Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bear In The Bean Rows

It all started a few weeks ago when I awoke to someone clearing their throat outside my bedroom window. Since I live in an extremely rural area on private land the sound of an unknown & uninvited someone possibly hocking a loogie right out there was un-nerving. After quite a while passed I assumed the throaty sound I heard was in my dream state rather than reality - and in spite of the slight noises outside of something sneaking away I was satisfied to go back to sleep. I knew with 100% certainty I could outsmart an intruder in the pitch dark because my house is surrounded with clothes lines, trash, snakes and tall weeds basically equaling some goonies style boobie traps for any poor soul unfamiliar with the place.
Weeks passed with no more weirdos in the night, so I was relaxed... until at the same exact time around 2:30 a.m. this morning I begin hearing the coughing and throat thing in my sleep, which shot me and my cat into complete alertness. Both me and Toots sat with ears open wide, only to hear some more coughing sounds. Since I was absolutely awake and certain someone was outside the house I stealthily (pure silence) slipped out my bed, grabbed the phone and a flashlight, crawled on the floor out of my bedroom where they might see me and hid in the other end of the house with the phone and a gun I need to learn to use. I was literally shaking, called friends to wake up to my own concerns and then called the 911.
911 answered instantly and connected me to local Po Po's which I whispered my address and my problem to- and upon realizing how far out I actually lived they said "We'll be there right away, well, as soon as we can get there." That was it, I sat there in the dark with a huge gun (not mine) that looks like an oozie and weighs half as much as me, listening for sounds, sniffing for smells, and talking to a friend on the phone to stay calm.
The whole Calvary arrived at the same time (probably within 30 mins. of my call), Police and friends all pulling up together on the gravel road. We stood in the rain outside while the police walked around getting wet with flashlights scoping out the area I pointed to, I knew exactly where the sounds had come from. One of the officers came back around to me and said " Well Mam, there are no footprints, there's no sign of someone having been out here where you heard something. I have been hunting all my life and I know tracks, a person would leave tracks in a rain like this. There are bear tracks in the bean rows..."
Whoa, what? A bear!?
He eventually gets around to telling me the most wildest crazy thing I ever learned. He says "Bears clear their throats and sound jus' like people. One time I went hunting and smelled something. I heard them clear their throat and cough just like a man, then I leaned over the rock and there was a bear eating. They cough and stuff when they eat." He then imitated the bear cough throat clearing sound. A perfect match.

So, guess who had to go out in the rain at sun rise this morning to find bear tracks... :)
That is me below wearing a rain proof jacket about 100 sizes too big for me (Thanks Bort!), to go look for signs of bear, even though I knew the hard rain would have washed the best of it away already.
I walked up and down and around every row carefully, slipping and sliding in the wet rainy mud. Till I got to the 6th row from the back and found this washed out but still nearly perfect bear track!Here is another view of it below without the arrows- of course in real life it has more depth and distinction - you couldn't miss it. This is a front paw track.
This next indention looked like a back bear paw track, very washed out but close to the other one - I could just barely make out toes for it- but when I measured them both they were almost the same exact size (length).
A pretty huge foot there, scaling in at at least 7 inches ( not counting claws since they were washed away). I have no idea what maturity level a bear that size is at- but as the hunter/policeman said "Don't go out there and try to do anything with it during this time of year." Fall creeping into winter is notorious for bears going to more extremes for food.
This last picture is of what looks like claw marks, they were on the same bean row at the other end. I didn't find much other evidence on any of the other rows - most were washed out, or the grass looked untouched. This row, all the grass was obviously smashed down by something large.
As a side note, I have never seen a bear in real life before (even though I have lived in the smokey mountains for 8 years) - but when I moved to this house in April I began having dreams about a black bear that was coming to live here. I knew it would come, I didn't know I would call 911 on it for coughing while eating greasy beans. :)



Gretta said...

That is so crazy. We never saw deer or bear growing up there. They must like you :)

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Gretta!
I am an animal magnet! When I briefly lived downtown waynesville, NC my first two days I pouted that i wouldnt see forest animals anymore - right when I was sulking staring out the window a huge deer ran right up to the window wiggled it's tail hopped in the air and ran off. After that I had ducks, a heron, and a fox coming back there- the fox actually would sit with me, about 10 feet away and chill (maybe one of the coolest animal experiences i ever had). It was crazzzzy!
Since living in WNC I have mostly seen raccoons, snakes, skunk, oppossums, an owl and some deer here and there... but no bear!
The tracks are totally washed out from the rain now. Next time something clears it's throat outside I am going to shine the light right on it and take a picture.

Mokihana and Pete said...

bear dreams. that is a major pipeline, leslie. no surprise there. the coughing tho' that's something.

Erik said...

If you really want to attract a bear, leave out a bag of stinky fast food wrappers... something like White Castle. (Not the food, just the greasy wrappers and bag). Tie it to a tree branch and leave it hanging in the air, along with a bell or other noisemaker.

I'm actually not kidding around, this time! :)

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey MOkihana -
Funny I know- now when I hear a real person cough I am going to think they are a bear. :)

I don't really want to attract one, since it's already here (and probably alot bigger then me)!! ;)
But next thing the coughs is getting spotlight shined on it.