Is nothing sacred? It is getting as if you cannot even take a dump in the woods in peace anymore.
A recent bear attack in Canada may have literally scared the living crap out of a man, in a story that should give every backcountry enthusiast pause before squatting in the woods again. Beware; reading further may just ruin one of nature’s most pleasurable experiences in the outdoors for evermore.
Recently, a Canadian man was attacked by a black bear, while minding his own business in an outhouse in central Canada. The bear pulled him right off the crapper by his pants, which were, naturally, down around his ankles. The man apparently fought back with nothing but his will to live, and some extra toilet paper. Luckily, his companion heard all the yelling and shot the bear before it had a chance to do any serious damage.
Despite the comical nature of the situation, this is no laughing matter. The 65-year old man had numerous scratches and bites on his back, but was not seriously hurt. He would likely have been killed if not for his friend, and his friend’s rifle. I wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries, and congratulate him on an exciting story, far exceeding my own most hair-raising backcountry experience.
Why would a black bear suddenly attack a person, particularly in this way? Could the man have eaten something really spicy the day before? Were the men hunting the bear earlier, and it just decided to catch them unawares before it ended up as a rug or a taxidermic oddity? Or maybe, the bear was sick of going in the woods and just wanted to use the toilet.
This story really strikes us all where we live, or poop, as the case may be. We are at our most vulnerable while doing our business in the woods. The only way to manage this vulnerability is wait to go until it is a near emergency, then do your business, pull your pants up and get the heck out of there. This should be nothing new anyways, as it is standard procedure during bug season.
For those of us who journey far off trail, where there are no facilities, perhaps it might be wise to rethink the whole strategy for choosing a place to take a dump. Although finding a protected spot for privacy’s sake is usually the standard procedure, an open area might be a better choice where it is easier to spot any large animals approaching.
If this bear behavior catches on in the Adirondack black bear community then everyone in the Adirondack backcountry could be at risk. The High Peaks Wilderness might turn into a deserted wasteland, as bears hang around campsites, stalking anyone with toilet paper in their hands. On a positive note, at least the less popular places should remain safe. I rarely see bears in the Five Ponds or Pepperbox Wildernesses, tucked away in the lonely northwestern Adirondacks.
Realistically, there is little to fear, as this bear attack occurred near Sioux Lookout, which is in northwestern Ontario, nearly 200 miles north of the Minnesota border. It is doubtful such behavior could travel such a far distance to the Adirondacks anytime soon, even if the bear do have access to a honeycomb Internet.
If for some reason similar behavior does make it all the way to the Adirondacks, the bears would probably receive the exact same fate as that unfortunate bear in Sioux Lookout. Then again, if it took place way out in the remote Adirondack backcountry, far off the trail, where few tread, who would know? This may just lead to a new thought experiment about observation and the nature of reality; if a bushwhacker is eaten by a bear while taking a crap, does it still stink?
Just be warned, squat down in the woods at your own risk. Then again, if you have to go, then you have to go. This bear attack story won’t keep me out of the Adirondack backcountry, but I am pretty sure it will be on my mind the next time I find myself squatting down in the middle of the woods. How about you?
Photo: Outhouse at Sand Lake in Five Ponds Wilderness by Dan Crane.