“Ice Hunt will make your toes curl and your free hand clutch the armchair as you speed through the pages.”
A classic adventure from James Rollins, the author of The Doomsday Key, The Last Oracle, The Judas Strain, Black Order, and other pulse-pounding, New York Times bestselling thrillers, Ice Hunt carries readers to the top of the world, where nothing can survive…except fear.
|Product dimensions:||4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.70(d)|
About the Author
Date of Birth:August 20, 1961
Place of Birth:Chicago, Illinois
Read an Excerpt
By James Rollins
Harper Collins PublishersCopyright © 2003 James Rollins All right reserved. ISBN: 0060521562
April 6, 2:56 P.M. Brooks Range, Alaska
Always respect Mother Nature ... especially when she weighs four hundred pounds and is guarding her baby.
Matthew Pike faced the grizzly from fifty yards away. The massive she-bear eyed him back, chuffing into the breeze. Her yearling cub nosed a blackberry briar, but it was too early in the season for berries. The cub was just playing in the brambles, oblivious to the six-foot-two Fish and Game officer standing, sweating, in the afternoon sun. But the youngster had little to fear when watched over by his mother. Her muscled bulk, yellowed teeth, and four-inch claws were protection enough.
Matt's moist palm rested on his holstered canister of pepper spray. His other hand slowly shifted to the rifle slung on his shoulder. Don't charge, sweetheart ... don't make this day any worse than it already is. He'd had enough trouble with his own dogs earlier and had left them tethered back at his campsite.
As he watched, her ears slowly flattened to her skull. Her back legs bunched as she bounced a bit on her front legs. It was clear posturing, a stance meant to chase off any threat.
Matt held back a groan. How he wanted to run, but he knew to do so would only provoke the she-bear tochase him down. He risked taking a single slow step backward, careful to avoid the snap of a twig. He wore an old pair of moosehide boots, hand-sewn by his ex-wife, a skill learned from her Inuit father. Though they were three years divorced, Matt appreciated her skill now. The soft soles allowed him to tread quietly.
He continued his slow retreat.
Normally, when one encountered a bear in the wild, the best defense was loud noises: shouts, catcalls, whistles, anything to warn the normally reclusive predators away. But to stumble upon this sow and cub when topping a rise, running face-to-face into Ursus arctos horribilis, any sudden movement or noise could trigger the maternal beast to charge. Bear attacks numbered in the thousands each year in Alaska, including hundreds of fatalities. Just two months ago, he and a fellow warden had run a tributary of the Yukon River in kayaks, searching for two rafters reported late in returning home, only to discover their half-eaten remains.
So Matt knew bears. He knew to watch for fresh bear signs whenever hiking: unsettled dung, torn-up sod, clawed trunks of trees. He carried a bear whistle around his neck and pepper spray at his belt. And no one with any wits entered the Alaskan backcountry without a rifle. But as Matt had learned during his ten-year stint among the parks and lands of Alaska, out here the unexpected was commonplace. In a state bigger than Texas, with most of its lands accessible only by floatplane, the wildernesses of Alaska made the wild places of the lower states seem like nothing more than Disney theme parks: domesticated, crowded, commercialized. But here nature ruled in all its stark and brutal majesty.
Of course, right now, Matt was hoping for a break on the brutal part. He continued his cautious retreat. The she-bear kept her post. Then the small male cub - if you could call a a hundred-and-fifty-pound ball of fur and muscle small - finally noticed the stranger nearby. It rose on its hind legs, looking at him. It shimmied and tossed its head about, male aggression made almost comical. Then it did the one thing Matt prayed it wouldn't do. It dropped on all fours and loped toward him, more in play and curiosity than with any aggressive intent. But it was a deadly move nonetheless.
While Matt did not fear the yearling cub - a blast of pepper spray would surely stop it in its tracks - its mother's response was a different matter. The pepper spray would be no more than a tenderizing seasoning when her pile-driver strength pounded down on him. And forget about a head shot, even with his Marlin sport rifle. The bear's thick skull would only deflect the bullet. Not even a shot square through the heart was a safe bet. It would take ten minutes for such a shot to kill a bear, and the shooter would be bear scat by then. The only real way to kill a grizzly was to aim for the legs, bring her bulk down, then keep on shooting.
And despite the personal danger, Matt was loath to do this. The grizzlies were his personal totem. They were the symbol of this country. With their numbers dwindling to less than twenty-five thousand, he could not bring himself to kill even one of them. In fact, he had come to Brooks Range on his own personal time to help in the cataloging and DNA mapping of the parkland's population of awakening grizzlies, fresh out of winter's blanket. He had been up here collecting samples from hair traps stationed throughout the remote areas of the park and freshening their foul-smelling scent lures when he found himself in this predicament.
But now Matt was faced with the choice of kill or be killed. The cub bounded merrily in his direction. His mother growled in warning - but Matt was not sure if she was talking to him or her cub. Either way, his retreat sped up, one foot fumbling behind the other. He shrugged his rifle into one hand and unholstered his pepper spray.
As he struggled with the spray's flip top, a fierce growl rose behind him. Matt glanced over his shoulder. On the trail behind him, a dark shape raced at him, tail flagging in the air.
Matt's eyes grew wide with recognition. "Bane! No!" The black dog pounded up the slope, hackles raised, a continual growl flowing from his throat ...
Excerpted from Ice Hunt by James Rollins
Copyright © 2003 by James Rollins
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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