Could I take it?
I have this thing I do when I see animals, especially shows about animals. I thought everyone thought like this, but apparently they do not. Whever I watch a Discovery show about some animal (which is almost weekly, if not daily), I ask myself this: Can I take it? Specifically, if I ran into this animal in the wild and I were by myself, could I kick its ass if necessary? Because we have a horse and do a lot of camping, it is important to know these things.
So, I first think… will the animal attack me? For example, a deer or moose could totally kick my ass, but would never attack. So, I don’t worry about those. Elephants? yes, they attack… but there aren’t any native to North America so I don’t sweat elephants. Mountain lion? It would surely do some damage, but I could fight it off before it killed me. How about a snake? Sure, it might mess you up… but you wouldn’t die. Eagles, hawks, ravens etc? I ain’t afraid of no birds!
So, is there any animal I might encounter in the mountains (or city for that matter) that I need to be concerned about? Yes, and there is only one. A bear. I have no chance against a bear. Fortunately, they rarely attack. Here is why they might: they are super hungry, you scared one, you are between a mother and cub. The first and third you can’t do much about, except to die a horrible horrible death. You can do something about the second, though. It is called ‘hiking loud’. See, if you are quietly wandering through the woods on foot and stumble upon a bear… this is really bad. The bear is more surprised than you are, and will attack in ‘self defense’, thinking you snuck up on it to attack.
This reminds me of some seemingly super bad bear advice we got camping one year. We were up at St Elmo, and were told bears were active in the area. The ranger dude gave us a pamphlet on bears, which stated we should do this:
hang your garbage from the center of camp, at least 20 feet up. It can’t be up a tree, either. Bears climb trees. It has to be suspended between two trees.
I guess they are thinking this is bear-proofing your campsite. I see it rather differently. What I see is that you are inviting a bear into your camp because he smells the food hoisted. Now you have a very hungry and rather angry bear in your campsite. See the problem? Hanging your garbage over your site is like bear incense.
So, instead we did this. Dragged the garbage that we couldn’t burn the 100 yards to the road. That way, if a bear wants it he can have it. Otherwise, we pick up our garbage and throw it in the trucks as we leave.
*update > apparently maybe I should be worried about coyotes too. All the more reason to kick every dog you see. ha ha.