I Didn't See That Coming

One day, last October, around 5 o'clock, I grabbed my jacket, soon to depart for an engagement.


I know people.

I peeked through the kitchen window, where I saw a pair of deer feeding themselves, a few paces outside the door. I went for my camera.

When I returned, one of the animals had vanished. The other remained behind to eat for an additional 20 minutes. I didn't dare disturb the meal.

The deer strolled down our driveway, skipping out on the check. The animal exited through the open gate, which is odd since there is no fence on the property, only a gate. As the deer disappeared from my sight, I turned my head to the left to see a fully-grown black bear approach the feeding place where the deer had been moments before.

Bear visitors aren't common in these parts, although we're always on alert for them and them darn fool revenuers, dagnabbit.

My friends, relatives, and neighbors love to point out that Mikey is Special of the Day on the bear food chain.

That's why I had "BEST IF EATEN BEFORE AUG. 1998" tattooed on my butt.

Actually, I've received conflicting information on black bears' dietary preferences, although my general impression is most of them are herbivores. They will kill humans, nevertheless, if they feel threatened or mistake ear hair for parsley sprigs.

In six years of residence, I had only seen bears on our property four times, including that evening. Three incidents were mere walk-throughs. This particular day was the first occasion I ever saw one stop to eat. He stayed for 20-30 minutes, casually munching, while he pawed hard corn kernels to himself, as if he were collecting poker chips at a gambling table.

Think Bob Hoskins in Vegas.

My cat, Morty, hopped into the window to receive a big surprise. I don't know if he is state-of-the-art on bears, but he was definitely alarmed at the dark, ominous hulk 15 feet away.

I removed Morty from the window. He didn't know whether to bolt and hide under the stairs, or jump back into the window. He jumped. I extracted him again.

I didn't know whether to bolt and hide under the stairs, or jump back into the window. I jumped, but the bear didn't see me, having moved beyond the building. Morty extracted me.

The bear sauntered into the drive and headed towards an old picnic table. It was the pic-a-nik basket cliche in real life, Boo Boo.

In this photo, the beast is sniffing exactly where Donna parks her car. This is also exactly where I resist a comment about a "taxi cub."

He chose to lounge by the well house, near our ironic, wooden welcoming bear. I think the real bear was eyeing my car to see if I might come outside dressed as dessert.

I'm no after-dinner Mike. I ventured out in January, when hibernation season was underway. Sure, I was sleepy, but at least the bear was gone.


Anonymous said...

One question: Did you remove Morty from the window to avoid having him disturb the bear's meal, or from fear that the bear might see him and think that he was desert?

Mike Durrett said...

I removed Morty to protect him. I have no idea how an irrational bear might react, especially when I'm irrational.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed something about that last picture. The well house, which gives the size of the bear some perspective, looks like a regular log cabin in that picture. That would make the bear about 8 feet tall.

Mike Durrett said...

The well house is around four feet high. The bear, however, was every inch as scary as eight feet.

Deb said...

Wow these are great shots! I live a little north of NYC, and we get so many deer and bears on our lawn...it's amazing. But every time I try to take a picture or shoot a video of them----they're gone! You should send those into your local newspaper!

Anonymous said...

Do bears really eat people???

Mike Durrett said...

I'm told black bears will eat meat, if they're hungry enough, and that would include us.

This quote sort of backs the statement, found at the Green Website: "Black bears are omnivores and will feed [on] whatever is available: insects, nuts, berries, grasses and other vegetation, as well as meat, such as deer or moose, particularly the young. Salmon is also a common food for black bears in British Columbia."

I'm more worried about the killing people part. First things first, and all that.

Bears will kill humans if they feel challenged -- and that is always the bears' call, too. Surprise them, make eye contact with them, or get between them and where they want to go, then you'd better watch out.

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