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Review of The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek by

The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek

by Sid Marty

3 out of 5 stars ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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This was a gift from a friend who spent a couple of months in Banff. Books about the outdoors, much like the outdoors themselves, are not a high reading priority for me. As an outsider to this genre, however, I enjoyed reading The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek.

The first couple of chapters were somewhat dull--but then Marty began relating the events during the hunt for the eponymous bear, and suddenly the atmosphere of the book became darker and laden with suspense. I was hooked. In many ways, Marty was in a perfect position to recount the hunt. On one hand, as an experienced warden, he was familiar with both the jargon and the task at hand, so he can do the subject justice. On the other hand, as he had left the service at the time of the hunt (even though he did eventually volunteer during the hunt), Marty had sufficient distance to relate events objectively.

Marty does a good job of capturing the story from several aspects, especially when it comes to respecting the majesty of the grizzly bear. I did not much care for the fictional portions in which he puts us in the mind of the black grizzly, whom he names Sticky Mouth. But that's just a matter of personal taste--your mileage may vary. However, Marty is careful to remind us that this was not a hunt for a bloodthirsty man-killer out to eliminate humans--it was a proud animal defending itself and its territory and trying to prepare for the coming winter. "Blame" is never too far off stage in The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek, but Marty's ultimate conclusion is that the blame can't be portioned out to one person or even a select group. Rather, he offers an account of how the failures of numerous parties, including Parks Canada and the CP hotels/restaurants around Banff, contributed to the bear problem in the 1980s.

"Well-written" and "gripping" are words I'd apply to The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek. Those with more experience with the outdoors, Banff, and bears will probably take more away from this book than a neophyte like myself. But if a friend hands this book to you as a well-intentioned gift, don't leave it sitting on your shelf gathering dust. Read it and wonder if outside your door, a bear lurks.


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