Nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong…

That’s not a raincloud.

It’s wildfire season, and we’ve had one cooking about sixty miles away for some time. Until this morning it was a subject of no more than mild interest.

Then this morning I showed up at Geiger Counter Central to find GC Guy all in a tizzy. Seems he woke up in the middle of the night to the dogs’ clamor, went outside, and at first thought Comet the colt had gotten out. Except he couldn’t figure out how Comet had grown two axe-handles across the shoulders, or why he would be going through the garbage cans. It turned out to be an enormous black bear, and since GC Guy’s shotgun was loaded with birdshot he wisely refrained from shooting it. It wouldn’t go away when he yelled at it, but it left like a rocket when he fired the 12-gauge into the air. This morning he learned that one of our more distant neighbors had a bear break a window and try to come into his house. He drove it away with a 9mm: GC Guy’s mom, watching the action from her RV, swore she saw a “red dot” on his bear’s side. Those two locations are mighty far apart, and it’s hard to believe the same bear would hit both – especially while carrying a couple of 9mm hollowpoints. But that’s maybe not quite as unbelievable as two bears hitting two places on the same night, when bears are very rare here.

So I don’t know if it was the same bear or not, but clearly the fire’s got the wildlife on the move.

So GC Guy is suddenly interested in upgrading his bangsticks. He’s got the shotgun and an AR: I told him he could buy some slugs for the 12-gauge, but that personally I prefer a .30 cal and that I’d be happy to lend him my bolty. He’d already gotten the same advice and offer from his ex-cop neighbor, but now he wanted to own his very own. He wanted to go gun-shopping right frickin’ now, and would I mind coming along?

Lemme think: I can spend several hours wiring the insides of geiger counters together, or take a trip to the happiest place on earth and buy a rifle. Which shall it be?

They boresighted his new rifle, and after work this afternoon we took it out to the range and tweaked it in. He feels better now. Oddly, I’m sort of fixated on the fact that I live almost directly between the locations of the two incidents. Am I and my dogs now in the territory of a big, aggressive black bear? I think maybe it’s time to put away the AK and bring out the M1A.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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6 Responses to Nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong…

  1. Bob B. says:

    I don’t know that I’d put the AK away, but I’d definitely break out the M1A if it helps you sleep better. A little peace of mind is never a bad thing to have. Besides, can’t have you or the kids gettin chewed on, and you might have a lot of critters comin your way if that fire keeps burnin.

  2. Winnie the Poo says:

    I live in the East in a rural area where black bears are common. They are a nuance, destroying bird feeders, rummaging through garbage, etc. Bear attacks on people are almost unheard of here. I can’t remember the last time anyone was injured in a confrontation. I see bears on a regular basis. My dogs treed one in the yard last week. I had to stop feeding the birds because a ~600 pound bear was coming up on the porch to get the feeder.

    Killing a bear here can be a real bureaucratic nightmare. It requires scrupulous adherence to the shoot, shovel and shut up method. If _anyone_ finds out about it a game warden will soon darken the door of the shooter. Fines are high and, now, due to a recent change in the law jail time is a possibility. Unless one has a backhoe the shovel part is a whole lot of work. The method I use is a load of heavy bird shot in the ass of the departing bear. The idea is to have the bear associate my place with pain and therefore avoid it. It seems to work for the most part but there are a lot of bears around.

    I have a friend who makes his living as a beekeeper. A bear can easily do $10,000 worth of damage to a bee yard in a single night. His technique is to try and gut shoot the bear so it runs away and dies somewhere else. He doesn’t like it but he feels it is the only way he can safely avoid the bureaucracy.

    Western bears (and game wardens too?) may be completely different, so none of the above may be applicable to you. Good luck.

  3. Joel says:

    Bear sightings are very rare here. Night before last there were two in a single night, and in one of them the bear tried to break into a house. It’s probably carrying bullets now. Like I said, I don’t know for sure if it was the same bear, but it’s safest to assume it was. If it got driven out of the forest by the fire and now doesn’t know any way to get food other than hassling people, it’s going to die soon. Livestock and property aren’t easy to replace, and threats to them are met with violence. Plus, an encounter with a 600-lb bear would scare the living shit out of me, and that sort of thing would be met with violence, too. That’ll be sad, I don’t know anybody who wants to kill the bear. But it’s the way it is.

    Game wardens are the same everywhere, I expect. But people out here are familiar with the three S’s, and backhoes are very common.

  4. JohnW says:

    Ah HA! I thought I knew where you were before from the climate and the vegetation we share but now I’ve got you located. Hi, neighbor!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pansies. I’d just go out and kick that bruin in the nads.
    Jay in Montana has popped two of them with his AR when they were in his goat pens.
    Don’t jack around with Jays Love life.
    If that bear has lead in him/her it may be some serious kind of dangerous. That might be why I don’t keep a nine handy in the bush.

    Buck.

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To the stake with the heretic!