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Just don't go there
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MOULTRIE — Quite often I read advice on what to do when you encounter a dangerous critter. For instance, if you meet up with a grizzly bear you are advised to make yourself look bigger than you really are.
And if you are attacked by a shark, you are advised to hit it on the nose with your fist, assuming of course you still have your arm attached.  I don’t think many of us could do that nor would we remember the advice.
Today, I read a news story out of Frenchtown, Mont., where a woman confronted a black bear on her back porch. The bear was attacking her dog and then turned on her when she screamed at it. The woman reached inside the doorway, grabbed a zucchini and threw it at the bear. The bear ran off.
Now this was a 200-pound black bear, not an 800- pound grizzly. I don’t know if there’s a big difference between the two when you go up against either one with a zucchini. And I’m not sure if the bear was actually intimidated by the woman tossing the vegetable at him or if it just hated zucchini that much. And I’m not saying that a can of spinach would have had an equal effect.
I find it rather amusing when I read these kind of survival hints. Let’s go back to that thing about making yourself look bigger than a grizzly. I wonder how many people have actually tried that and it worked? I suppose you could rip your shirt open and reveal the “S” on your long johns. But if you’ve just confronted a grizzly and it’s standing 9 feet tall, the “S” might connote something other than Superman.
Also, one is advised not to run from a grizzly. But also, we are not advised to run toward one. Just stand there and look really big. Maybe growl and show your teeth.
I have a friend, Clem Weldon, who would suggest that you pull the skin really tight on your face and try to look like Nancy Pelosi. He says that would scare rust off a trailer hitch.
Recently I watched a demonstration on how to safely pick up a live rattlesnake. And I actually did that once. But as the Bible notes, “When I was a child, I spake as a child. But when I became a man, I got less stupid and hit snakes on the head with a big stick.” Obviously this quote comes from a revised edition.
And then I watched a fellow on the Animal Channel demonstrate how to tell the sex of an alligator. What you do is flip it over on its back and insert your finger into the cavity in its belly. If you feel a penis, then you’ve got yourself a male alligator. If you don’t feel a penis, then call it Shirley and run like heck.
I can honestly say that I’ve never looked at an alligator and wondered if it was male or female. Nor would the knowledge of such gender have improved my quality of life, therefore rendering the whole process moot.
I have, however,  looked at an alligator and wondered how fast it could run and when it last had a good meal.
I have a simple solution to most of these issues. I don’t go where there are grizzlies. I don’t go where there are sharks. And while I have been in close proximity to alligators, I restrained myself from doing the sex test.
Now the thing about sharks reminds me of an analogy about imminent dangers. One can walk onto the beach and yell “shark!” and everyone will come screaming out of the water. But, one can go into a smoky bar and yell “cancer!” and people will look at you through a haze of carcinogen and think you’ve lost your marbles. Go figure.

Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer. He can be reached at
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