Black Bear is peaceful and eats berries with the abandon of a child. He seems funny when he is turning over deadwood to slurp up insects, it doesn’t seem like much of a meal but could he really think it is a good snack? He will sit under a nut tree and look like a teddy bear for your bed. Mama looks sweet with her babies but she is the most dangerous bear you are likely to meet.
Black Bears are ferocious and powerful predators. They can charge you before you know it and take you down in seconds. They can take young deer down, and can ravage livestock.
We cannot predict what any bear will do, but there is no evidence they find us particularly tasty. If they did, they would be extinct. We are threatening their habitat and we have border skirmishes that bear always loses. In the long run. If he mauls you he will be hunted down and killed. They now test bear DNA from your wounds and kill bears until they get a match.
So many people want Black Bear selfies and Black Bear film at 11. People get Black Bears killed.
I grew up in the backwoods of Oregon and one hunting season we saw a Black Bear across a canyon. Both my parents sighted in on the bear, she with a 30.30 and he with a 30.06. Mom tracked the bear and pulled the trigger, just wounding him. It knocked the bear down the slope and he disappeared into the brush. We heard him get up and move off. A wounded bear is likely to hunt down some unsuspecting hunter and kill him and we could not leave him like that. She didn’t have enough firepower to kill that bear and knew better. Bear fever?
My dad manned up and went down in that canyon to track the bear by its blood splatter on the leaves. He told my mom and I to stay by our car… and we did. It seemed to take a long long time while we hoped to hear a shot that would let us know dad was okay and that he had put the bear down. Mom felt guilty and foolish and scared all at the same time. I was just scared.
Eventually we heard a shot, pause, then my dad shot every round… into the bear? Silence again. Mom started yelling dad’s name but no answer. Just as she packed up her gun and told me to stay by the car… dad yelled for me to come down with a knife and for my mom to stay.
What? He yelled again and cussed a bit to let us know he expected obedience. What the smell?
I did what I was told, and gathered tools for gutting out a bear. Mom was shaking and got out our Coleman stove to put on a pot of coffee. We could not see dad, but I figured I could find him.
Dad and I gutted out that Black Bear together. He looked like he had the palsy and I still have a scar on my middle finger where he accidentally cut me to the bone when I was pulling the rib cage open for him. He wrapped it up in his handkerchief. We ate bear meat all winter, he was eating blackberries and that made his meat rich and sweet. A bear eating salmon is too fishy smelling and rank tasting to eat.
What my dad did not want my mom to see or know was that the bear heard him coming after him and circled around behind him. In a small opening dad stopped following blood and turned around.
The bear charged him.
He shot every bullet into that bear’s head, even blew his jaw away. It fell about six feet from him. It took dad a couple minutes to recover enough to answer our yelling.
My mom did the dumbest thing in the woods, she bloodied a bear with no hope to kill it. My dad could have died because she did that in a split second of idiocy.
My father did the kindest thing, he had me come down and see how close it was, not my mother.
As we gutted that bear, my dad made up a mundane story for my mom and suggested that he might blister my butt if I told my mom how close that bear came to him, or that it circled back around to attack him from behind. I was shocked and shaken by how far that bear traveled with his head blown apart. We left the gory head in the canyon to “reduce the weight.”
I didn’t tell my mother anything and just listened to dad’s story of trailing that bear and shooting him. I think she believed him… and he hadn’t messed his britches in fear, which would have put the lie to it!
But I know what happened and I learned what love looks like.