Saturday, September 5, 2020

Weekend read: black bears

black bearBear stories. We all have them and often enjoy telling them.

This week, there was plenty of bear activity in the news. Take the viral video from Indian Lake. And we posted a story by Tim Rowland about a search party in Old Forge that was launched to locate a missing teen. When she was found right away, she told the rescue team that she encountered an angry mama bear and cubs while jogging and in her efforts to put some distance between them, the teen ran up a tree and spent the night in the tree.

Which prompted some questions, including “What’s the best way to handle bear encounters?” You can read that one and weigh in here.  Tell us your best bear story, too, in the comments here or email me at

If you care to read more, here are a few bear tales from the Almanack archive:


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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

5 Responses

  1. Tim-Brunswick says:

    I’m an “Old Guy” who’s been traipsing the woods for many, many years & about 18 years ago I was hiking/bushwhacking on an un-named peak within the Blue Mountain Lake Club Lease. It was mid-summer, buggy/humid on the day my story took place.

    The morning started more as an amble up the mountain where there are no trails and I was returning through the same area I had been in about 30 minutes earlier back to my camp when I heard a noise in front of me that was the sound of about a 10 # black bear cub who had jumped down off a leaning log and was running away from me. My first reaction was…”uh oh” and sure enough as I turned to my right about 20 yards away the cub’s mother was on all fours and shifting her weight from paw to paw, obviously making up her mind what to do about this human menace to her young one. At the same time I heard a kind of “clicking noise” which I later realized was her popping her teeth in anger. During this time I heard another noise nearby, which was a second cub running away.

    I’m an experienced outdoorsman, hunter, hiker trapper and thankfully it happened so quick that my reaction was almost immediately to raise my arms above my head to appear larger than my 5’7” height and I started talked to “Mama Bear” in a firm steady tone as I backed away from her. I told the anxious Mother “Hey, you don’t have to worry about me, I’m just going to back up here a bit and give you plenty of room”. In my 73 years outdoors, I’ve dealt with many wild animals in stressful situations and it was obvious that the Mother Bear was trying to decide whether to charge or not.

    Finally after what was really only about 3 to 5 minutes of me talking and slowly backing away, but keeping my eyes locked upon her, Mother Bear decided that the immediate threat had been de-fused and she turned tail and ran after her babies. I stayed put for about 10 minutes, then smiled about my close encounter and continued on my amble back to my camp.

    Thank you

    Tim Holt Sr.
    Brunswick, NY

    • Boreas says:

      Very cool! Sometimes I get confused though – when do you lock eyes and when do you avoid eye contact? With some animals big enough to kill us, a constant gaze is an act of aggression. Frankly, I think I would have a hard time avoiding eye contact with something that can kill me. Plus, they say bears don’t see that well…

      • tim-brunswick says:

        True they don’t see as well as many animals, but at 20 yards or so I’m sure she had no doubt I was one of those “stupid humans”…
        One thing’s for sure after about a week at camp in the Summer w/o a shower, I’m quite sure she knew there was a “stinky” human in the neighborhood, which also surprised me, cuz I had been through that area only about a half-hour earlier.

        I’ve always held that whenever somebody says a particular critter will “never” do something…there is always one that will prove that belief wrong….

  2. Jack says:

    Tim, great story and thanks for sharing. Although I’ve not had a close encounter like that yet, I have had, on two occasions, bears in my clean camp at night. 43 years ago my new wife and I spent the 2nd night of our honeymoon in a tent near Moose River Plains when we had a visit. Needless to say that was the last time she ever slept in a tent. Good Times!

  3. Bruce Prashaw says:

    Many years ago when I was living on the southwestern edge of the Adirondacks I was fishing a series of beaver dams on a streak known as Burndt Crick near Number Four. I had moved up past two or three dams when I decided to cross to the other side by crossing on the dam. I fought my way through the tag alders toward the center of the dam. As I emerged a bear emerged on the other side about thirty feet in front of me. I dropped my pole and everything else I was carrying and made record time returning to the bank. After some time when my blood pressure returned to normal I went back to retrieve my things. The bear was long gone. I guess it was as startled by me as I was of it. The middle of a beaver dam is not where you want to meet a bear.

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