the bonefish flats.  Big starfish lay along the bottom.
“What kind of sharks are these?” Laura asked at one point.
“Dey san sharks, Madam,” Lindsey said.
“Do they bite?”
“Oh, no, Madam.  Dey mosely eat duh crab or udder fish.”
“Can we try to catch one?”
Lindsey lazily poled the skiff up a brackish creek with the tide flooding in.  He anchored in the channel and baited the big spinning rod with a plain treble-hook and chunk of meat from the head of our barracuda.  He handed the rig to Laura.
“Hole duh hook about tree feet above duh bottom, Madam.”
It couldn't have been ten minutes before the rod bent double and the drag began to run out.  Laura fought the fish for another twenty minutes or so, using our techniques for the cuda and bonefish.  Finally she pulled the head of a nice sand shark just clear of the surface beside the boat.  We could see through the clear water it was something over four feet in length.
“My gosh, look at that shark!” Laura said.  She was squirming in her seat from excitement.
Lindsey had grabbed the gaff.
At that point the fish opened its mouth wide, lunged from the water, and bit hard.  The braided steel line separated beneath its teeth like string.  The shark fell back into the creek and disappeared, leaving the frayed, kinked end of the wire leader dangling in the breeze.  I think Laura was more thrilled by the dramatic and violent escape than hooking her shark and bringing it boatside. 
Lindsey brought in the anchor and poled the skiff a few yards to a sandbar on the edge of the creek.  He beached the boat.
“I be goin get more crab back in duh mangroves,” he said.  “Yas rest here one minute an haf ya lunch.”  He disappeared.
“I guess he's a good guide,” Laura said after he was safely out of earshot.  “We've each got bonefish, there was your barracuda, and then my shark.”
“He poles in slow motion.”  I measured my words, not wanting to throw cold water on the trip I had put together for us.  “Rupert up at the Bonefish Club on North Andros works three times as hard.  We cover way more ground and he spots lots of fish.  I'm sure we missed a ton.  And there are no rest stops with Rupert.”
We enjoyed the sack lunches Lindsey had provided and took in the beautiful scenery.  It was a half hour before he finally returned with no crabs.
We poled and waded flats for the balance of the afternoon, landing another bonefish each before returning sunburned and wind-drained to Motleytown.  Dinner was more yellowtail snapper like the previous evening.  It came as no surprise our rescued seaman hadn't shown with the promised grouper.  Still, the evening was good.
“Umfry, he be hare in duh mornin,” Lindsey said as we left the table and headed up to our room.
Laura and I just looked at each other.  She rolled her eyes.
“Sure,” I said to Lindsey.

In our room, we packed most of our things for our charter back in the morning.  We read until well after dark.  The only bar in town, a ramshackle place just next door with warped plywood over some of the broken-out windows, rang with talk and shouting and laughter.  Soon the raucous group of locals spilled into the dirt street beneath our window.
“It may be a long night,” I said.
“I'm so tired I'm sure I'll drift right off and sleep like a log,” Laura said.
“Do you think there really is an Umfry?”
“Maybe he's Loa, the invisible voodoo spirit,” she laughed.
“Or Lindsey's imaginary friend.”
“Maybe Lindsey is Loa,” she kidded.
“Or the real Umfry using an assumed identity.  Maybe he's the fugitive cook from Arizona who has murdered the real Motleys.”
“Honestly, though, even with everything it was spectacular out there.  I never could have imagined.”
“We actually did fairly well on the fish.”
“It's one thing to see a place, like on a tour.  But to actually be in it, participating in what it's all about, that's something altogether different.”
“We'll remember this better than if we had been at a first class place like the Bonefish Club.”  Both of us broke out in laughter.
We had undressed and were sitting on the edge of the bed.  I reached over and laid my hand on hers.
“I had such a wonderful time,” she said.  “With you.  I'm so glad you arranged this, with the short notice and all.”
“Speaking of which…” I said.  “I'll have more vacation in a month.”
“And just what would you like to do?”  She arched her eyebrows.
“Actually, I've always dreamed of a hunt in Africa.  And it's getting nice now.  In May.  The rainy season has ended.”
“Are there decent accommodations?  Where in the world would you have us stay?”  She sounded skeptical, and I knew she was toying with me.
“If we're talking about next month, the good places are already booked.  They're tied up a year, two years in advance.  All right, sometimes three.  But I heard about a new place.  Pretty basic, but less well known and off the beaten path.  A little rougher, really, but the hunting is supposed to be better.”
“Is that even possible?  To arrange something like that with so little time…”  She lay down on her side and pulled the sheet up.
“Wouldn't hurt to give it a try.  I'll call tomorrow night when we're home.”
She raised up on an elbow, smiling, and kissed me lightly on the lips.  “Nice try, but not a chance, Mister.”  Then she switched off the light.

Read The Motleytown Bonefish Extravaganza and eighteen other stories of hunting, adventure and the outdoors in John Bascom's book, Beneath a Hunter's Sky, available at Amazon

Friday, October 23, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Alaska Goat & Sitka Hunts VIDEOS of Curt Kendall and Guide Eli Lucas

Curt Kendall is the son-in-law and sometime hunting partner of "Beneath a Hunter's Sky" author, John Bascom.

Kendall (right) with author Bascom above the falls on Slick Crick, Kuiu Island

Kendall was the inspiration for the book's short story, "Undeliverable", a humorous and fictionalized recount of their bear hunting trip together on Kuiu Island, Alaska.  He has now returned from a guided but otherwise solo mountain goat hunt in southeast Alaska.

Check out his VIDEO of the goat hunt with guide Eli Lucas; and also their sitka deer hunt

Saturday, June 27, 2015


John Bascom

"A wounded African lion faces-off with his tormentors just as all hell is about to break loose in "The Hundredth Lion". And in the allegorical tale, "Bear Hunt," a man comes to grips with his own natural mortality as he confronts a deadly, stalking Alaskan brown bear on Chichagof Island. These are some of the offerings in John Bascom's unique nineteen-story collection of short fiction about dangerous game hunting, fishing, adventure, and coming of age in his book, "Beneath a Hunter's Sky." Combining drama, humor, and nostalgia, Bascom pulls from his real-life experiences on safari in Zimbabwe, fishing in the Caribbean, and bear hunting in Alaska as he weaves his fictional tales with craftsmanship and emotion."

Table of Contents

Author's Note                                       v

In Africa                                              9
A hunter comes to understand the
most important things in his life as 
he faces lethal game in Botswana

Bear Hunt                                           41
The distinction between failure and
success is redefined in this allegory
of a hunter grappling with life and
death in southeastern Alaska

Undeliverable                                      69
Two hapless hunting partners see their
shared adventure very differently

Molly & Me                                          95
An alienated divorced father and
his daughter reconnect and heal
on a fishing trip to Beaver Island

Chewore Safari Journal                       115
An eleven story novella of the
author's hunting safari in the
Zambezi Valley of Zimbabwe

         Renewal by the Chenje                        115
        Tsoma and the Mbada                          131
        Trial by Fire                                         137
        Joy & Mourning among the Mopanes      159  
       Whack 'em, Stack 'em, Pack 'em           177
        Bere and Mbada                                   187
        The Gray Ghost                                    195  
        The Widow-Maker                                 205
        Fear & Death above the M'Kunga           227
        The End of a Thing                               249
        A New Beginning                                  253  

The Fight of the Century                      261
A shy, scrawny young boy fights a                        
notorious tough in the 1950s and
wins closure with his father
The Hundredth Lion                            285
An arrogant client is paired with a
disapproving professional hunter
as they face a deadly lion

The Church of the Epiphany                 309
A Vietnam veteran father and his
son just returning from Afghanistan
share a legacy of wartime trauma

The Motleytown Bonefish
Extravaganza                                      327
A couple on a hastily arranged
bone fishing trip find themselves 
in an odd place with eccentric people

Beneath a Hunter's Sky, by John Bascom, is a collection of short stories about hunting, fishing, Africa, Alaska, and dangerous game.  At 348 pages, it is was ranked #1 by Amazon when released in the category of short stories.  Look for it in print and as a Kindle or Nook eBook on or Barnes&