Black bear – tranqualized by a swede saw!

1995 – 97. Sugar Lake the property where I spent a winter, and two summers, more of that later. About an hours drive east to Cherryville    from Vernon B.C.,_British_Columbia    This is as far into the Canadian wilderness one can come. Between Okanagan   and the Kootenees. All the major Canadian wildlife is here; Grizzlies, Black Bears, Moose, Deers, White and Black tails, Wolves and  Cougars (mountain lions), lynx; and everything else. A place to feel home for everybody.

I purchased this beautiful property and had it hand logged by the Ohashi Bros Logging, Lumby BC.  The average age of the loggers was 67 ! You might not believe it. They hand logged a quarter section that winter. I have never seen such dedication and skills. Machines can not do this work. They left every tree under 8 “. No damage to the land. Just a few trails that benefited animals and us. This will provide a sustainable forest. I got over 350 truckloads of good timber out that winter, and more timber later, as it developed.

After the logging, I spent lots of money to seed the right type of wildflowers and grasses for that elevation, and terrain, at about 1.200′ elevation. My friends at Forestry and Agriculture had the knowledge, and I had the money to do the best seeding possible for that area. The wildlife flourished. Sweet red clover 5′ high, smaller white clover, all the various flowers and grasses; just a heaven for birds, bees and wildlife.

The whole idea was to re seed plants and flowers that sustained the animals, insects; especially bees; birds and everything, else that lives in a natural forest. Black bears were very much part of the landscape. I had learned to respect them. Grizzlies was not so usual, but they were there and killed my sheep, and scared my horses away. 

One nice summer day I took a small swede saw (bow saw), to cut a small tree that had fallen over the gravel road to my camp. I had soccer shorts, nothing else, and plastic thongs (slippers) on my feet. It was about 500 yards from my camp. My border collie “Lita” was as usual always around, always running, never still. As I was sawing on this small tree blocking the trail, I suddenly felt “Lita’s” wet nose behind my ankles.

As I looked up, still sawing away, I saw this bear, just 10′ away. He was wondering what the hell I was doing. He was on the way down his usual trail, and here was this stupid man sawing on a tree, and this stupid little dog, hiding behind his feet, shaking like a fish on land.

I was not very brave. A swede saw in my hand. A nervous dog at my heals. Plastic slippers on my feet, 500 yards back to camp safety. As I continued sawing, I considered these options, and a few more; but I did not panic. I said to myself and the bear: “Just take it easy, I am just going to cut this tree, then I am walking home to camp”

The bear seemed to follow my sawing. He nodded his head in tune with my sawing. Following each move. Seemed to be mesmerized by the rhythm. he probably never seen anything like it, and the sound of a sharp saw is actually pleasant,  and he was may be just curious, as bears are.

I whispered to “Lita”; to get the hell home ! Dogs and bears are the worst combination a man can have. If the dog barked, the bear will attack; the dog will hide behind you, and you are dead. If you like to live; you shoot your dog first, and the retreat as quiet as you can !

This works only with black bears; Grizzlies and Kodiak just kill you anyway, just for no reason.

This bear was just a curious and friendly. When the log fell down, I said loudly to myself and the bear, ” that I was now finished here, I would walk home, slowly, without pissing in my pants, and he could do his thing as he would”. It is difficult to walk away from a bear, and not look back and see what he is doing. But it is probably the safest way. Except grizzlies – expect death.

I was not easy to walk and not run, the dog ran back home, but as I realised the bear was not following, I became brave and even sang something, for all the ones in the bush to hear.

When somebody sings in the wilderness; Can anybody else hear it ?

I remember one moose, that year especially, I did not name him, he was always  just “moose”. He was there all year, with the horses before the grizzly scared them away, and after.

Followed my trails down to the river crossing all winter, and back up again to the camp. I had a haystacks that should have been feed for the horses, and this one moose and a few deer made good use of it over winter.

I felt so safe in a way, having this moose in the hillside, always within sight of my camp. An unspoken friendship, lasting all winter long.

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