Bear-tipping Craze Strikes Appalachia

Ursine-toppling Mania Grips Region as Hillbillies Invoke Unknown Constitutional Amendment: “The right to bear tips.”

Groggy bear emerging from den just begging to be tipped.

Fifteen miles east of Dollywood Theme Park, in the backwater hamlet of Intelligence Gap, Tennessee, Purvis Cooter is excited about Hickam County’s upcoming bear-tipping festival. Early on the rural community was in a quandary over whether to fund the festival or spend the money on electrifying the town. They chose the festival and now the annual jamboree is the town’s major source of revenue – especially since the Fotomat closed. As the sister city of Pamplona, Spain, Intelligence Gap has reformulated Pamplona’s annual Running of the Bulls and calls its version The Tipping of the Bears. In 2012 Chuck Norris kindly refused their request to be Grand Marshall. Chuck Norris doesn’t tip bears. He just points, and they go down.

Purvis Explains All

“Most of our jobs evaporated when the old catfish pond dried up,” said the 18th generation hillbilly hand-fisher. Mr. Cooter continued explaining the region’s economic woes. “And then when the Fotomat closed down in the 90’s things got really bad. If it wasn’t fer the Dairy Queen stickin’ around, we woulda had to drive all the way to Chickamauga just to get a Dilly Bar. Thank you DQ. Anyhoo, with our jobs all dried up and the Fotomat turned into a fried pickle stand we IG’s – that’s Appalachia-speak for people from Intelligence Gap – just naturally turned our attention to other amusements. We needed to find a productive way to pass the time between moonshinin’ and goin’ to Dollywood. And then my brother Stonewall struck on the idea of bear-tipping. Now that’s some good ole country funnin’. It’s now a regular hootenanny during hi-bear-nation season. Now brother Stonewall (god rest his soul) taught me a valuable lesson in respect to bear-tipping – never drink and tip. But if you do drink, make sure you bring a designated tipper.


“We noticed that roundabout March those brown bears come outta their dens real slow and deliberate-like. Now at that particular stage thems bears is what city folk might call ‘lethargic.’ It’s like they’re walking around in a daze or something. You can come right up to’em and slap’em in the face. They’s helpless – usually. Sometimes they’re just stunned in disbelief that you’d be so stupid to come right up to’em, and then after a few face slaps they’ll maul you like a rag doll. That’s why it’s so fun. You never know. You have to possess the back country wiles to know the difference between bears bein’ groggy or just playin’ possum. It also helps not to tip’em in August right after a Moonshine Crawl – damn it Stonewall, why didn’t you designate me tipper that night?


“In March however, these sleepy-ass bears are sluggishly roamin’ all over the place. The Tennessee woods is thick with them. They’re like zombies walking around all stiff. It’s like the woods are full of Al Gores. The bears are so dazed for the first few weeks you can come right up to’em and slap’em in the face – even with their own paw. In fact that maneuver is what’s known in these parts as a Full-Norris with a degree a difficulty of 2.0.


“Anyways, the bears in our nape of the woods (we don’t have necks in our woods, only napes) lose almost half their body weight during hi-bear-nation. They’re loose-skinned, scrawny creatures come Spring. They look like their wearing 3 over-sized fur coats or like they had liposuction, but no skin tightening afterwards. Sometimes I come up from behind and wrap myself in their loose fur and maybe take a picture. This maneuver is called a Double-Zsa Zsa with a degree of difficulty of 1.5. In 2013 I won the Hickam County Bear-tipping blue ribbon for tippin’ 3 groggy bears while executin’ a Full-Norris followed by a Half-Zsa Zsa – all in only 15 minutes. I woulda tipped more, but the judges just couldn’t bear it.  


“While the bureaucrats in Nashville rassle with Reconstruction and taxes, we volunteers down here on the farm like it nice and simple – the way it was. No city-slickers, no plumbing and no electricity. However, we do like to get out of the house on occasion. In fact we have to get out of the house just to relieve ourselves – at least most times we make it out there. Thank the lord for my chamber pot. I guess it’s safe to say that from where I’m standing here in Intelligence Gap, the New Deal never happened.


“Over time I’ve slowed down some in pursuing my bear-tipping passion – especially now that my new nick-name is Lefty. But I’m hopeful for the future since the producers of Duck Dynasty and Hillbilly Handfishin’ want to do a reality show with me called Country Bumpkin Bear Tippin’. I hear the show doesn’t pay very much, but the tips are tremendous.”

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