The last thing Debbie said to me as I left this morning was “Don’t forget your pistol. The last thing I need is you running into a bear.” Thirty minutes later, just 60 feet from my Buck Hump camera, I was looking at one of the biggest bears I had ever seen, and there wasn’t 40 feet between us.
I was very conscious of the fact that my walk in was very quiet and that a good breeze was blowing in my face.
My trail to Buck Hump is a mix of very thick young spruce–which I have tunneled through–and small, low-bush blueberry openings.
I was coming out of the spruce, and just as I was about to put a step out into a blueberry opening, I noticed an antler sized dead spruce branch under foot. I purposely stepped on it to make a snapping sound to alert any animals in the proximity of my presence. What a great move!
One more step, and I was in the open. There, directly ahead of me, standing upright and looking directly at me, was this very large bear. No doubt he heard the snap and stood to see what caused it.
I don’t know who was more stunned. We stared at each other for what seemed minutes, but I’m sure it was seconds, before I said “What’s up?” Thankfully he whirled and headed back up my trail.
I can’t imagine what might have transpired if I had not broken that stick. I’m sure that the two of us would have continued walking towards each other, and no doubt we both would have been even more startled.
As it turned out, when he whirled, it did nothing to diminish my initial thoughts of his (thankfully a him) size. He was very wide to say the least, barley fitting in between the spruces on the trail.
I looked at him long enough while we were staring at each other that I was able to estimate that his beautiful, light rust-colored muzzle was about 8 or 9 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide. His head was much bigger than a basketball hoop. His hair glistened in the sunlight. He was a picture perfect example of his species. He wasn’t unlike the one I caught on the Seven-Point Swamp Stand camera last November.
By the way, my pistol was in my backpack. It might as well have been in my truck for all the good it would have done me if things went bad. Life lesson: If you think you might need a gun, then you’d better have it where you can get to it…in a hurry.
Now I knew he had just passed my camera–a matter of feet away–and I was sure that I’d get great videos of him. WRONG! The camera was dead. Three of the eight lithium batteries had died. I’m not sure why. Frustrated, I put a new set of alkaline batteries in–that I almost did not take with me–to get it through until my next visit.
The camera shot dozens of videos. The best were of two young bucks and a young bull.
Still with my adrenaline pumping, I rushed to get to the camera at the cutover. I knew that I was in trouble when the camera was not on the tree. As it turns out, it had been destroyed by a bear. It was several feet from the tree, and both the strap and cable holders were snapped off.
The sensor cover had been punctured by teeth.
“Well,” I thought. “At least I’ll have the video.” WRONG. That camera was dead too! The lithium batteries let me down again. The camera had been dead for three weeks or so.
Two more interesting things that I observed on the way home:
1) I saw a spot near the cutover that looked like it had been tilled. It was about 8 feet by 12 feet and oval shaped. Maybe if I was not already fuzzy with the day’s happenings, I could have figured it out. It was not turkeys or deer. It was either a bear eating ants or a moose looking for a dust bowl.
2) I found a porcupine skin. This was the work of a fisher cat. They eat the porcupine from the underside after forcing them out onto a small limb. I caught a fisher on the camera near the brook by Stand 1 back in January.
That was 90 minutes that I will not soon forget.