Finding a bear

Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
Its harder than I would have thought fifty years ago.. Not even camping next to a dead half eaten caribou in the Yukon brought griz.

But the first night we were visited by a griz who sought bagels. Without Lox. I figure this was because everyone on the Snake, as exploratory as it was 20 years ago,flew to Duo lakes to start there. Ergo the bears knew the plane brought...food.

2012 trip on the Yukon: two swimming bears..one black one griz..neither interested at all in us

Wabakimi.. usually one bear sighting a trip.. including the one where we canoed after the bear pell mell and got within 30 feet of it.. I didn't know what the swimming animal was and wanted to ID it.. It got out shook its butt and it was obvious.. Never gave us a head shot. Also Wabakimi...watched a bear claw a tree violently about 200 feet from camp. Never came to camp.

In Maine in the spring we were 12 guides in a van.. all excited about an early spring trip back around 2000. Saw a bear cross the road.. Stopped van and do just what you should not do.. chase the bear for a better look.

Who chases who?

Yosemite early 80's was a scary standoff..we hiked around a corner and lo there was mama and cubs.. They did not want to move. We backed up.. ( and I had two little kids..Gave the bear room to leave which they did)
Yosemite same trip.. Watch bear enter tent by open door and watched occupant leave by same door...bear made new door.. Doritos were the quarry .

Yosemite same trip ( perhaps same bear) . Watched bear dismantle Coleman stove with food droppings on it.. Watched owners of stove come back to site and run after bear with ax. Bear was faster.

French River.. Berrying bear. Wabakimi.. Berrying bear ( It took me a while to realize that bruin was berrying near where I was berrying)
Glacier 2012.. Griz through campsite. Campsite surrounded by berries.

Don't camp in a berry patch.

Back in Yellowstone when I was a little kid.. remember the lines of cars and the bears ambling down the center line stopping at each car for a handout.

Moosonee.. Tours of dump at night to see bears. Kind of neat to see them way up a pine tree

Indian Lake NY 1970's. Lacking a drive in we went to the town dump to watch the bears climb over everyone's car.

Forgot the best. 1981 Yosemite.. We took the jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly. For some reason we had something metal.. We had a picnic lunch next to a waterslide and then enjoyed the waterslide.. While we were in the bear came to rummage our pack cause yep the peanut butter.. He chewed the pack and then chewed the lid and meanwhile really POed my husband cause his watch had been on top of the pack and was now in the water. We threw rocks at the bear and then I grabbed the pot and started banging on it.. The bear was not wanting to leave his beloved peanut butter so it took a while and there was some bluffing returning.. Not teeth gnashing but he kept coming back as if to say "you don't really want me to go, do you?"

Forgot one more. I saw the hind end of a bear on the Donald- Upper Kukagami portage.. Grabbing my camera running to get a better shot (chasing the bear..yes..is there a pattern here?) I stepped in a pile of berry laden bear poo.

Lots of bear encounters probably a function of time out there and age.. nothing more.

My neighbor went to the mailbox ( we have a set of cluster steel boxes) to see where the new dog on the block might have come from. She thought it was a Newfie.. But it was a blackie ..perhaps waiting for a Harry and David cheese shipment. If she had worn her glasses, she would have know sooner it was ursus not canis.

My most fun bear watching was in Algonquin.. Three cubs followed mama to the end of the log... Mama jumped in the water and one by one the cubs followed.. Mama swam back to the shore by the log, climbed out.. Cubs did too.. Repeat.

Then the Girl Scouts in a fleet of Grummans showed up and the bears swam across the river got out and left. Triplets are rare but the berry crop the year before was huge.
 
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That's a lot of bear encounters. The Game and Fish say we have a lot of black bears around here, but I've never encountered one. Makes one question if we really do have a lot of bears.

We did see bear sign when canoeing the Big Piney, AR.
 
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Black bears tend to want to stay hidden. They are good thieves and they'd rather not be bothered by humans. Once in a while a brave on will venture into a town, and up a tree or into a trash bin.

I've never seen a bear in the 'wild'. At the dumps of old in the Adirondacks, when people are feeding them, or in towns up a tree.

I've seen their tracks and scat all over in the wild. Pretty sure I've heard them close by bumbling through the woods. But more than likely they can smell me a mile away and don't want to bother.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
3,339
Location
NW Iowa
I saw one with triplets on a river trip in N. Minnesota when I rounded a bend. She and the cubs just watched and let me take a couple pics.
The only other one I've seen was driving along the interstate somewhere out west. There was a fence running along the interstate, a narrow flat area, and then a very tall and steep rock/gravel/dirt slope, or at least what qualifies as dirt out there. A cub was frantically trying to climb up it but there was no way. I don't know if it had rolled down from the top or if somehow it had just got separated from mom and wound up in that narrow strip between the interstate and the slope. Either way it really didn't want to be there.

Alan
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Messages
2,435
Location
Colrain MA
I once met a guy on the Mount Washington Auto Rd that I was crossing to get down into the Great Gulf who asked if I ever saw any big animals, bear and moose. I told him when you are 3 or 4 miles back in the woods by yourself carrying another 50lbs that's not a situation you want to be in.

Bears and moose are fine to look at from a car or the middle of a river, but when you've looked into the eyes of a bull moose from less the 10 feet away I'll take my viewing of those animals from a distance.
 
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Black bears tend to want to stay hidden. They are good thieves and they'd rather not be bothered by humans. Once in a while a brave on will venture into a town, and up a tree or into a trash bin.

I've never seen a bear in the 'wild'. At the dumps of old in the Adirondacks, when people are feeding them, or in towns up a tree.

I've seen their tracks and scat all over in the wild. Pretty sure I've heard them close by bumbling through the woods. But more than likely they can smell me a mile away and don't want to bother.

Once I was bushwhacking in Upper Michigan, looking for a small waterfall. Going through some low underbrush I came upon a small clearing (maybe 5 feet across) and a fresh - I mean steaming - pile of bear scat. I was being quiet but I never heard a thing, and although I stopped to look for signs of movement I saw nothing. Did you ever feel like you were being watched? I sure did.
 
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Being watched...

Yes, quite often.

One time I'm sure I was. A bobcat was circling our camp and my camping partner was a bit spooked so he kept shining the light around. We finally spotted the cats eyes... then ears and whiskers... and well that was enough - it was a bobcat. We didn't have a tent and were just sleeping out under the stars. I assured him that the cat wouldn't bother us if we kept our fire going. I'm pretty sure he stayed up most of the night with the fire!

Last trip to the Adirondacks we camped at a roadside site. We found out in the fall of darkness that we were being stalked by something. I was feeling a bit territorial so I scoped around for what I thought was going to be a raccoon looking to get into our food. Turned out to be a house cat! He/she was a bit too friendly - no houses or camps for miles in that area, despite the road nearby, so I figured it must have got dumped off.

I honestly didn't want a strange cat cuddling me in the middle of the night and it kept stalking our camp so I marked all the areas where it keep creeping up. That did it. It went away.

My wife felt bad for the poor cat. I didn't want to take it though. Maybe a ranger will grab if he sees it and take it to a shelter.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
260
Location
Middle of the Florida paddling paradise
Seen a few bear but never from a canoe. Was complaining to my wife just the other day that we never see bears and racoons in the wild any more. With out missing a beat she said. They have all moved to the suburbs for a better life. Yep open the front door and see a bear literally. Mama raccoon had her babies in the tree in the front yard. Last time we were at Juniper Springs run my wife saw a bear while I was riding the shuttle back. Not in the woods but walking along the road!

Saw one the side trail to the AT on Blood mtn. It was tearing in to a rotten log for grubs. Went back to the main trail to leave it alone. Saw another one walking trough a cow pasture in Ocala forest area.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,458
I have seen too many bears to list, many of them around my house, although quite a few in the bush as well. This year has been odd, as I have not seen one yet. Usually, in the spring, when the grass starts growing along side the highway, they come out in droves to eat. I have seen lots of bear poopies this year, but no fecal producers yet. Heading out for a canoe trip soon to a well used boat-in site, so that might change.
 
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Spend a few days hiking in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia in the summer, and you are virtually guaranteed to see a black bear or ten. Once, I had three encounters in one day. I have steered total novices to the park and they come home with at least one bear sighting. This is a great way to practice standing your ground with a bear. Because of lots of experience in SNP, I have no irrational fears of bears when in the north country.

The bears in SNP are not habituated bears, in that they are not associating hikers/people with food.They are hunted outside the park boundaries, so still have a healthy fear/respect for humans. For the most part, but of course, there are always exceptions. They are almost certainly more reserved than backcountry/north country bears, but they are wild enough. Amazingly few bear attacks on people ever in SNP.

SNP has loads of mature trees with healthy masts and plenty of other natural sources of food to carry a large population of bears. I expect the bears move to higher elevations in summer as the harvest moves up the mountains.The bears use the trails for the same reasons humans use them, so if you cover a lot of trail territory, you are more than likely to run into them.

SNP is relatively uncrowded in the summer because so many people are at the beaches. I always marvel at it. One of my best nights ever there was on Fourth of July, looking down on the fireworks going off over the several small towns that dot the Shenandoah Valley, Luray, etc. Can't do a repeat this year due to family obligations. Avoid SNP in the fall. Too crowded and the color does not compare to the north county.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2012
Messages
310
Location
Illinois
I manage to bump into several bears each year and have come to view them as a pig out looking for a meal. A sow with cubs and face to face, now that is another thing entirely! But there can still be those moments like the evening in WCPP when I had just finished my Tuna Helper. I heard crashing and spotted a black bear racing up the shore of the narrow section of lake I was camped on. The bear was on the other side but it was getting pretty close and it was getting dark. As I thought of my options the bear turned into the trees and seemed to be moving away. It was then that I remembered that I had gotten out of my canoe on that shore about 3 hours ago. Something had drawn my attention at the spot about 400 meters south of where I was now camped. I then realized the bear was not coming for my Tuna Helper but running hard to get away from my 3 hour old scent. I headed to the tent for a peaceful sleep.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
136
Location
Ottawa, Canada
OK, here's my best bear story so far when sea kayaking Georgian Bay last July.

At 05:30 one morning I had the urgent need to get out of bed to find plants in need of watering. Just as I unzipped my tent, I heard several rather large snorts and woofs from behind me. I rolled out, stood up and there, about 30 feet away, was a mother black bear and her cub. Momma really started to woof sending the cub straight up the nearest tree breaking branches in its rush to safety. My first thought was "Where's my camera?" then "And me without my bear spray handy!"
She stared at me and I stared at her while talking loudly but calmly. She finally got the hint, backed away and disappeared behind a large rock outcropping that horseshoed the camp. A few minutes later she reappeared about 180 degrees from where she had disappeared. Again a short stare-off competition. A few minutes later, momma snorted once more, the cub smashed its way down the tree and they were gone for good.

It was then that I remembered that I was buck naked! Not a stitch on, not even a fig leaf. Perhaps seeing a white hairless blob scared her off. Perhaps, I should leave out the part where I turned around and bent over to pick up my camera. That is correct. I mooned a moma bear that was about 30 feet away from me!
 
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They have all moved to the suburbs for a better life.

I live in an area that was but recently largely rural and now has pockets of suburbia. Someone discovers a bear on the back porch eating the dog food or ravenging a bird feeder and it makes the local news. Young bear seeking territory will follow some fairly narrow riparian stream valley into areas that rarely see bears; there have been a couple of bears struck and kill on I-95 between Baltimore and Washington and the surrounding megalopolis doesn’t get much thicker.

That said I take seeing bear as a sign of lower population density and larger tracks of woods and wildlands. I’ve been please and surprised to see bear several times on trips in Bladen County NC, including a sow and twins while paddling.

My favorite bear story isn’t my own. One of my brother-in-laws planned a backpacking trip in the Shenandoahs in his late teens. In typical teen fashion he and a partner scraped together some equipment and a few bucks and piddled around so long in the day that it was dark when they arrived at Front Royal.

Whereupon they decided “Crap. Well let’s keep driving and hike in the Great Smokies” instead. They drove through the night, shouldered their packs the next morning in the Smokies and didn’t get far before they heard someone shouting from a tree, below which was a bear tearing up a backpack.

Teenage (lack of) wisdom dictated that my BIL and his partner copy that performance, dropping their packs and climbing a tree. Upon which the bear ambled over and destroyed they packs. The tooth mark punctures in a Sig fuel bottle were impressive.

Eventually the bear had consumed sufficient edibles and other gear and wandered off. In a somewhat later eventuality my BIL and partner descended their tree, collected the remains of their destroyed gear, walked the short distance back to their car and, having no extra money for food or other gear, drove home.

Elapsed time away from home – 24 hours. I think BIL still has the punctured Sig bottle as a souvenir.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
425
Location
Maryland, USA
I just got back from a 10 day, 156 mile paddle down the Connecticut River starting a mile from the Canadian border. The only bear we saw was in Robin's backyard in Connecticut!!! TR to follow.
Regards,
Dave
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,290
Location
Warren, Manitoba
I recently recalled a long ago bear encounter while camping. It was back in my heavy drinking days, in the mid 80's. Myself and several friends were truck camping and our site bordered the forest at a nice camp about an hour north of Parry Sound, Ontario. At the time I had a plywood box I had made that fit neatly into my truck box for some of my gear and it doubled as a food box once set up. During a night campfire we had a raccoon scoot out of the bush and directly under my chair to join us at the fire, but much later, I was awoken by the sound of the side handles on the box clanking away and I sat up in bed, shouted quite loudly, silence ensued and back to sleep I went. It wasn't until coffee cleared my head in the morning I found large fang marks in the lid of that plywood box, both sides, punctures in the wood about 3" apart. It certainly wasn't a giant raccoon...
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
Well Dave you must have missed the one wandering in Windsor Locks. Minding its own business it found its way to Bradley Airport where wildlife officers shot it. For no reason.. Don't they have bear traps?
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,290
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Warren, Manitoba
Recently outside of Parry Sound, Ontario a family had a nuisance bear. It had torn the siding and insulation off the side of their house, tried to enter through the screen door, etc, so they called the MNR. They were told they no longer trap and move bears since the usually just go back to where they were caught, the family was told to throw rocks at it, hit it with bear spray and if that didn't work, shoot it.

The next time the bear showed up, it got shot.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,386
Location
Raymond, ME
YC,
I hear they don't hang their food at Bradley. :)
Dave
What bear would want airline food?? I watched a program once called "How its made". The subject: airline food.

Hence..no more will I pay for that.

Today we did a paddle on the Androscoggin River between Errol and Milan NH.. 11 of us. 5 saw moose on the drive up.

6 including me skunked. Its prime moose territory and my batting average used to be above .500. Not today.
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
7
Location
Boston Metro Northwest
All them moose are hanging out up on Rt 16.
I've seen some black bears here in New England. Seen enough fresh scat and sign to think there are plenty I didn't see. The only ones that hung around long enough to make me nervous were campground bears.
Last one I saw was in Franconia Notch across Rt 3 from Lafayette Camp ground wait for break in traffic so's he could cross.
You could pretty well see the picinic baskets dancing in his head.
 
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