A Charging Black Bear: An All-Time Great Aikens Prank
Oct. 08, 2016
With friends like that, who needs enemies? That saying might have crossed Desmond Smith’s mind after he fell victim to one of the all-time greatest pranks in Aikens Lake history.
As our friends and guests know, we love having fun at Aikens. So when Desmond’s fishing buddies contacted us a few weeks before their trip asking us if we’d help pull off a practical joke for the ages, we were all in.
Here’s the deal: Desmond had let it slip once or twice on prior trips that he was a bit apprehensive about bears. We’ve never had any issues at Aikens, but of course one hears a random story in the news once in a while or see the occasional wilderness movie with a dramatic bear scene, like the famous footage in The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, that can fuel the imagination.
Not wanting to miss a chance to playfully poke Desmond, his friends enjoy talking up the possibility that as they continue to return to Aikens and the Canadian wilderness over the years it’s “only a matter of time” before they run into a bear.
Before their most recent trip, Desmond’s buddies shipped a life-size bear costume up to Aikens and a plan was set in motion to stage a fake bear encounter guaranteed to freak out Desmond. Our entire staff was giddy about the idea at hand––not just the university students, but Pit and Julie as well (no surprise there, right?).
Jonny, one of the dockhands, was selected to play the part of the bear. He received extensive training from Pit and Pat on how to paw at the ground, grunt and crawl around behind bushes to look realistic. Actually, the costume resembled a gorilla more than a bear, but in the cover of the woods and with Johnnie’s award-winning acting performance, it would do the trick.
On the big day, we snuck Jonny out to the shorelunch station where Desmond’s group would be eating later. Pat was the other key player in the prank, as he was the group’s guide that day. When noon came he motored over to the pre-arranged shorelunch site and started filleting fish.
Jonny made a few grunting sounds from the wounds and Pat reacted perfectly, glancing around the woods. When the noises resumed, Pat subtly asked, “What’s that?”
“What?” asked one of the other guys in the group as Pat looked around some. By now, Desmond’s curiosity was piqued.
Jonny crawled closer, and you could now see him behind a tree pawing at the ground on all fours. According to his fishing buddies, Desmond appeared quite nervous.
“It’s a bear!” someone yelped. Jonny cocked his head to the side and stared at the group. Then he made his move and charged the group.
“Oh my gosh, it’s happening!”
In an instant the gig was up and everyone burst out laughing. They say Desmond’s voice got very high-pitched during those final few moments, and one of the guys discretely recorded the incident with his phone.
Desmond maintains he wasn’t fooled for a second. “Oh, I knew all along,” he claimed, trying to convince the others … and perhaps himself.
True to his character, Desmond was a great sport over the prank, taking it in stride and laughing with the gang.
“The story is now legendary here in the states,” Desmond says. “We still laugh about it all the time.”
To us at Aikens, that means the prank was a success. When our guests visit, we want to show them the best time possible––and we love having fun right along with them.
After all, a great fishing trip is about much more than just great fishing. Laughter, memories with friends and the occasional fake bear all contribute to a great vacation.