Black Bear

Day 69 of 365

In a strange kind of way, I have a long history with bears. When I was a kid, my reoccurring nightmare was being mauled by a bear. I had it over and over and over. As a result, I am really scared of bears. Ridiculously so, I think. Over the years, we have had enough black bear visits around here that I am not quite so skittish as I used to be. Still, I have to tell you I am NEVER going camping in Yellowstone. Ron is from Montana and has done this, which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

photo credit: John Thomas, Unsplash

We have had bears visit our property several times. Once, it was in the middle of the afternoon. Boudica was a puppy and never even saw it, but Ron and I looked up one day while we were eating lunch on the deck, and there, inside the mobile chicken coop, was a young black bear. He was not eating the chickens, thankfully. He just had his big paws in the chicken food and was scooping it up and into his mouth as quickly as he could. Poor bear!

Ron chased him away, and we called the game warden, just to be safe. The game warden said it was the time of year when young bears were hungry and that, as soon as the berries came ripe, the bear probably wouldn’t be taking such chances.

A more recent bear visit was a visit we didn’t witness; we just saw the aftermath. We were going about our chores one morning when Ron discovered the fence was down. “Only a bear could take down that fence,” he said. Sure enough, as I walked around the chicken coop, I saw two giant muddy bear prints right next to the window in the chicken coop. It was like the bear was peeking in the window to see what was inside. That must have given the chickens quite the fright. Ron repaired the fence, and that was the last bear visit until now.

This afternoon, I got a message from the neighbor who lives directly behind us through the woods that they had a bear right in front of their house last night. It was like 10 feet from their front door. She asked me if we had seen it, but I had not. However, last night, very late, Boudica started acting like a wild dog. She was freaking out, and I didn’t want to let her out because, a couple of weeks ago, she was desperate to go outside and got sprayed by a skunk. Ron and Ronan say she still stinks a bit. I have no sense of smell, so she smells fine to me.

In hindsight, I should have let her out last night, as she is the best bear deterrent there is. I sure wish she still had Gus though. Those two together were the fiercest things I had ever seen. Tonight, however, I knew to let her out and do her barking work.

But when I went out tonight, I forgot.

I went out to play the duck game and put up the ducks and for some reason left Boudica inside. I took the flashlight because Ron said the two of the chickens at the back of our property, right near the woods, didn’t want to go up this evening. He said we needed to remember to close them up later, especially with a bear in the area.

So I got the ducks tucked in and took the flashlight out to close the door on the mobile chicken coop and make sure everyone was tucked in out there too. I decided to shine the flashlight into the woods to see if I could see anything.

I cannot tell you how many times I have shined the flashlight into those woods, half scared because of my imagination, never to see a single thing. Tonight, about thirty feet from me, there were eyes looking back.

I froze, and the goosebumps came. I realized it was the height of a bear and the eye shape made me think bear. They were shining a yellow-green. They were so still and there for so long that I started to second guess myself. Maybe it was a reflection of something, I thought. But then they moved. Then, they were gone.

I ran to the chicken coop door. One rooster was still sitting in the door way. I shoved him into the coop, told him it was for his own good, closed the door, and ran to get Boudica.

“Do your work, Boudica!” I said. And so she did. With gusto.

I came in and Googled pictures of bear eyes at night, and yes, that’s exactly what I saw. Tonight, I am extra, extra thankful for Boudica.

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