black bear

by underswansea


Spring is always a busy time. When I was younger it was even busier. Work made me neglect things, like time spent in the bush. These days it would be easy to do the same, but times have changed for Lisa and I.  For one thing our kids are grown and doing well. Somehow that happened, and it is our biggest source of pride. Second, Willow NEEDS her walks.

Willow and I set out in the evening. She was raring to go. It was my intention to look for orchids and snap some pictures in the setting sun (one can never have too many pictures of orchids).

It wasn’t long on the trail and we came upon a one or two year old Black Bear. Bears in the wild almost always hear or smell you coming and run in the opposite direction. They can also be curious and parallel your path through the bush. This can be very unnerving for dogs.

Willow and I have encountered bears on several occasions. Each time she has handled herself well. A good dog can be your eyes, ears and nose in the mountains.  I can’t say enough about the Wire Haired Dachshund breed for these traits.

This time the bear was on it’s hind legs looking at us. It dropped down and was on it’s way. Willow gave two barks. It must have scared the bear because it headed up the nearest tree.

I took a couple pictures keeping trees between us. This is for the animals comfort as well as mine. Also works with birds.

A couple minutes and it backed down the tree, while we went back the way we came.


Other than driving through Kootenay National Park, this is the first bear I’ve seen this year. I worry about them. They are easy to hunt and some of their parts have become valuable in other parts of the world.

A few years ago several were found dead, out of season, with hands, gall bladder and head missing.

If a bear is threatening, I can understand it being killed. Also, if you need it for meat or it’s hide for warmth. Other than that, there is no reason to kill them. Sport is not a good enough reason.

I know about hunters baiting bears. Putting out meat and then shooting them when they are feeding. It’s infuriating. How can that be anything but sinful?

My father and I hunted together when I was a youngster. Some of my fondest memories are of the hunting trips we had along the Palliser River.  I remember carrying the rifle while walking the trails. Dad used to put one shell in the rifle so it wasn’t any heavier than it had to be. He used to say make that first shot count. I remember gutting and skinning deer and hauling the meat out of the bush.

One year my father got a bear tag. I was probably ten or eleven years old. We shot a bear that year. It was a large black bear. It seemed so much easier than tracking deer. While skinning the bear I felt awful. We didn’t talk. When it was done my father said, and I won’t forget, ‘Sad, right?’

We were after the hide. The meat was butchered and given away. It seemed like a bad trade off.

I’ve been lucky with bears and always felt privileged to share the same trail. Either they hear or smell me coming or I see them and we yield. We have an understanding to give each other space. However anything can happen. Willow seems to know that too.

Tonight was a wonderful encounter. Willow and I also found orchids.

Sometimes you get lucky.