It was four, or maybe five years ago that I first saw the bear. I was driving down a backcountry road when I saw it as a cub off to my left. I stopped to admire it. I figure it weighed maybe 60 or 70 pounds. Most striking was its color. It was marked quite like a Siamese cat. Its coat was a sandy yellow. It had charcoal chaps and a charcoal head. The cub and I stared at each other. My camera was back in camp. Finally, it went galumphing away into the brush and pine trees.
Two years ago I was driving down the same backcountry road, at about the same time of day, and came upon the same bear in the same place. It was undoubtedly the same bear, with its dirty-blond hair, charcoal head and legs. It stood just off the road, fully grown and beautiful. I quickly came to a stop. We stared at each other for a few seconds before it wheeled and loped off into the brush and pine trees.
Last Saturday, Barbara told me that she would like to take some things up to the trailer at the campground where we share hosting duties. We waited until evening to go because evening is best for seeing deer with their little fawns, and other critters.
I decided to bring my four-wheeler home since we won’t go to be hosts again until the last of the month. I hooked onto the little trailer, loaded and strapped down the four-wheeler. It was around 7:30 when we started home. We took the back way because we wanted to see the deer and other evening critters.
We drove slowly along, listening to soft music and enjoying life. Suddenly, I said, “Ho! Bear!!” It was in the same place, but I couldn’t be sure it was the same bear. This time it was on the west side of the road, which put it in the gloom and shadows against the evening sky.
I quickly stopped the truck and began scrambling for my camera. The bear looked up from its foraging and stared at us for a moment. Then, as if to say, “Oh, you again,” it went on about its business.
We were facing south. The bear was moseying northwestward. After taking two or three pictures, I backed the truck up a bit to get a better view. I took more pictures. I backed the truck some more and sort of heard and felt a soft “crunch.” I checked my mirrors and saw that I had forgotten the trailer. It was jack-knifed to the side and impacted against the truck.
Some people came by in a side-by-side ATV. They searched to see what it was that aroused such interest in us. They saw the bear. They looked at it for a few moments then yelled at it and left. I resented them yelling at “my” bear. I got out of the truck and took two or three more photographs. The bear finally disappeared into the brush and pine trees.
Once I looked at my photos on the computer, it was clearly the same bear of years past, with sandy-blond hair, charcoal legs and head. I am sure that I am much more excited to see the bear than the bear is to see me. I wonder how many times the bear has watched me pass up or down that road.
Once home, I examined my truck. There is a dent just below the right rear taillight. But, not all dents are disastrous. I’m not sure I will attempt to remove this dent. It serves as a reminder of seeing the bear.