Saturday, July 08, 2006

Close Encounter of the Furry Kind!

Thanks to comments and requests I will elaborate on my July 3rd adventure with bears on the corner.
The setting: North is the road that leads to camp. East leads out to Naknek lake via brush then beach. South is the edge of the corner and the Brooks river. West is the road that continues on to the bridge.
The Situation: July 3rd 5:45 shift ends in 15 minutes. I just finished an eventful end of day hour long bear jam. The nice thing is that I am about to get off shift and a sow with her spring cub is out in the river fishing. The bridge has been closed again. One man comes up to watch the sow before going to dinner. Of course this would be the time when the mighty beasts would head in our direction. As training taught me I pulled off the corner with my 1 visitor to allow the bears room to pass us. Before going 10 yards my radio sqwuaks out a warning that a large male sub adult is on the trail heading in my direction. Realizing the gravity of my situation and wanting to avoid a potential confrontation. I decide our best course of action would be to exit stage right for the lake and walk around the bears along the beach. The brush makes for slow traveling so I turned after 10 ft to check on the bear's location. Shocked and awed would not even begin to cover what I beheld. Not only had the subadult already covered the distance to stand where we had left only moments before, but the sow followed by her cub were rushing at the sub adult. I bid the visitor to walk with a little more purpose (we cannot run in Brooks camp). The next thing I know I see the sow growling inches from the sub adult's face before she clocks him with a Chuck Norris style round house front paw to the head. Needless to say this action (and obviously impressive fighting skill) led the sub adult to do what its short life experience had taught...FLEE. The best exit for the sub adult happened to be toward the beach and us. Seeing this I pushed my visitor out of the way while I used a tree as a spring board to clear myself of the brown blur. Fear can make people and animals do many things...some stupid and some smart. Fear urged this bear, after his initial 10 yard sprint, to decide it would be best to change tactics and circle around us. Smart for the bear, but horrible for us as I realized he was trying to push us toward the sow and spring cub. As the gap between us and the 3 bears narrowed to 10 ft or less on either side I saw my opening for freedom. However, leaving a visitor in shock was not an option. I moved back to my frightened visitor who was trying to stay back from the sow and did not realize the sub adult was coming up behind us. I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out to the trail while keeping an eye on our furry friends. Having avoided any problems we made our way down the trail to camp. My shift being over, with a wary eye on the bears, my only thought was to regret not getting a photo. :) I did not see the visitor on the trail the next day and was told that he went to the bar where he stayed for a long time, before going to bed and catching his flight the next day. To the right is a picture of the one punch machine gun and her cub.

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