Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bear!

We borrowed my in-law’s camper for a weekend getaway and were having such a great time, we asked to keep the camper for the week even though I didn’t have time off from work which meant hauling my ass every morning from bliss to the daily grind.

About 9:30 at night on Wednesday, as I was reading in bed, my charmer came to me and mentioned that water had backed up in the tub.

“You could empty the tank before you leave for work in the morning,” she said.

“Nah, I won’t want to do it in the morning. I’ll take care of it now,” I told her. I get up before the sun rises and have just enough time to get myself out the door and off to work. Plus I remembered seeing in the paper that there had been coyote and bear sightings in the area and I didn’t want to take a chance of lumbering outside half asleep, reaching under the camper, and then feeling a chomp on my arm or leg.

So I put on my shoes, grabbed the flashlight, and opened the door. I took two steps down the camper stairs when I heard a growl that sounded like a demon right out of Hades. I flashed the light around and straight into the eyes of a black bear. I don’t even remember going back up the stairs and back into the camper. Perhaps, all my molecules reversed at once. All said and done, I was inside the camper in a shot, door slammed shut, and my heart pounding cartoon-style out of my chest.

“What was that?!” my charmer asked.

“That be a bear!”

I emptied the tank in the dark of the next morning, happily, without being mauled. Barely (pun intended) an hour later, Denise took this shot of the bear at the garbage bin through the camper window. She wasn’t able to get a clearer picture before it decided to search out some better pickings.

Has anybody else had a bear, or other wild animal, encounter?

21 comments:

Chudney Thomas said...

Instinct is awesome! Aren't you glad you had a flashlight?

Chris said...

Probably my second favorite thing about getting out where I live is encountering wildlife (the first favorite being just getting out!). I've encountered numerous black bears, which don't really bother me, but never a grizzly (though on a couple occasions I've crossed fresh tracks). Took a great photo of a mountain lion in a tree about a mile from my folks' house last fall; that's the only one I've ever seen, though, again, I've seen lots of tracks. Of course I've seen probably thousands of deer, and likely hundreds of elk. That's no big deal. Antelope east of here are common, though not something a lot of people see. Coyotes and foxes, too, though not a wolf (yet!). My wife saw a lynx while I was driving a year ago, up north near the Canadian border, but I missed it. That's a rare sighting, no doubt. I have seen fishers and martin, though. Bighorn sheep are common here as well; mountain goats too, if you are in the right place.

It's a favorite topic of mine, Dave -- I could go on and on.

Not counting dogs, horses, cows, and roosters (all of which have chased me at one time or another when I was a young 'un, and they sure seemed like wild animals at the time), the only critter that ever charged me with intent to trample was a moose. Those things are big and ornery. Probably the second most dangerous animal around here, next to the grizzly.

Randy Johnson said...

Never had an encounter with a bear. Your story reminds me of one my stepbrother told when his family and he lived in Florida.

A big waterway passed along behind the property. He had a fishing line in the water and an alarm rigged to go off when he got a bite. He'd ran inside for a few minutes, it was dark, so when the alarm went off, he rushed out while his wife grabbed a flashlight and followed. He was wrestling with the pole when his wife heard something and swung that light in the direction, only to be staring at a gator about five feet away.

They probably made that transition to safety in the house in the same manner you did.

They laugh about it now. Back then though...

David Cranmer said...

Chudney, I just bought a bigger flashlight. :)

Chris, I was amazed how fast a black bear can travel and that they don't growl (I added that link) according to the experts that study them. I've just missed seeing a moose on two different occasions and a lynx sighting would be awesome.

Randy, Funny after the fact for sure. Honest to Betsy I though I was going to have a heart attack.

wayne d. dundee said...

I never had a bear encounter in the wild ... but once upon a time, in my misspent youth, I wrestled a bear in a mall auditorium in front of about a thousand people. His name was Victor, he was a brown bear (although black in color), standing over seven feet tall and weighing about eight hundred pounds. Did I mention that I was also a little crazy in my misspent youth? They had a muzzle on ol' Vic so I didn't get eaten but in the end, after I'd lasted just short of two minutes and by that point was so totally exhausted all I could do was flop on the mat gasping for air, he lay on top of me and commenced licking the sweat off my face. I came away with a dislocated thumb that my wife inadvertantly sat on and popped back into place after we got back out to the car ... To this day, oversized teddy bears at carnival game tents tend to make me a little nervous ... But, oh, to be that young and crazy and invincible once again ...

Charles Gramlich said...

I imagine your molecules did reverse. You've discovered the secret of the Star Trek transporter!

vast years ago, on a campout, me and a couple of friends were asleep in our tent when we heard snuffling outside. Before we could investigate, something big 'leaned' against the tent with its paws. We became very very still and small, and it went away.

Ron Scheer said...

Great story to save for the grandkids. I've come upon bears in the Santa Monica Mountains, but the real adrenalin rush is the sound of a rattlesnake.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Reason #1 why we don't camp.

Oscar said...

A trip to Yellowstone Park years ago had bears, mooses (meese), deer, etc., but nothing since.

Dave King said...

Wow, I've heard of such before, but never quite this graphically drawn. So, after all, there are worse things out there than emptying the tank! Damn glad you survived to tell the tale!

Thomas Pluck said...

I've heard some days the bear gets you... I'm glad he didn't.
Amazing how the reptile brain takes over, isn't it? You ran and didn't know it. Some will say that is adrenaline affecting the memory, but I think the old fight or flight mechanism is pretty powerful. I've only seen black bears from my car. We have a large population of them in northern NJ, and I've seen them near camping areas.

Reb said...

I have seen black bears from the safety of the car, likewise, moose, elk, deer, coyotes, and wolves. Well, actually saw some wolves on the street in Jasper, they were on leashes though. Mountain goats and big horn sheep are common sights up here in the mountains also. A friend has told me of the only time their dog exhibited a brain while camping in a tent trailer. A bear woke them, by lifting the beds, rubbing his back on the underside. The dog didn't make a sound! Needless to say, neither did they. Oh, I had a squirrel stand on my foot once when I was camping. :)

AC said...

Used to see coyotes all the time in L.A.

David Cranmer said...

Wayne, I received a good chuckle over “he lay on top of me and commenced licking the sweat off my face.” Thanks for sharing.

I can never imagine (after this adventure) staying in a tent, Charles. Evah!

I have, Ron. And I agree it is a helluva rush.

I understand, Patti. Still camping is a lot of fun especially when you have full internet and cable TV. :)

Thomas, Pure survival instinct. Yes, flight mechanism is damn powerful.

Reb, Big laugh over the “dog didn't make a sound!” And you’re way ahead of me in animal sightings.

AC, City coyotes, huh? Cool.

John DuMond said...

Wow, that was a close call. We've had a number of bear sitings in the Albany, NY area this spring. They've been wandering into populated areas looking for food. Most of the time the bears are tranquilized and relocated. In one case, they wound up having to shoot the bear, as it kept returning to the same neighborhood and was deemed a threat.

Of my various wildlife encounters, my favorite occurred at Ft Irwin, CA. I was out running by myself one morning when I noticed movement off to my left. There was a coyote keeping perfect pace with me about 50 yards away. This being my first encounter with a coyote when I wasn't in my car, I decided to turn around and head back. The coyote turned around and kept pace with me. He stayed with me for about a half mile, then gave up. Last I saw of him, he was standing on top of a berm watching me run away.

Leah J. Utas said...

My molecules reversed just reading about your close encounter.

Sarah Laurence said...

Black bears (unlike grizzlies) aren't usually dangerous, unless they are rabid or protecting cubs, but I'd still contact animal control. In the meantime do not leave any food, including garbage and bird seed, out where the bear can get it or it will come back.

Kieran Shea said...

This and that. Scariest? Reef shark at Apple Bay on Tortolla. Saw this huge school of fish swimming right at me as I paddled up the face of a wave and right behind it--this huge mouth about the size of a basketball. Figured, yeah, I'd catch the next wave in....

David Cranmer said...

John, And he may have just wanted a new jogging partner. Or lunch. :)

Leah, I figured a Trek fan would enjoy that reference.

Sarah, We were at a campsite and I mentioned the need for more frequent garbage removal to the folks in charge.

Wise choice, Kieran. Of course I would have shit my shorts before catching that wave.

AC said...

Coyotes in L.A. come down from Griffith Park (and hopefully eat some of the rats in Koreatown!)

Barbara Martin said...

I've only seen bears from a distance, thank goodness. As a child in the campground in Banff they'd come rooting around the grabage bins.