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Tuesday, 16 June 2020 23:40

Under the Stars - Eric Larson Featured

Under the stars Eric Larson bearsSitting in the garage last night and talking with a neighbor over a coffee, we started talking about bears.

We all have stories about bears, be it the first time we have seen one or have woken up from sleeping under a tarp to find bear tracks all around you. That last happened in northern Saskatchewan while camping with dad as a kid.

 

I feel that bears, specifically Grizzlies are my spirit animals and that if and when I kick the bucket, the story will involve a bear. For some reason bears have never scared me when confronted by them but there have been a lot of times when my imagination of bears has left me rolled up in a fetal position sucking my thumb. 

 

Now don't get me wrong there has been lots of funny stories as well. Like when I was working up in Moonshine Lake as a Park Ranger  (now Conservation Officer). We had just received the new devices for scaring bears called bear bangers, that look like a pen with a little canister on it. Once the canister was attached, you slid back a clicker style of trigger, released and watched the banger fly and cause a mini explosion. 

 

Now that I work in safety,  I realize the follies of piss poor planning equaling piss poor results.  So we got these tools, and Phil (maybe Carey but don't think so) go out to this problem bear complaint.  Being the hero that I like to portray myself as, complete with gray Stetson,  we approach the bear. I have the banger and my partner has the rifle. A small crowd has gathered to marvel at how true heros work on a daily basis, putting our lives at risk.

 

We get the people back to a safe distance, and armed with the instructions proceed to give that bear a scare! About 30 to 40 meters away,  me in front,  partner off to my left and a step back. 

 

When I let fly it flew, and here is where the poor planning starts. The banger landed perfectly in front of f the bear, and the bear has a look on his face of deep concern. But then the banger proceeds to bounce behind the bear before deciding to explode. 

 

So for you reading this story picture a small 3 to 4 year old bear, probably around 250 to 300 lbs, with a look of oh crap on his startled face. Now picture 2 Park Rangers with a startled, OH CRAP,  look on their face as this bear runs towards them. Thankfully at a few yards the bear turns and runs off, for you see, I was standing in front of the rifle and my partner couldn't shoot.

 

We got (at least in my mind) a round of applause for being the heros we were as we slink off back to the truck to change our soiled undies. Unfortunately we had to later trap and shoot that bear, one of about a dozen that year. People a fed bear is a dead bear!

 

To finish this story we would sometimes take some steak but we alway took the baculum  That is a penis bone that some animals have. We would boil them down and make swizzle sticks. So if you attended one of our, fairly famous parties in the park trailer,  you likely found out after that you had been sucking on a bears dick ?.

 Under the stars Eric Larson bears3

There was also a few instances when Grizzlies have entered into my stories. Often there was a hunting partner,  often Doug, there to share in the fun. He will likely recount 3 or four stories when hunting up in the Grande Prairie area, of Grizzlies that we narrowly missed in the dark, or on a mountain side. Or of tracking  a black bear I shot with my bow,  beautiful brown phase, on my hands and knees through the willows, with no rifles or even bear spray.  He was a little nervous that day.

 

A couple of years ago while motorbiking in the mountains by the Small Boy Reserve,  a big griz ran about 50 yards in front of my bike. The beautiful animal came from the right and crossed in front to the north. I stopped the bike only to realize that my phone was of so I turned it on and followed the bear.

 

The bear starts loping, and I pick up my pace, soon I am at a full run. Not only was the bear into the trees and approaching a ravine,  you also have to get pretty close with a cell phone for a good picture!  The bear just stops over the crest of the hill as my phone fires up. I had taken a couple of pictures, which didn't turn out, when I looked at the bike a 150 yards away, then back at the bear who was much closer then 150 yards,  and consider how piss poor planning was involved in this encounter. 

 

After this encounter I now often carry bear spray when tramping around in the woods, because if I was a bear, I would appreciate a properly seasoned meal.

 

Likely the funniest story includes an old partner Phil S. We loaded up our backpacks for 4 or 5 days of hunting sheep in the aptly named Grizzly Mountain Range in southern Alberta. This was in the fall of 1989 and now I am a Ranger at Wyndham Carseland Provincial Park. 

 

We are on top of a mountain,  just over the peak, with our sleeping bags sandwiched between folded plastic or poly. Phil was about  a foot away horizontally but 3 or 4 feet higher on a ledge. I was on a very similar ledge bordered by a fairly steep and really long first step. 

 

Glassing the slope facing us we noticed movements.  Big rocks rolling down the mountain.  Scan up and there is a sow griz and a couple cubs likely from the previous year. 

 

The conversation goes like this:

Phil- how far do you suppose they are from us?

Eric- about 4 maybe 5 miles.

Pause, likely a pregnant pause.

Phil- how far can a bear travel in a night?

Eric- over 40 miles is not unheard of.

Phil- how big do you suppose those rocks are?

Eric- as big as the cubs 4 or 5 foot round and hundreds of pounds. 

Phil- that is what I thought.

 

As it gets dark, and we crawl into our sleeping bags, the loaded rifles beside each of us. I swore I never slept a wink, until suddenly I open my eyes and it is all white. 

" Holy shit, I got eaten by a bear and this is the inside of the stomach!" I sat bolt upright and I almost once again crapped my pants. For obviously I had slept at some point and there was 6 or so inches of fresh snow over top the plastic which was over my face. I am not sure I have ever been more startled in my life, either before or since. 

 

Like all my numerous bear encounters,  we laughed afterwards. For there is an old saying that I will leave you with....

 

WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU, MAKES YOU STRONGER

EXCEPT BEARS, THEY WILL JUST KILL YOU! 


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Last modified on Friday, 19 June 2020 23:57

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