Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Black Bear Encounters On The Rise
As we get into camping season, summer vacation and day trips, we will start to see more and more encounters with black bears. For me, I hope to encounter a few when I have my bow in hand during early September. I just read the article below (direct from the Outdoor Pressroom) about a man getting bit on the ear while he slept in his tent.

I used to bike down this path by the Erie Canal where a bear was spotted just last week

I have my own bear story for you that will hopefully help you plan a safe camping or hunting trip. As many of you know, I was born and raised in western New York State. We didn't have too many bears in my area. There were always rumors, but we had never seen one nearby. I went camping with a former girlfriend years ago in the Adirondack mountains. It was a primitive camp, at least to her, but to me it had too many people. We set up camp, hiked around the lake and then cooked a wonderful meal. When we got ready to go to sleep I asked her if she had any food in her bag. 

'Just had a granola bar,' she said.

"Take ANY food out of the tent and put it in the trunk of the car."

'Why?' was her only question.

I proceeded to scold her for not thinking clearly and then I realized she probably had no idea what the dangers were. So I explained the dangers and we went to sleep.

I awoke at 3am by the sound of our neighbor chopping wood for the fire.

"Who the hell is chopping wood at 3am? WTF! Doesn't he realize it's 3am. I am going to give that SOB a piece of my mind." 

The guy was also cussing and yelling at his wife. At 3am, dude? Really? Come on! He loudly told her that she left a loaf of bread on the cooler and should have put it away. I didn't think anything of it at first. Ok, the guy was pissed and he'd get over it. I got back in the tent figuring he'd shut up.

It was then that I heard these frightening words, 'Git! Git out of here bear! Go on, git!' That's when I realized the chopping wood sound was actually a black bear lifting and slamming the cooler in the back of this guys truck. 

"We need to get to the car now. We shouldn't be out in the open with that idiot next door."

The next 5 seconds will always make my hair stand on end. Even as I write this line and think back on it I have goose-bumps. I opened the tent door, looked around with the flashlight and there she was. Glowing eyes not 20 feet from the tent door. The growl she let out scared the hell out of me and turned my legs to jelly. The bad news for me was all I could make out was the shape of the bear and that was it. Oh, there was plenty of light from the fire he had going, but I had forgotten my glasses in my haste. Fear now turned to survival mode. I told my tent-mate to get up and get to the car. I will never forget the next words out of her mouth. 'I can't find my flip-flops!' The fear I had turned to disbelief. "Forget the f'ing flip-flops and get your ass to the car NOW!" I hissed. I got out of the tent and started making noise and praying that the bear was leaving or gone.

We sat, wide-awake for the next 3 hours as I waited for the bear to come back. I was tired, pissed off at our neighbor and happy that we were both safe. Seeing as we were both up we decided to take a drive around the area. Wouldn't you know that a mile away from camp we ran into a sow and her cub coming from a camping area. I drove to the ranger station and explained what had happened the previous night. I could tell this guy was either a newbie or a total lazy-ass because he just sat there and told me it happens. He said I had nothing to worry about. Now, I know I was frightened, but I knew that bears come back if there is food and I didn't want to be there if they weren't going to do something. Reluctantly, the park worker decided to call the ranger and said he would talk to the neighbor. 

We got back to camp, cooked and ate breakfast and cleaned up. I was on high-alert the entire time. As I put the food away and the ex-girlfriend dried the dishes I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I quickly drew myself to my full 5' 10", 220lb frame as the bear crested the lip of our camp which was only 40 feet from our tent. The bear had actually been a little closer to me that I thought the night before. Wouldn't you know that the neighbor was cooking bacon and she had her nose right up in the air looking at his campsite. I knew this was the same bear. That's when I saw the cub appear. No bigger than a small dog, the cub walked up to the sow and started playing. I start yelling at the bear and clanging pans. The bear stands there and gives me time to reach in my pocket and get my camera. My hands were shaking and the shots were blurry. I look over and what does the ex do? She obviously learned NOTHING the night before as she walks toward the sow, squeeking her lips and saying 'Come here little guy.' I lost it and won't share exactly what I said as it'll sound pretty rough. I was fuming at her. She said they were cute and she wanted to see them up close. To this day I can't believe that happened. I continued to clang pans and yell at the bear as she and the cub took off. I watched the cub climb a tree about a two-hundred yards away and the mother stopped to look back at me.

In the next 3 hours we packed up and headed home. I was not about to encounter the bear again the next night and I knew I wouldn't sleep a wink anyway.

Now every time I camp and hike in bear country I bring a can of bear spray, an airhorn (pocket-sized) and think about what food I have and where it's at. I think about the safety of whomever is with me, my own safety and I have the ranger station phone number in my phone. Just like a Boy Scout, be prepared. It could save your life.


  1. LOL @"Come here little guy." Some people just don't get it do they? There is nothing more fierce on the face of the planet then a Momma bear when it comes to her cubs! (at least that's my option)

    Great post and very good reminders on how to stay safe when it comes to camping in bear country. Bears are all for work smart, not hard when it comes to food that's for sure!

  2. They already very less numbers hence they should not be encounter at such a high number.