Close Encounter With a Black Bear

By The Beekeeper /

I had just come home from the local beekeepers meeting and was getting ready for bed when the sensors around the bee yard began toning off. It was a late November evening and I knew black bears were looking for resources to top off their stores for the winter. What better way then to take down a few beehives full of honey? Clutching my 1911 in one hand and a flashlight in the other, I crept outside and startled an adult black bear. It “woofed” and ran off into the wooded darkness. I circled the north side of the apiary to see if the bear damaged the electric fence. Satisfied there was none, I knelt down with the flashlight to check out the imprints of the bear paws on the ground. That’s when bark, twigs and other debris began raining down on my head and shoulders. I stepped away from the white oak no more then three feet from me and, using my flashlight, started following the tree up towards its branches. Fifteen feet above me was a cub. I had two simultaneous thoughts. To wit:  “Huh. Look at that. A bear cub / Oh shit! A bear cub!” I guess the 4500 lumens shining into its eyes was painful because it let out a very loud, plaintiff wail. Translated it meant, “MOMMY!!” That’s when I heard the sow barking, woofing and charging towards me. I’ve faced down some pretty bad actors in my life, but something way back in my brainstem said, RUN! Let me tell you, it’s amazing how fast you can run when you suddenly realize you’re not the highest thing on the food chain.

The above photo is of a male black bear outside one of our bedroom windows.

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