Over At Last
Many nights a year we have bears of all sizes and types come
through our yard. 99% of the time they nose around for a while
looking for something to eat. We keep our garbage put up and
leave nothing for them to eat, so they wander off back into
We have never had a problem with them. We don't have a dog because
we like for the moose and bears to come through. It's a nice
thing to know that they still can roam freely here without causing
any undo stir. That's the way we want it.
The problem is some of the folks on the mountain are lazy and
don't haul their garbage off regularly. They leave too much
out for hungry bears to get into. Soon the bears learn how easy
it is to get garbage than berries or fish. They get acclimated
to human food and loose their fear of humans.
That is basically the problem we had this week. As I have stated,
a big grizzly has been hitting our next door neighbors freezer
that was kept under the deck.
It was not either of us that caused the big bear to learn that
freezers were full of food. It had been trained to scrounge
on human food and garbage.
The fact of the matter is the bear had lost normal fear of humans,
and was determined to raid what ever he could.
This old boar was about 900-1000 pounds and the most awesome,
and horribly intimidating bear I have ever seen.
I was able to drive over, get out of my truck and either shoosh
him, or shine my light on him. He would leave and usually stay
gone the rest of the night.
He would wander off down the road and tear into another neighbors
Most of the people on the mountain keep their freezers outside
in a shed or under the decks.
I have two freezers in my shed and two more on my deck near
my kitchen sliding door.
We have never had a problem. We have always kept our garbage
locked up, so as to not attracted the bears. We don't mind for
the bears to stay down in the yard, but we don't want them on
the porch rubbing their big wet noses on the sliding glass door.
For 15 years we have had no problem with the bears, and have
enjoyed finding their tracks in the yard when they came through.
This last week has been very stressful. The big grizzly boar
had been hitting the next door neighbors freezer every night.
Every night the neighbor gal would call me and say the bear
was chomping food right under her feet in the freezer.
Her husband was out of state, and she was alone with two little
kids. She had nothing more than a piece of glass of her sliding
door between her and the bear. It scares me just to think of
how bad of a situation it was. That's why I would go over and
try to run the bear off. She bought a new freezer and we put
it in her shed. We moved most of the meat into the new freezer.
If we could have had one more day, we would have all of the
food transferred to the new freezer, and then maybe no more
Or then maybe the bear would have broken down the glass door.
It was a scenario I personally could not live with.
I had called the local Fish and Game officials, and state troopers
and told them of the graveness of the situation. I had called
almost everyday requesting assistance on what to do. I asked
them to put a live-trap cage out and catch the bear before bad
things happened. They had put the traps out before. I also told
them I wasn't going to allow the bear to hurt anyone if I could
help it. They had a lot of advice, but stated that they weren't
going to camp in the driveway to stop the bear. They also told
me if I had to "let the air" out of the bear, then
go ahead and do it. They all said that I was to skin the bear
and give them the head and hide.
I explained many times that it wasn't my responsibility to manage
bear problems. They told me that they were too busy to deal
with these problems. These bear problems occur every night and
they could no way cover them all.
The real problem is we have far too many grizzly bears here.
I can't even say how many bear-people encounters we have in
The Fish and Game experts fail to even try to manage the bear
population. They just let the "Defense of Life and Property"
clause of the law regulate how many bears are killed due to
This is a sorry way to manage bears.
They were causing me to have to make those life and death decisions
for this big mean bear. This bear was not afraid of anything,
I was able to run him off for 4 nights. Usually after I got
the call at 2:00 AM. I would have to get dressed and drive next
door and do my best to shoosh the bear away. It was a very dangerous
thing to do. Every night I put my life on the line in a very
ugly situation. I didn't like it at all. If I had just one more
day, maybe we could have had the freezer moved. Unfortunately
it didn't work out that way.
Last night I took a friend, with nerves of steel to back me
up. I had told him that the bear was beginning to resist being
shooshed, and I was afraid he was going to charge me in the
dark. I am no "chicken", but I do know how to read
bear posturing and body language. I am no stranger to dealing
with bears either.
It is almost impossible to stop a bear of this size at close
range. It was a very dangerous place to be in.
The bear came in at 11:30 PM, walked over to the freezer and
flipped it over as if it was a pancake. He ripped off the door
and proceeded to rip up the food.
We stepped out of the truck and the bear took a mouth full of
food and wandered over to the brush.
Every night for a week, the bear would leave and not come back.
Instead he would hit others freezers in the neighborhood.
I figured he was gone for the night. We got out of the truck
with our guns, and walked down the drive way. We were going
to turn the freezer back upright and put the frozen food back
This time it was different. When we were about ten yards from
the freezer, the big bear came out of the brush, quickly covered
20 yards and was within 25 yards of us. It was plain that he
was going to fight us for the food.
He roared and put his massive head down for the charge, as I
have seen bears do many times. It was no question what was coming
At that time it wasn't about the freezer, it was about the impending
blood-curdling roar and charge. It had become a life or death
situation which would take instantaneous reflects, nerves, and
skill that few could handle. I'm not boasting, most fail under
those circumstances, badly. Those are the ones with dismembered
We turned and I fired my 375 magnum, with a 300 grain bullet,
hitting the bear in the neck. A split second later followed
a shot gun slug from my partner, Joe Mandurano, through the
The bear let out a blood-curdling roar, spun around and headed
over the bank towards the river.
We hurried back to the truck which was parked 40 yards away.
We would have had no chance to make a run for it. At that distance
the bear would have easily overtaken us, slammed us to the ground,
where we both would have died in a bloody mess.
This time we were lucky.
I called the State Troopers and notified them of what had gone
down. I also told them we would skin the bear in the morning,
if we could find him.
This morning we found the big bear dead at the edge of the yard.
We had done the job that they had failed to do all week, and
I was not happy about it.
I could only think what would have happened if the gal had returned
at dark with the kids, and the bear was at the freezer eating.
I know that I could not have lived with myself.
I hated to get put into that sort of problem, but it is now
over. We stood under two hours of interrogation by a Fish and
Wildlife Investigator today. He was a nice guy just doing his
job. When it was over, we were not cited for breaking the law.
A lot of local folks came by to thank us for ridding the mountain
of a dangerous bear that had become far too acclimated to people.
Now the kids can walk the dark roads to the bus stop. This time
of the year it dark when they catch the bus.
The skin and head was turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Investigator,
and the carcass was donated to a local trapper.
Personally, I am sad about putting down such a noble creature.
I am relieved, but I do feel bad about it all.
I know I was blessed with safety and very lucky to be here.
Still, I wished it had turned out differently.
It's just one of the hassles of life.
Tonight I will sleep a bunch easier. The fact remains that there
are several more grizzly bears in the neighbor hood.
Hopefully they will make it to hibernation without any more
The bear squared over 9 feet and the skull green measured over
Bubba n Lin Hunt, "Walking The Wilderness Trail"
Pictures and full story at my web site at..
George Bubba Hunt, author of The Wilderness