But I did turn my head just a little and caught movement in the far periphery of my left eye. I turned to look and there walked a beautiful, chocolate-colored bear cub. My first thought was, “Holy...,” followed quickly by, “Little bear, where’s your mama?”
The little bear walked northerly across an open meadow. It stopped at the other side, humped up to relieve itself, and revealed that it was female.
She crossed the road and circled around toward the west. About that time, Barbara called out, “Oh, there you are.” I turned toward her and went through all of the body language gyrations and facial expressions that mean, “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” But she didn’t pick up her pace much. She thought I was excited about some turkeys.
Barbara arrived in time to watch the bear for several minutes. Finally, the cub walked straight away, into the tall grass beneath a stand of aspens, her cute little butt swishing side to side, flashing the gray-padded bottoms of her back feet with each step.
I was completely charmed by the little chocolate bear with her tan muzzle. But I sensed a different vibe coming from Barbara. I asked her about it and she said something about bears eating fawns, which is true. I was once hiking with friends and some of our kids when we came to an area where a bear had been turning rocks over in search of whatever nutrients live beneath rocks. We noted the rocks and began talking about bears. It wasn’t long before the kids were clustered close to their dads. We soon detected a really foul odor and began to search for the source. We watched for the flies that would inevitably be attending such a smell. We soon came upon a terrible smelling pile of bear scat in which were all eight tiny toenails of a fawn.
I said to Barbara, “So, if that little bear and a fawn are together and one has to die, and you have to decide which, which would you choose to die?” Without hesitation she said, “The bear.”
I am not so sure. You see fawns every day at the guest ranch, but you could go years without seeing such a pretty little cub.
Within the hour a bear hunter came riding by on a four-wheeler with a blue tick hound riding on the back. I told him about the little bear, hoping he wouldn’t pursue the mama bear out of the country.
Later that afternoon, Max, the caretaker of an adjoining property, took me to show me the way into an area Barbara had been wanting to see on our ATV. Less than a mile north of the guest ranch, we saw an exceptionally large bear. It stood and stared back at us from about 200 yards away. It was still standing there when we left.
When I got back to camp, I told Barbara about the big bear. I asked her, “If the bear hunters come back this way, should I tell them about the big bear to the north of us?” Without hesitation, she said, “Heck yes.” It was that fawn thing again.
But, I had already decided that I wouldn’t tell them about that big bear. If they located it and began a chase, it would be without my assistance. This isn’t to say I am against bear hunting. Hunting bears isn’t something I have ever done, but hunting bears keeps them wary; it tells them that humans are to be avoided, which is better for both humans and bears.
Don’t tell Barbara, but I hope the little chocolate bear grows up to reproduce.