Bear Encounters - Part 2

See part 1 for the first half of this story

               I have never been attacked by a bear for which I am very grateful, but I’ve been very close to bears, way too close for comfort, and I did not like the feeling at all. My brothers and I walked right into a big grizzly at night in a rainstorm. We were un-armed. We had been fishing and all we had were our poles and a flashlight. Fortunately for us, the bear did not attack but ran off, and so did we. But I’ll never forget being face to face with a large grizzly, he stood up on his hind legs just staring into the beam of my flashlight, he was probably no further away than 30 feet. I still cringe when I think about it. If he had a mind to he could have mauled us, maybe even killed us, we were totally defenseless. The light shining in his eyes was a big surprise to him, and saved the day, and I thank God for sure also.

            I was very close one time to a large, very fat, cinnamon colored black bear. He never saw me. He was eating sarvis berries and choke cherries. He was so busy eating that I walked within 20 yards or so. He had the most beautiful glossy coat of fur, and I was tempted to take him with my bow (I was archery hunting for deer) but I decided against it which I’m glad now I did).  But had I shot and missed or wounded him who knows what I would have faced, and I had no back up firearm, and I was alone. It was actually comical to watch him eating the berries. He would reach up with one paw and sort of rake all the berries toward his open mouth, which he positioned below the heavily fruit laden branch. The berries would drop down into his mouth, plop, plop, plop. He would slurp and chew, and smack his lips, then repeat the process with the next limb.  It was fun to watch, but I snuck out of there to a safer distance up in some pines, but I was glad when he left, it made me nervous being that close to a big bear without a heavy duty fire arm.

            My good friend Kent Frisby and I were hunting deer one fall with our bows, and walked into a place where a big grizzly had raked a tree with its’ claws, probably to sharpen them, or maybe mark his territory. He left long blond hairs stuck in the bark. The claw marks were higher than we could reach. I was probably 5’11” at the time. Well as far as we were concerned we wanted him to have all the territory he wanted, and we exited the canyon. Again, we had no back up firearm.

            My college roommate, Bill Bowman from Palmer, Alaska, was a big game guide up there and had the sad experience of having one of his hunters mauled by a grizzly. He lived but barely survived. He was med-evac’ed out by chopper. He wounded a grizzly and it went down into a thick stand of alders. They waited for quite a while. Bill wanted to wait longer and listen, but the hunter got impatient and wanted to go after the bear. Bill said no, it was best to wait, several hours if necessary. Bill was in no hurry. Finally the hunter accused Bill of being afraid and said he’d go alone. Bill said, “You’re darn right I’m afraid, a wounded grizzly is nothing to mess with, let’s give him plenty of time.”  “I ain’t waitin’ any longer,” the hunter announced and just took off into the alders. It wasn’t long till Bill heard the screams and gun fire.  Then he was forced to go in. The bear worked the man over terribly and left, the man was fortunate to live, and Bill too I think.

            My neighbor up river a few miles from me, was just hiking in the woods, across the river from his house, when he inconveniently walked into the middle of an elk kill. A cow and calf were dead on the ground. About the time he realized it was the work of a bear, it was too late. A large sow grizzly came out of hiding and charged him, she had two cubs with her, who just stood watching. He ran for a large fir tree and got behind it as she approached.  She came around one side of the tree and he went around to the opposite side. They played ring around the rosy for a few seconds, then she became nervous and ran back to her cubs. He ran up hill to a large rock out crop and hid there. She came back looking for him at the tree. He watched as she ran around the tree, then she got nervous again and gathered her cubs and they ran off. He somehow managed to escape down the mountain without being detected.  He was plenty shaken by the experience and told me all about it afterward. He was very blessed to have escaped with no injury or death. Here again he was un-armed.

            A Peruvian sheep herder  to the north of us showed me and my friend and my son a photo of a dead sow grizzly and cub he was forced to kill with his rifle when she attacked him and his horse several years back.

            These are examples of the dangerous nature of bears from people I have known.  Every year almost, there is a mauling or killing of a person by a grizzly bear up in Teton National Park just 60 miles north of where I live.  Now you know why I don’t like bears. Have a healthy respect for bears.

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