Black Bear Country Dilemma

Nothing is set in stone, says the plaque carved out in stone. Irony is everything. So you will quite imagine my reaction when my bear-lovin’ husband refused flat out to go hiking in the impossibly verdant mountains of Vermont before falling into a deep snooze.

I should also ideally sleep because I had absolutely zilch of it last night in all the excitement of setting out on our first American road trip after the move. It is all so bloody exciting that I cannot begin to express it in words. I feel that to communicate it thoroughly I should do a wonky jig and then OD on maple candies like Ross. But all I have at the moment is a bottle of organic maple syrup that I bought in a tiny pretty town which I shall tell you about later. Meanwhile it is pouring outside – the pitter patter is hypnotic but I could do without it – and tomorrow is supposed to be a washout. Old men are doling out advise to the young that they should go fishing. We are yet to decide what we shall do. What we therefore have been planning is a hike the day after.

As we were planning our thoughts over succulent Thai curries and sticky rice, washed down by appropriate amounts of red wine and beer, Adi decided that I would be a nightmare even if I were armed with bear spray.

He: ‘You would be scrounging around in your bag to find it first and then declare 10 times over how there are too many things in it.’

I: ‘I would not.’

He: ‘Oh yes you would and then you would possibly ask the bear to pause awhile before you could fish it out.’

I: ‘You would be surprised. There are other ways. The most famous one: Slap the bear.’

He: ‘And how do you propose to do that? Bears are tall. Would you ask him to bend for you?’

I: ‘I have ways that you know not of. I will leave him a meal of ghost chilli pepper wings’ (I think ghost chilli peppers are popular in America – for I detected bottles of them today in a fresh market at a services stop. I knew Americans are a bit odd – now now, don’t get your panties in a twist!).

I did my research a while ago. It seems that in a decade the black bear population in Vermont has shot up from 50 to a rough count of above 200. As a result the smaller-than-the-grizzly but generally not too friendly black boys have been visiting their human neighbours. Like the guy who was in his kitchen doing some kitchen work (of course) when he thought someone was at the door. There was someone there alright. A big furry bundle in black weighing about 400 pounds, that’s all.

Once the rural folk of this green mountain state had hunted down their large population of bears to woeful numbers, sometime in the 1800s, and it was controlled. Subsequently ended up wiping them out almost. And now here we are. More bears than humans in the forest. I am not complaining for I love all cuddly animals, though I will gladly exhange a bear for a Newfie or Leonberger anyday, everyday.

The point of this long, bleary-eyed prattling is that, we could do with some bear country wisdom from you out there. I know of a blogger but he is out hiking for months I believe.

So my good folks, SOS. That is because I am an optimist. Just about the hike. Not about Adi doling out bear hugs despite his wariness about meeting those big bumbling boys of the forests.

Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

57 thoughts on “Black Bear Country Dilemma

  1. Would it be terrible if I agreed with Adi about how the possible bear attack would go down πŸ˜› You’re just meant to back off if confronted right? Not run and freak out which would be my probable reaction, and that would not go well!
    However, I wish you two a bear-free hike πŸ˜€ but just in case, keep the spray close by πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha you are completely sane in agreeing with Adi. He is my voice of reason in life.
      It seems, unfortunately enough, that the hike will have to wait. Starting yesterday night it poured today, all day. xx


  2. You need my friend Robyn who lives in North Eastern Kingdom VT and gets the odd bear on her land. She says the best way is to ignore them. Don’t run. Ever. They will chase. Don’t climb a tree … they are brilliant tree climbers. They are curious but generally will not attack. That said Vermont is huge and 200 is not so very many really. Hike, dear Dots, please hike – for me … Vermont is one of my favourite places in the whole wide world. Meanwhile if it is very rainy. Go to the local library and ask about covered bridges. They are adorable. But I am a little obsessed xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My darling Osyth, I know what you mean by favouring Vermont. It is a dear place, the mountains, the coniferous forests, the creeks and rivers, …I am finding it so charming. We managed to see one of the pretty covered bridges but we plan to see more tomorrow.

      Your friend Robyn lives in such a beautiful part of the country. I would take bears as a happy addition to my life and learn bear language too to make new friends. I am working on Adi – that we should move here. I would live in a village like Manchester without a second thought. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We could be neighbors then because shhh – don’t tell, but our Plan B if we need to stay in the US (pensions, healthcare all that stuff is in the US because my husband has lived and worked there for 28 years) we will choose Vermont and the bears (and moose πŸ˜‰ ) xx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is investment in the States alright. I would plague you both with bakes and goodies then because I need to shower someone with all that I bake instead of just the bears. We could adopt a moose and bear between us neighbours – just a thought πŸ™‚ xx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Good thought. Very good thought! I’m keeping my eye on politics like a Bald Eagle lordly on a high peak. Brexit, Europe and the US makes for a heady mix but in the end it comes down to where we will get the best bang for our Retirement buck in a place that we think we could be happy in. So its France or Vermont and I’m sticking there otherwise my tiny brain will explode. Bakes and goodies sound divine. I see you as Miss Dotty Baking B flying the flag for Britain whilst simultaneously (entirely for entente reasons, of course) embracing the US. Which does bake rather well, non? Xx

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      4. They do bake well but things are a bit too sweet. But their pancakes, they are the king of those beauties. Fluffy and ethereal. Has someone written verses on them already?

        The image of a bald eagle surveying all with a gimlet eye is precious. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I agree and some of the confections that appeared in the shops in fall were scary to be honest … marshmallow fluff pie, lemon popsicle popping candy cake etc etc. But those pancakes. I could eat a stack right now!! Write that verse. Eulogise Dotty – this is your destiny!! xx

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  3. I ran into many black bears in the north east when hiking and backpacking. Black bears in the woods ( in the north east ) do not associate humans with food in a way city bears do and usually take off as soon as they hear you. You have to be very stealthy to actually run into them as they are good listeners and try to avoid you. There are simple rules that prevent one of getting too friendly.. make some noise ( I am not talking pots and banging but a reg conversation or song when alone will do ), use a bear container or rope food up in a tree, don’t make camp in the middle of a berry field, there is a reason you are not suppose to make camp close to water sources and trail ( including herd paths ).

    If you do encounter one, don’t run, let her/him know you are there, don’t mess with cubs or get between mom and cubs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Make noise on the trail and they’ll go the other way. If you see one, back away slowly, talking in a normal voice so they can hear you’re human. Make yourself big, arms over head. If you get face to face, punch it square in the nose (works for sharks and maybe for bears too), ? Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha I appreciate the punch-y advise. I hope I have enough punch in me by then! A shark and a bear both respecting the punch. I fear I am so unsuitable for meeting both, Paula. How is the run going? Suitably bushed for a long nice meal? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Haha! Very funny dialogue between you and Adi. I like the idea of the bear bending down for a slap πŸ˜‰ Lex and I saw bears twice on our trip last year and they were Grizzlies. One was a teenager in Canada lumbering across the highway and the other were a family of a mama bear and her two cubs in Yellowstone. Both were viewed from our car. It was an amazing experience! Hope you are able to catch a glimpse of some bears on your trip if not, the maple syrup sounds pretty good. Have a great trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am hearting the sound of the teenage bear lumbering across a highway. I think it is a great idea not to make close acquaintance with bears leave alone angsty girls & boys.
      The maple syrup is driving me crazy and Adi is having a rollicking time making fun of me including taking potshots at my stature ? Thank you Neek. I hope you are having a good weekend. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Best not to get involved with bears. I could be wrong but I’ve got a feeling it won’t end well.

    (And they’ll be big and won’t take kindly to anyone who nicks their porridge.)


    Liked by 1 person

  7. I live in bear country and have seen lots of them…they were never interested in me. The only time I ever used bear spray was to test it, see if it works. If you do this, make sure you check wind direction first….trust me on this!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Caroline, I was telling Adi about it and we both had a good laugh. It reminded us of my misadventures with a pepper spray. I had tried to use it on a lizard which scurried away apparently unharmed while I choked. It was awful. So I trust you on that piece of advice. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haha…fun to laugh about this after the fact and I’m glad I’m not the only one who had an unfortunate blunder with the spray. Truth be told, I had my son with me, who suffered more than I did. I was worried that Child Protection Services would deem me an unfit mom!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! I cannot believe how much the bear population has grown! I’m glad you survived. How is Vermont? I have been wanting to visit.

    ❀ Alana

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not too bad. Actually if I do not pretend to be oh so cool about it, it is charming, so charming that I want to go live there. I did not get a chance to meet the bears but yes they are on my list πŸ˜‰ xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the sound of the scurrying away. It had been worrying us about prospective hikes but now we shall venture out with chests stuck out. You see Bryson had alarmed me a bit when he had said in A Walk in the Woods, “If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want.” Of course we have to take his mock tone into account.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, probably true but a bit exaggerated I think. I think they are more afraid of you vs. you of them. Be cautious but don’t let it ruin your fun. You could always get a Bear bell and attach it to your pack. Th sound will , scurry them away ?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Of course he exaggerated. He is so funny. I realised the level of that exaggeration as I hear everybody’s bear experience. There is a bear bell?! Why that does sound adorable. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Look m up they are super cute. I bought one in Canada for the look and the cuteness, but to this day I have never used it since I want to see the bears and not scare them away, haha.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ahahaha I did. They are not quite sure if it works…the large multitude of bear enthusiasts but well they are asking those who have not bought a bear bell to yodel. As it happens, we are watching a documentary on a black bear mamma on Nat Geo. My husband is going a little bonkers so I have got to curb it before he goes full-on crazy on me.
        I would not mind seeing one too btw though from afar. xx

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Haha that’s cracking me up and yeah distance is good in some cases lol. I’m picturing you walking through the wild yodeling hahaha. I should make a video the next time I’m out for you. Hugs crazy nut.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Nisha, thanks but I shall opt out since I have already been there with the Leibster and now I am done with taking part in awards. But tomorrow I shall hop over to yours to have a read. Have a great Saturday πŸ™‚ Goodnight girl. xx

      Liked by 1 person

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