50 Years Of Living With And Studying Bears. (short Essay)

Discussion in 'Wilderness' started by Sourdough, Jan 27, 2019.

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  1. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    There are THREE things that run away from a predator, Breakfast Lunch or Dinner.

    BEAR Behavior, WOLF Behavior, and Typical Predator behavior.
    __________________________________________________ _____

    All you really need to know is never retreat from a predator, if the predator is watching you. Not even one small step. Sounds simple........But, nearly impossible to manage, just not our first reaction to danger.

    In my opinion the single biggest problem for Humans in Bears encounters, is their (Human's) natural reaction to retreat rather than stand their ground. This retreating by a human (even only one step) triggers the bears "Natural" Reaction to chase. And this is just natural behavior for humans and bears.

    The young bears 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years old are very lonely, very stupid, and very curious. Which makes them inclined to approach humans and human dwellings.

    A very brief overview is, you have to watch young cubs reactions with their mother and even more closely the reactions learned between the cubs. She the mother will pick them (the cubs) up by the neck, and she will swat them. The little cub start to do this with each other as playful tag. The cub will take turns chasing each other, get caught and the one chasing will lightly grab the neck of the other.

    This is sometimes played-out with three cubs, if there are three cubs still alive. It is chase-catch-subdue, the break contact. This is a key point Chase-Catch-Subdue-Break Contact. Note: this is note restricted to bears only....foxes & wolverines I have noticed doing this, including young bears playing Chase-Catch-Subdue-Break Contact with both foxes and also wolverines. I have never seen bears "Play" with young wolves. The sows do not seem to have any concern about her cubs playing Chase-Catch-Subdue-Break Contact with other species like fox or wolverines.

    In my opinion this is what happens when a bear encounter's a human. If you watch the cubs as soon as they break contact, they fake each out back and forth to see which will run. I think this carries over for bears the rest of their life, Chase-Catch-Subdue-Break Contact. This is why "IF" a human is stupid enough to retreat they will get Chased-Caught-Subdued-(Now: if they fight being subdued, they will get mauled till subdued). If they surrender it is likely the bear will break contact.

    This explains why humans get mauled, the bear stops mauling and walks away..........but if the victim moves to soon, after the bear walks away, it will trigger another.....Subdue sequence, the bear will return and maul some more. If you look at this from the bears cub conditioning, you see it is more "playing" than attempting to kill the human. The problem is humans break very easy.

    If you study the bear mauling of humans most are not fatal. But humans have soft shells and because the main way that cubs subdue each other is by grabbing the neck or ear of the other cub. Humans break easy.

    The skittish and fearful behavior is about Size. The size of the human sillioute as compared to that of other bears. Bears are constantly judging the danger of other bears. This is the whole dance of hopping on their front feet, and popping their teeth.

    The skittishness and fearful behavior is (in My opinion) caused by their fear of being killed by another bear. I don't think it is a fear of humans as much as a fear and skittishness of any animal that stands and watches them. I think their filter is first can I (The bear) make this other "thing" (human or bear or caribou) run or retreat. As soon as it see's that the other "thing" is not retreating or worse running towards it, it shifts to skittishness and fearful. This is why you often first notice a close bear just standing there watching you. It is waiting to see what your reaction will be.

    On a slightly different bear behavior subject........I have been "Stalked" (5) five times by bears and this stalking is a completely different type of bear behavior that any other bear behavior. And very comical (unless you are not watching and it startles you and you jump......triggering Chase-Catch-Subdue). They stalk by circling and hiding, well hiding their head, leaving their huge Butt up in the air. This is a serious behavior, and it is hard to snap them out of this once the stalk has started.

    There is a big difference between a direct (More or Less) straight line walking right up to you approach and this stalking behavior. I have never been stalked by a black bear, they were all grizzly/ brown bears. Three of those times it was with a client and we were not after bears. The other two times I was alone.

    I'll follow-up with a few examples of never ever run from a bear or any predator.
  2. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    Big GRIZZLY BEAR on top of me.
    This is a perfect example of knowing that if I ran, I would very likely been chased and mauled.

    I was guiding a hunter in Wide Bay, Alaska and it was the day before the bear season opened, so the hunter and I slept in. I had two 8'X8' "Bombshelter" tents set up facing each other about ten feet apart. One was for sleeping and the other for cooking and just setting around.

    I told the hunter to stay in his bag till I get the coffee made and the cook tent heated. So I crawl out of the sleep tent on hands and knees, and figure as it is only five or six feet till I have to get back on my hands and knees, to enter the cook tent, I'll just crawl over to the cook tent.

    Well I get about halfway and a nice 900 pound plus Alaska Coastal Brown Bear comes from behind the cook tent and walks right up to me, I am still on my hands and knees. I don't want to move more than necessary, so I go down slowly onto my elbows and knees and freeze with my hands over my neck fingers locked, waiting. The bear walks up to me and sniffs my head, then continues moving till it head is over my butt, and its front feet are next to my elbows. For a long time it just stood over me, in the dominant position, with me subdued and surrendered. He just stood there and sniffs my butt, which after 80 days afield was very aromatic. Plus most likely there was dried blood on my pants from packing moose.

    As nothing was happening (I was not getting nibbled) the bear was just standing on all four feet right over top of me. I remembered I was responsible for the hunters safety and calmly told him not to move or bump the sleep tent. The bear just stayed there sniffing my butt, (the flap to the sleep tent was still open) so I calmly asked the hunter to slid a rifle out to me with out disturbing the tent. He said, "Which one do you want". Remember he still did not know there was a Brown Bear on top of me.

    I said, slide my rifle out slowly, very slowly, but he needs to stay in the tent. Well, now he wants to know what is going on......???? He says, "do you want the barrel first"....??? I said, yes and about that time as the rifle started out the flap of the sleep tent, the bear calmly raised a half ton of potential pure destruction, slowly and smoothly up and swung to his right, and slowly walked off. I watched his large butt walk away. Then made coffee. I understand that that hunter moved to Alaska. He is a very good hunter, and hunts all over the world. I am so glad he remained calm.
  3. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    A Grizzly Bear Encounter........while "NAKED & Un-Armed" I am posting this as another example of stand your ground and don't run from a Grizzly Bear.

    Brooks Range, Alaska. Near the head waters of the Noatak River & the Ambler River. We are on a private six week hunt, just my hunting partner and myself. 1970 or 1971 we had a base camp on a C-185 size lake in the main valley.

    And we would do three or four day trips back different valleys, sometimes together and some times go our separate ways and report back at base in four days. We had shot several wolves, and one Dall Sheep.

    We decided to go together back this one interesting valley for three or four days. But we saw no shoot-able game. We did get to watch two huge wolves pull down three sheep. Dejected we are returning to camp, which was out of fresh meat. Having seen nearly nothing for days, about a mile out of base camp is one caribou. I shoot the caribou, and we backpack most of it into base camp.

    It was a very hot and sweaty day, and we had most likely logged 12 to 15 miles in semi-rugged terrain, plus packed the caribou in. We get to base camp exhausted, and hot, and stinky, and bloody. So I proclaim I am going to the lake and bathe, my hunting partner wants to clean he's gear and eat.

    So I am naked at the lake washing in ice cold water, and I see movement to my right, which just happens to be a good size interior Grizzly Bear. The bear is about 30 yards away, I did not take a rifle, just soap & a Towel. The bear is not charging but is walking quickly toward me, and I do mean Quickly.

    I look up toward base camp and see my hunting partner studying the bear for size, and color through his binoculars and spotting scope.

    Now the bear has stopped maybe twenty feet away from me. It is watching me, and does not see my hunting partner who is evaluating the bear for harvest. I look up expecting to see my buddy with rifle in hand, but NO he is looking at the bear still studying it. The Bear slowly walks toward me, I am buck naked, head covered in soap, the bear is about 10 feet away. And I am looking back and forth between the bear and my friend. The bear moves closer to about five feet, I look up and my hunting partner now has his rifle, but is not aiming at the bear.

    So I said are you going to shoot......? He said, No it is the wrong color. Now mind you while we are talking the Grizzly Bear is just standing there on all four feet watching me just over arms length away. It never looked up toward base camp or at Bill.

    Bill yelled, "Go on, get out of here". and to my good fortune it did a 180 and left the way it came. We later figured it followed the bloody trail of the blood dripping off the Caribou meat we had just packed in an hour earlier.

    We made that six week private safari style hunt in both 1970 and 1971. No one goes on six week hunts anymore. Sadly.

    Bill, later shot a nice Grizzly Bear the color that he wanted, it was full life-size mounted and has been on exhibit at the Anchorage International Airport for nearly 49 years.
  4. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    I have hundreds and hundreds of bear stories for thousands of bear encounters. I'll try to get some more posted.
    TMT Tactical likes this.
  5. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    The big dead Grizzly Bear.......well MAYBE.....?

    Don't know if Curly Warren is still using that nice Grizzly Photo for his advertising. But an Italian Hunter and I had been storm bound in the bomb shelter for two days when the sky turned blue.

    Step out of the tent and stretch and glass a bit. I spotted a porcupine and pointed at it, he thought it was a grizzly bear. I said, No Porcupine. He want to take a photo, and we needed a stretch and as it was mid afternoon we walked over there.

    So it was not a porcupine but a nice Grizzly. We were about 45 yards away. I pointed behind my shoulder, and gave the thumbs-up sign. The bear was in a clearing with tall willows on three sides. The bear was broadside, and looking straight at us.

    I had my cross hairs in front of the bear as I expected it to run straight ahead if hit. Boom his custom goes off. the Bear disappears from my scope. But I had a faint memory of the bear being sucked straight down to the earth faster than I would have thought a bear could drop. But there it was when I lower the scope in a pile.

    An hour of Photos and it is time to go to work. Now I had been moving the bear for photos several times and had not consdered if it was dead. But I wanted to check if the bullet exited so it did not get lost if it was just inside the skin. Well it had not only not exited, it had NOT ENTERED. I jumped back about 12' feet in two jumps. Then very carefully examined every part of that bear, there was NO Hole in that bear, None.

    Now I am not the brightest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. But I figure either the bear is not dead or I am having a bad nightmare. I check the eyes, nothing. Check the nose nothing. Look down the mouth nothing. I stick my little finger down each nostril and one has blood. None was on the face when we did the photo shoot.

    There was a stiff wind when he shot, anyway the bullet went right up the nostril perfect center. And did not exit the back of the skull. Very pretty bear.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  6. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    CHARGING Bear recount........just one of a few hundred.

    Oh' The stories I could tell.....
    Some of you must know Lance T. former head of Habitat at Alaska F&G. In about 70' three of us were engaged in unofficial Porcupine control. Back then there were thousands of porcupines, I don't know why. I shot 74 in 60 days that summer. (In case you are prone to being judgmental, save it.....I don't care).

    So we were shooting porky-pines between Los Anchorage and lovely Hope, Alaska. It was about 11:pM mid-May and the last, or nearly last light. We were on the rough "Dirt" road that was the Hope Road. Roughly mile 9'ish. We saw a large'ish Black Bear cross the road, and we pulled up and stopped at the spot.

    Now Lance and the other guy both had .22 LR pistols only, for executing Porky-pines. I had a Winchester model 100 in .308 Win. w/ a tip-off scope.

    So we are all on the passenger's side of the truck, and we are listening to this God awful crying and thrashing just fifteen or twenty feet away. It went on and on, and we figured that it was a sow spanking and driving cubs up a tree.

    It was almost dark, and we could hear the crashing coming to us, In one heart beat a bear busted out of the dark woods/alders/willows from about six or eight feet, coming straight a Lance T. With out thinking From the hip I shot the bear as it was with-in a foot or two of Lance T. The bear turned and went 180* the way it had come, back into the dark woods.

    Now all Hell broke-out 15 feet away, crying and thrashing, and crashing, and it is now dark-dark. The story is getting long, so I'll wrap it up. I tipped off the scope, went in after the wounded bear (Which was hit center behind the shoulder). I skillfully missed the badly wounded bear three times form 12 feet with iron sights. The bear was just thrashing around NOT coming at me. I eventually flipped the scope back up, and could clearly see the bear and finished it.

    OK, This is what is educational. There were NO bear cubs. The first thing I encountered on entering the woods was a day old moose calf that had a bite in the small of the back and very alive but paralyzed. Next at about 10 feet was the wounded bear thrashing around, and a P!zzed'off cow that was about 12 feet away and lurching at the bear. The calf was crying, the cow was exhaling hard, and the bear was flopping around and crying also.

    We figured that what happened is that we had not seen the cow and calf cross the road, only the bear right behind. And after the bear bit the calf in the small of the back, the cow charged the bear, and the bear retreating from the cow ran straight at Lance T. The bear was trapped between the truck and the cow. Wow I am exhausted. "Oh' but the stores I could tell"........
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  7. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member

    Blog Posts:
    Complete opposite to avoiding Drop Bears over here, you need to back off & run as fast as you can. Same with Roos.
    But when the mass emigration of people from the Southern hemisphere starts due to climate change, I will be sure to keep your advice in mind if we finish up in the US.
    Regards, Keith.
    Ystranc and TMT Tactical like this.
    1. Ystranc
      Ystranc, Aug 20, 2019
  8. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !

    Blog Posts:
    I was looking forward to your posts and you did not disappoint. Thanks for joining.
  9. Alaskajohn

    Alaskajohn Expert Member

    Blog Posts:
    IBME, are any of your stories featured in one of Jim Rearden’s books? If not, they should have been. Jim passed a few years ago in Homer. I’ve never got to meet him, but have read most of his books on Alaska.
    TMT Tactical and Sourdough like this.
  10. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    NO........none are. I also really enjoy Rearden's stories. People don't appreciate the skill it takes to tell a story.
    TMT Tactical and Alaskajohn like this.
  11. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    TMT Tactical likes this.
  12. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Master Survivalist

    Blog Posts:
    Good morning Sourdough,

    Interesting. Had a good time reading material.

    As for the lower 48, I do ask about "never retreat from a predator". Some "timid" creatures, eg the raccoon and the fox, when infected with rabies, convert to predators in various situations. If possible, get in the truck, the shed, to safety, etc.
  13. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"

    Blog Posts:
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
    TMT Tactical likes this.
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