Bears have a curiosity bump. I went for a walk early one morning, and took the camera with me to take pictures of dewy cobwebs. All the way at the back of the pasture I found a patch of lovely ones, and was bent over taking pictures when I heard a rustling in the brush. I immediately thought “Oh, Dad’s moose!”
See, Dad had been sleeping out in his tent for a week, and the day before this had awakened to a moose crashing through the brush in the ravine below his tent. He’d crept to the edge and watched the south end of the moose proceeding north up the creek. So it was a natural assumption on my part to think that this large crashing in the brush was also a moose.
I swung the camera up and took a shot from the hip, flash and all. The flash was my undoing. I might have gotten away with it, but Mr. Bruin saw that light and stood up to see what the light was over the brush. At this point I realized that he was bigger than I, and although not known to attack humans often, I am not going to trust a bear further than I could throw it. Dad got away with kicking one in the…um. Well, you know. But that one was a yearling, a lot smaller than he, not a big ol’ bruin looking at little ol’ me.
So I went. Toward the house, wishing that I were a sprinter, not an endurance runner (and that a decade ago!) I am pretty sure he went in the other direction, but I wasn’t really looking. All I know is that he didn’t follow me home!
Talk about adrenaline to start your morning – that was a little too much. Coming back to Dad’s bear, the yearling, I just have to tell that story along with mine. Dad keeps bees, and even with an electric fence, the bears just can’t resist all those delicious grubs and sweet honey. One warm summer night, Dad heard a ruckus through his open window.
He knew just what that noise was. I was awakened by the sound of his feet thundering down the stairs. I ran out of my room to see my mother in her nightgown, carrying a pistol and a handful of cartridges. Dad told us later what had happened.
Once he got out to the garden and could see by the moonlight that there was indeed a bear in his hives, he’d stopped briefly. Unarmed, wearing only his briefs and wellingtons, he then charged at the bear. He’d decided, in that split moment, that if he could be bigger than the yearling who was plundering his hives, he could scare it off.
The bear, oblivious, his head as far in a hive box as it would go up to his shoulders, munched on. Dad kept coming. The bear’s first clue was a size 12 foot, encased in rubber garden boot, making violent contact with his north end. He pulled his head out and ran, squalling like a baby, toward the edge of the garden. After a few jumps he stopped and looked back to see what had hit him.
Dad told us later: “he just had this look, like ‘What did I do?” All injured innocence aside, Dad raised his hands up over his head and roared like a bull. This did the trick, and the bear made for the woods, possibly leaving behind what bears are said to do in the woods.
My mother and I arrived in time to see the bear high-tailing it in the moonlight. Mom had grabbed the wrong cartridges, and was feeding .357’s into a .44 and wondering why they were falling out as fast as she put them into the revolver. So the bear escaped with only his dignity injured, and Dad earned the nickname Bear Kicker, which he will never live down.