Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Spring 2012: A Brief Encounter With a Black Bear

By Danielduff84

Studies in Zoology: A Book Devoted to Animals and Animal Life at the C

I was seated on cold stone, obscured by dwarfed pine, bunch grasses, and a fragrant tangle of herbs. The morning air was just cold enough that sitting still was uncomfortable. All around the woods were beginning to awaken. Squirrels scratched along their canopy highways, sweet birdsongs were coming into tune, and a clear blue sky above suggested a fine day was ahead.

My focus was on a spot among the rocks where I knew several gravid female Horridus to be resident, and I was waiting patiently for any of them to emerge, pull themselves into a tight coil, and wait on the radiation to elevate the temperature of their gestating bodies. It is amazing how slowly they drag their length out from within their burrows. I have filmed morning egress before, and each video is about twenty to thirty minutes in length, during which the snakes are actively moving only about a fraction of the total time. The action in the films is so slow that I speed them up so as not to get board watching it. Seeing it in real life, in the beauty of the out doors, is much more thrilling.

I was busily writing environmental and climate descriptions into my notebook, when a curious sound caught my attention. On this occasion, I was particularly alerted to certain sounds since this was the morning after the night the sound of many coyotes erupted near camp and caused me to lose some sleep. I started to stand in order to see where the sound was coming from and what was causing it. Twigs snapped in succession, obviously something was walking through the adjacent wood line toward my location.

I finally picked up on a black shape moving from just within a green curtain, pierced here and there by coarse woody debris. My pulse quickened as my initial assessment of the creature was that it might be a big black feral hog, and they usually are not alone. I stood, began to gather my gear so I could leave quietly, and then I realized that it was just a black bear.

My pulse was still elevated, and naturally, I quaked a bit in the animal’s presence. I would have been more worried about a heard of pigs joining me at my seat on the mountain than I was by a bear, as a matter of fact, I welcomed the sight of this bear and the chance to film it. It continued its march until it was in full view out in front of me, and by now I was covertly video recording.

What I initially thought was that the bear would just cross the rock face in front of me, and simply re enter the woods on a bee line path; however, it turned toward me, still unaware of my presence. After only filming it for a few short seconds, I had to break my silence to inform the bear that he was not alone. I called aloud: “here bear,” which is apparently the go to vocabulary for shooing off a bear as I have gathered from locals. It looked up directly at me and I looked directly back, not budging from my spot. I figured it hadn’t quite seen me because it kept coming, swaying its head around, looking.

Not wanting to surprise the bear, I moved out of my cover and stood up as tall as possible, and repeated my taunt: “here bear”. Those that know me know that I do not stand very tall, but I was able to coerce the bear to take a different path. Just to be sure that the bear was not going to return, at least for the moment to allow me to leave, I took a few steps forward, always using my voice to encourage the bear to move along.

As much as I love seeing wild bears, I was not in love with the idea that I was hidden away for one to flush from the snags like a hunted rabbit. After hearing the bear crash off into the depths of the valley, I took my leave of this particular site and went to another location for the day.

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