Lately, we’ve read or heard about hunters who shot bears – or shot at bears – and the wounded creatures turned on the hunters and killed or seriously injured them. But then this has been happening since way back when Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett were sporting coonskin hats and firing muskets.
So I’m always a bit curious as to why people seem surprised or even amazed that such will happen in modern times. Besides, what’s time to a bear?
Now, I hate to see anyone get hurt. But folks, this ain’t squirrel or possum hunting. When you go into a territory inhabited by something that can eat you, you should know up front there is a good chance of being hurt – or worse.
And how can you be angry at the bear? Here is one of God’s creatures just walking around in the wilderness minding its own business. Then comes along someone who wants to shoot it for no other reason than to hang its skin on a wall, drink some beer and describe to his friends his adrenaline rush from the experience.
I’m not sure what kind of rush is experienced when the shot isn’t fatal and the bear turns and charges him. I’m sure something moves, but I would bet it’s not adrenaline.
And no one eats bear meat. When is the last time you heard someone discussing their favorite bear recipes? So there’s no practical application nor socially redeeming value in shooting one.
There’s a story that fishing guides out in the Northwest tell their clients. I think it’s relevant to what we’re talking about here. First, they give them little silver bells to wear around their necks. The idea is to make a lot of noise so that you don’t surprise a bear.
And the guide, of course, explains the difference between the smaller black bears and grizzlies. He points to a pile of bear poop and tears it apart with a stick. He notes that this is black bear poop because the black bear feeds predominately off berries, roots and other vegetation.
So a client asks the guide how would you know if it was grizzly poop. And the guide says, “You’ll likely find some of these little silver bells in it.”
We’re advised if we confront a bear that we should not run. This will only encourage the bear to chase you. Of course if you are with someone upon this encounter, and it’s someone you can outrun, then the rules may change. You might want to look for that little asterisk on those instructions.
We’re also advised to make ourselves look bigger than we really are, maybe growl at the bear and raise your arms in the air. Maybe the bear will think you are another bear, just a funny looking one. Of course the key would be not to look like a female bear if you’ve happened upon a male grizzly. And introducing yourself as “Yogi” won’t work either.
Few of us will ever have to use any of this advice. First, there are no grizzlies in South Georgia and only a few black bears. I can count all the bear hunters I know on one hand without using my thumb. Not too many of us will ever go where these bears live. So it’s not like there is a demand for seminars on bear encounters.
Some people will say they hunt bear because it brings out the primitive nature of their being – that they connect with their ancestors in this blood sport. Hey, if you want to do that, here’s a suggestion: Learn to build a fire by rubbing sticks together. There’s much less wear and tear on your jeans than fighting with a wounded bear. And when you finish, you’ll have something to heat your Beenie Weenies over. And then sing “Kumbaya” or “Michael Row Your Bow Ashore.”
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.