Early summer mornings for a week, the 3 dogs were barking furiously outside our lodge around 5 or 6 am for no apparent reason. The sun would barely start rising when the dogs would suddenly just start barking like maniacs and not quit. We checked on them to see if maybe some deer or porcupine got their interest, but we saw nothing as the dogs clearly were picking up on something we weren’t seeing deep inside the shadowy forest.
One early misty morning, as my roommate opened the back door to feed the dogs, he abruptly slammed it and yelled out “There’s a bear outside eating the dog’s food!” We ran to the window and sure enough there was a black bear chowing down at the dog food bowl right outside the back steps. He was big, and clearly loved the dog kibble. All 3 dogs were barking like maniacs to reclaim their morning meal from this intruder, but the bear gave zero fucks.
The next morning, we kept watch and called Jim over the moment it returned. He grabbed his rifle on his way over and slowly approached. He aimed the rifle at the bear for what felt like a minute…
The sound of the rifle echoed across the clearing. Immediately the bear turned and ran into the woods. We were fully expecting it to drop dead in it’s tracks from the 30-06 rifle’s bullet, so this was a surprise. He was a full grown black bear, and he showed no signs of even being wounded as he disappeared into the forest we lumber-jacked in every day. “I could have sworn I shot him right in the chest” Jim said.
Now it was starting to sink in for me; there are fucking BEARS in the woods we’ve been working in every day?! And now one of them is pissed off and knows where to find food. For the next few weeks, I kept a careful eye open for the intruder to return, but the dogs stopped barking after that day.
A week later, a waft of stench would get carried on the breeze from deep in the woods. Try as we might, we couldn’t actually locate the putrid source. Days later, the dogs started ignoring the kibble we fed them but were starting to get noticeably fat. One day, one of the dogs proudly emerged from the bush with a prize-winning bone in his mouth the size of a man’s leg. Later, another dog emerged with what looked like an extremely hairy human hand and fingers. A closer look revealed it was a set of bear paws with long claws. Obviously, the bear was indeed hit by Jim’s rifle but was able to just keep running into the forest until he succumbed to his bullet wound.
Two things stood out to me from that incident. First, there are wild bears wandering about in the same 100-acre woods I worked in daily. Second, Jim has a fucking rifle out here!