I have more squirrels than leaves on trees this year. You can’t throw an acorn and not hit a chipmunk. I had mice trying to make a nest under the hood of my truck…a truck I drive every day.
I’ve seen rabbits in our driveway…we’ve NEVER had rabbits. The cat brought me a baby possum for a gift this spring. We have a resident raccoon (unwelcomed, but still a resident) that eats all eggs the silly free range chickens lay around the yard.
I have enough coopers hawks to string from here to the moon and back. And I almost tripped and fell over a young red tail hawk trying to kill one of my chickens the other day...on my front porch. I saw a mama hen turkey and her 10 “turkey-lets” running through the neighbor’s yard a few weeks ago.
I have confirmed sightings of both red foxes and coyotes. And proof of a bobcat and her kittens visiting (cute little paw prints in the mud).
Yes, folks…I thought I had seen most everything on the mountain. Then, I was awoke about midnight last night to something banging around in the driveway.
I shook my husband’s arm and whispered (because, you know, in the house, we have to be stealth and whisper…), “I think there is something outside!”
“I put that trash in the back of my truck. I bet that raccoon is in there, destroying that bag!”
We are trained professionals when it comes to critter home invasion. We can go from dead asleep to armed and ready in about 6.2 seconds. We scamper for flashlights, the shotgun and boots and make for the door. We creep out in the night and LIGHTS! Nothing. We look in the truck bed and the bag of trash is ripped wide open, but no masked devil to be found.
I run around the truck, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ringed tailed varmint dashing off into the woods. I get about three steps past the truck bed and stop dead in my tracks.
“It’s a BEAR!”
You know that moment, when you are expecting, like a kitten to appear around the corner, and a mountain lion greets you? I had that moment. I am standing about 15 feet from a medium sized black bear. For a moment, I just kinda had to stand there, because, you know…what else do you do?
I guess any sane person at that point would had turned and run as fast as they could back in the house. Me? I took a step forward. I don’t know why. The bear just seemed so calm and so interesting. And, in muck boots and boxer shorts, I am invincible. At that point, my husband reminded me that black bears are fast, they maul and eat people and they don’t like hugs.
The funny part was, as close as we were to him (or her), he was so calm, so gentle looking. You would think, after being roused off his dinner, he would have growled at us or stood up or gotten defensive – or at least high tailed it out of there. That bear took about five steps away from where he was dining, turned around, looked at us and plopped down on his big, fuzzy rump and just sat and looked at us. Nothing about his posture or behavior was aggressive. If anything, he was just hanging out. Almost like, he was posing for a photo opp – like he’d done this before.
We made our way back to the safety of the house and snapped some pictures from the deck, as Mr. Bear made his way off into the night to scrounge for more food. Again, his retreat was slow and meandering. And, he didn’t go back into the trash in the truck.
I laid in bed last night, trying to go back to sleep, thinking of the repercussions of a resident bear. What if it starts breaking into the coop and killing chickens? What if it wrecks my beehives?
Several months back, when I was raging against the raccoon, I set our small game trap pretty consistently every night. There was a few weeks were something BIG was robbing it and tossing the trap around. Oddly, even when I set up the trail cams, I could never figure out what it was that was robbing the trap. I guess our bear has been visiting for a while and we have just now met him, face to face, for the first time.
I came to the conclusion, when I turn off the lights at night, there’s a world out there that just wakes up. And that world’s been doing that since the beginning of time. So, as long as Mr. Bear wants to hang out and the worst he does is occasionally tear up a trash bag or two, well then, I think we can live with that.