It's 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 the woods.
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 freezer.
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 bear problems.
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 a week.
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 people encounters.
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, including me.
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 inside.
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 down.
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 body parts.
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 chest.
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 problems.
The bear squared over 9 feet and the skull green measured over 28 inches.

Bubba n Lin Hunt, "Walking The Wilderness Trail"

Pictures and full story at my web site at..

George “Bubba” Hunt, author of “The Wilderness Trail”.