Five nights ago-as is my custom-I was taking my large, mixed-breed dog for her final walk of the night. It was very cool, dark, and intimidating, which is why my wife doesn’t take Amelie out at night. Slipping on my moccasins, I walked out the back door, turned toward the side yard, then walked out into the neighboring field. When we’d reached the our farthest place in the walk, suddenly from behind our house, in the vicinity of some exceptionally tall white pines, which lie in front of a formerly bush-hogged acre of land now overgrown, I heard this sound I can only call unearthly and shocking. It was a kind of nearly metallic sound of growling-barking, repeated at regular intervals.
The dog stopped walking, but I froze in terror. I was really scared. This sound was horrific from the point of its possibly being a sound of a predator, and perhaps a sound of the preyed upon. I couldn’t decide what it was! I couldn’t move, either, for a long time. I just looked in the distance to see if I could see anything. Nothing. Finally I decided to quietly sneak around front and go inside, hoping whatever it was would not see me and come after me. At 270 or so pounds, I’m no Jesse Owens-that’s for sure. I was so relieved when I made it. I then went upstairs to talk to my wife. I asked her if she heard it. What? She didn’t hear anything. Figures. I took her to the back door and quietly opened it-but nothing.
In My Head
I had seen on my property a number of times, some fecal material that looked like it was the product of a dog, but it had a lot of seeds in it. Could that have been from a bear? I determined to search the web and see what animal sounds might compare. To be totally honest, nothing matched exactly, but the closest thing I could find was a black bear. No wonder people run when they come across one of these in the wild! I told this experience to everyone. Then one day, I told one fellow who knew of the area in which I live. He told me the story I needed to hear.
The Nearby Mountain
He said the road near where I live runs down to a homestead at the base of a large mountain. He said a person he knows is interested in bears, so he put up a remote camera that takes snapshots periodically. Many bears live on that mountain, the camera revealed. Then the camera disappeared, my acquaintance saying he had reason to believe it was torn up by a bear. Now this mountain is near a former orchard, and no one hunts on that land. The orchard is right behind my house. He said he was certain, especially in view of the range of travel of bears, that I had experienced the presence of a black bear.
The Next Day
The next day, our cat (who always begs to go out most vehemently), when the door was opened, began to exit; however, she quickly changed her mind. Figuring the bear was gone, I took the dog for its late morning walk. Then, forgetting our experience of the night before momentarily, I heard (and the dog heard and was startled) a strong rustling not far away. The rustling was just out of view, but I decided not to attempt seeing what caused the noise. Rather, I exited post-haste in the direction of home!
Back to Normal?
The last few days, everything seems to be back to normal. Will I return to the complacent sense of normalcy I once knew? No way, Jose. I’m not-after all-stupid! In fact, I’d like to think I’m “smarter than the average bear!”