Close encounters of the bear kind

Locals are going to laugh at this and non-forest livers will probably cringe but yesterday at about 3:30pm I had the closet encounter with the largest (can kill me) animal I have ever had.

Let me set the scene. First, yesterday morning I had to pick up the neighbors garbage which somehow found itself behind our house meaning.. bear, (go to menu item “Videos” to see two clips of this bear we call “PuffBall”). It’s time for bears to load up with food for Winter but we’ve never seen one here in the daytime before.

Arlene is in town, I’m done with my chores, I’m on the computer and “The Blair Witch” project in on the tv, it’s around 3:30pm. I feel like a snack so I go to the kitchen. While I am in the middle of microwaving, our cat “Pickle” wants to go outside at the kitchen door which leads out to our breezeway. The breezeway is in between the house and the garage, (the breezeway used to be a carport and towards the back we have about a 30×30 open area which we have built a small waterfall/stream/pond area and beyond that is our backyard which is completely fenced off with a gate).

As I go to let Pickle out through the screen door, we both see our rubber floating turtle is out of the pond and laying upside down in the walkway, Pickle goes to check it out and I think to myself, “Was that there before? No, I would have noticed it,…Right??”. Then Kacy our mini-lab comes out to check it out both of them smelling around like crazy. Now I start to notice water spot tracks in the breezeway heading towards the front of the house, (I cannot tell from the size what created them but adding it together with the rubber turtle,….something was just here). Now both the dog and cat head towards the backyard and both are smelling like crazy. Time to go see if it’s in back yard, (the back yard is completely fenced with deer fence so if anything is back there….there is only one way out, through the gate I am about to go through). (see “leaving an escape route” in the link below the picture).

I have suddenly turned into a Navy Seal, back against the wall, peeking around the corner and then suddenly looking the other direction, all the while scanning. Turning left around the back of the house we all notice that water had been splashed onto the walkway from everything holding water, birdbath, water dish, watering pale and bucket on the other side of the barbecue. I don’t know about the pets were but the hair on the back of my neck was up!

Full perimeter search of the backyard turned up nothing so I brought Kacy out and closed the gate (Pickle the cat has a hole in the fence she can use to get in and out, I just don’t want whatever it was going back in, we have two huge fig trees one in the back and one outside the backyard fence. Figs are like honey to wild animals).

Kacy and I go back out front through the breezeway. I scan the water marks again but still cannot confirm they are from a bear. Again like a Navy Seal, I enter the garage which is completely open, side door to the breezeway and the big doors, (we also have a back tool room, you could train the Navy Seals on how I “cleared” that room). Nothing and no signs of anything in the garage. Finally I “cleared the front and side yards with no signs of anything, whatever it was it’s gone now.

I leave Kacy out front on her rug in the beginning of the breezeway and go inside to grab the camera and get some evidence (who’s going to believe me, right). Then I go back in to the office where “The Blair Witch Project” is still playing, (this may have meaning with the turtle being out of the pond mysteriously ;). I start to text Arlene about the rubber turtle and in the middle of my texting Kacy starts to bark, loud and quick barks, something was here, IT WAS BACK!

I ran back out (without a thought of bringing the camera), down the hall, turned the corner in the kitchen towards the screen door fully thinking of blasting outside when… I was slammed in the face with the reality of the hugest thing I had ever seen was no more than 10 feet from me. A gasp of air left me suddenly as I stopped my forward motion, (I thing I said “Ohh”, in a macho man deep tone..;). It was so huge…. but our dog who was blocking it’s escape route at the end of the breezeway was barking almost hysterically. All I could think was “MY DOG” and I yelled,”OHHHHH!!” and I think I slapped the screen door.

It didn’t care about the dog barking but it didn’t want anything to do with what ever the hell was just yelling at it (in such a manly, macho way ;), so it got up, slipped on the cement floor and ran into the garage. I immediately called Kacy inside and reluctantly she came in. PERIMETER SEARCH! except now I am packing a small can of dog spray and a small dog stick. (if it attacks me I’m going to spray my own eyes and try to knock myself out…;)

The search turned up nothing at all, no signs of anything. Returning to where the bear was I see more liquid where the bear slipped on the cement, (later on when Arlene came back she determined is was ….piddle, be it mine or the bears is still to be determined  ;).

I found a great article about bear encounters, the link is below the pictures. It’s a good read for anyone who lives or visits in bear country. The collage below shows the upside down turtle with Kacy starting to inspect, the water splashes and the actual view I had at the same distance I was at when the bear was sitting on the low rock on the other side of the pond. I’m sure it was taller than me if it was to stand up but it was beautiful too. Red/Brown “Puffball” hair……I admonish myself for not thinking about the camera but then I think, I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway….no Shake Reduction!

close-encounter

 

http://www.sierrawild.gov/bears/bear-encounters

 

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