It is not a scary thing to see a bear unless you have a gun in your hand. Then it becomes something else entirely. Then we must choose: to kill or not to kill. Sometimes one or the other becomes the obvious choice very quickly, other times, there is a lingering question… Should I have killed or not killed? Is this something to be proud of, or ashamed of?
It happened to me when I was 14. I was charged, shot the bear, and then saw her two cubs, so I decided to never kill a bear again. Seen maybe thousands of bears since that summer, and it has worked out just fine so far.
Three summers ago, there was a large grizzly that kept trying to break into the cabin when I was sleeping. It was freaky at first, but later it got so I would sleep through it, it happened so often. It was surreal to wake up in the morning to new scratches on the door and noseprints on the windows. Obviously this was a bear with some experience with cabins. So, we shot it with some rocksalt and scared it enough to not come back.
There were a pair of grizzly bear cubs that were abandoned by their mother the summer before last. We named the cubs and tried to train them to run from the dogs and other bears and people. Fish and Game had seen them up by the river and then in the fall, they camped out with the foxes behind the cabin. They slept under the cabin for a while. I found some pictures and so I will do a little photo blog about them. They really made life special and also gave Tazlina some experience with bears. They were both about twenty pounds when we first saw them. They slept under the cabin for a while and it was a miracle that they made it through the winter. The next summer, both of them were shot. They survived the “cruelty” of nature’s harsh winter in Alaska, but not the hand of the “great white hunter.”
With the squatter situation, the Native Corporation who owns the land bordering mine has approached the situation by hiring some folks of similar character to the squatters, a sort of fight fire with fire thing. Unfortunately, they have helped to create a now, somewhat large and perhaps dangerous mob who seemingly shoot at anything or anyone they can…. Last year I was told by two of their employees that they would shoot me if they saw me on “their” land. They actually said this to me while on My property…. They said they had just torn down all my “No Trespassing,” signs to boot. I have a video of them angry and yelling and several photos of their employees trespassing and even a photo of them tearing down a sign, vandalizing, and removing a fence. Wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so I didn’t. I just called the Troopers. Can’t be sure at this point if the photos or videos and calls to the Corporation, their Attorney or to the Troopers solved anything or not…
…So, yes, though it’s a lovely place, I can understand why not many folks actually visit me here on the front line.
Death threats, being shot at, and being charged by a bear? Welcome to Alaska where the yahoo’s voice is always heard loud and clear and everyone else can just “shet eyp,” and get out of the, “lahn of fahr.” Where it’s so corrupt, if you call the State Troopers, you are asking to be another one of their, “problems.” Everyone here knows better than to call the Troopers unless you are bleeding out and about to die.
So, yesterday night I heard about thirty gun shots and then a boat. Sounded like a big-bore high-powered rifle or 12 guage shotgun, or possibly a high-powered pistol. It didn’t have the characteristic “crack” to it like a 30.06 or smaller rifle round, so it definitely sounded like it was pushing lots of lead rather than speed, and some shots were delivered in fast succession like one would do if shooting at a bear charging at close range. So many shots still has me wondering though. Not sure why anyone would need to waste so many bullets, life threatening situation or not. It really only takes one round to bring down a bear. I sincerely hope no living creatures were harmed.
I thought maybe a big bore with a clip because those waste a lot of bullets and reload fast. My first thought was, “lever action,” when I heard the first three rounds. It sounded like wilderness distress shots: three rounds in quick succession fired in the air… But then after a several second pause, there were five more in rapid succession. It didn’t sound like two different guns… But it could have been two very similar rifles fired by two people with no overlapping shots — not so likely though. Usualy when two people are firing at anything, the shots overlap or sound close together, and it is usually obvious there are two shooters.
These last couple of days, there are fresh bear prints all over the beach and we have seen a very large bear several times. With the recent extended fishing, the nets are left on the beach with fish in them and the bears have a field day. It seems like the same bear that the squatters wounded last year because it has a smell to it, like sepsis, like it’s been nursing a seemingly painful gut shot for over a year. When it was shot last year, it ran right by us snorting and spraying blood, and then camped out behind our house for the rest of the summer, drank water from under the eaves, and most likely hibernated right next to us. It didn’t bother us and it made a lot of noise when it approached, grunting and snorting, so we just got out of its way. My heart really goes out the bears here.
Bianka started barking a lot for several minutes before we heard first the shots, so it seems from the prints and timeframe, the bear walked up the beach, through the woods, across Fox Island, and when it emerged from the woods on the other side, the shots started just a little bit later. Shots came from the north and sounded like they were definitely shooting in our general direction.
It was good to see that Bianka does seem to have a good bear instinct. Very thankful, for the Karelian Bear Dogs (yes, and the Schipperke too). They seem to see, smell and hear the bears before I do.
Between the Native Corporation and the squatters, several bears die or are terribly and dangerously wounded every summer. Not smart to shoot bears. Have found, after a lifetime of experience here that if we leave them alone and don’t bait them in any way, they leave us alone. This summer, however, they just don’t seem to be leaving folks alone.
Strange summer for bears in Alaska this year. The bears are restless…
Fish returns are not looking very good this year and everyone is still waiting for the salmon to return in large numbers. There are salmon here in the bay, but most of Alaska is doing terribly. My friend tells me that the halibut are not doing much better than the salmon, and they are discolored (milky white) with lots of fish lice and not in very good condition. The summers in Alaska are times of abundance, but this summer does not feel very abundant to the animals and the humans who subsist off of the summer bounty.
The migrating salmon schools were out at sea when the radiation hit and they are finding high concentrations of radiation in fish off of Japan. It makes sense that the fish who spend more time in the radioactive water are not surviving. If so, we can’t expect better fishing for about five years or so…
There are usually more bears around this time of year too. That bear was big but not so fat. This time of year they are usually up the bay or down by the river, and just starting to come up along the beaches here, but this one has been around since spring. Sometimes we see fifty or more brown bears a summer.
And it does feel cooler than usual. Two years ago we had that wet summer but it was not so cold. I don’t ever remember it being this cold.
Lately, I have been thinking that a bunch of trigger happy yahoos is kind of more dangerous than bears. The other day it sure sounded like they were actually shooting at me and the dogs. Couldn’t be sure, but when a bullet whizzed by kind of close, we cut up into the brush to chance it with the bears.
Whenever the squatters are near, if there is a woman, there is always a man with a gun between me and the woman. Feels wierd to be feared. It also seems like a spectacle. “Here we are… this is our strange social system of co-dependence, fear, greed, covetousness, hatred and destruction…. Just stand back. We know we’re on your land and not supposed to be here. But we are making money and that is all that matters.” I am at least very thankful that I don’t need a man with a gun to feel safe from people and animals and don’t value money over life.
I grew up here when there used to be a lot more bears. Every year one of the deckhands wanted to shoot a bear and inevitably got his chance. Usually they see a bear coming toward them and just start shooting like idiots… Sometimes they would wound the bear and then we had bigger problems. And yes, sometimes the deckhands did shoot at people too. I decided a long time ago to forego killing and bloodshed for my own survival. Inner peace works a lot better if we don’t make war with the world and ourselves.
Also, we are responsible for the torts of our employees, so it is good to have some basic rules for deckhands, like, “carry some bear spray or a flare,” and, “leave the animals alone,” and this also means, “PLEASE don’t shoot at people or animals.” THANK YOU.
It’s the fear-mind that creates the ego in the first place. We perpetuate fear and ego by feeding that idiocy with more feats of the “great white hunter” – so utterly inane and asinine. Summers when I was growing up were spent surrounded mostly by folks with many attachments, feeding their fear, hating, and trying to make money by taking and taking in a backwater place, where they seem to feel they can get away with harming anything and anyone. They kind of can. Thankfully, there were also some folks who flew in the face of the convention and offered some good advice and examples of how to treat humans and animals. It all really taught me a lot though. I recognize a lot of attachments coming a mile away. People who do things because they think they can get away with it are more and more common these days. They should know that no one gets away with anything, and very few make it out of this world alive….
If you don’t like environmental devastation, the oil industry, war, and greedy yahoos, what kind of Alaskan are you? Oh, one of those who were born here, have lived here for most of your life and watched the State change from a place where peoples’ rights and the environment were respected to a place where people harm one another in record numbers and everyone is out for a buck, where Lower 48’ers are more prevalent than old-timers and most people w0rk for big oil and military and vote for more big oil and military. If it has enough money, any irresponsible, backwards industry can certainly buy a lot of mindshare, donate a couple of computers, and get lots of free lipservice from a bunch of mindless idiots who, “know what side their bread is buttered on,” and a greedy, immoral, industrial machine easily can run an entire country or state these days. Alaska is just another victim of, “third world capitalism,” and, “brain drain,” where those who leave the State to obtain degrees, like myself, rarely return to live, and the void is filled with industry workers, and the radio pundits and callers repeatedly say things like I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago, “I don’t trust smart people.” Where the cost of living is high and the standard of living is low and criminals rule the streets.
In Anchorage I worked for an Attorney for a little while, who said he assumed I already knew what he was going to say and had the response ready in my mind. He seemed to think that because I was smart, I was somehow analytically psychic, or had some supernatural power. Maybe it comes across that way, and maybe some actually think that much, and plan that much, but personally, being smart requires much less thinking than that. Being smart is about listening more than it is about planning what you are going to say… I prefer the fast draw, shoot from the hip kind of thing. Seems more accurate, efficient shots are made when not so much thinking is involved. What I call being smart is probably what most people call being stupid or idiotic. I take some risks, trust in love, and lose out a lot, but it’s worked okay so far. Losing is really winning if we actually learn something.
Alaska has become one of those places where two Stanford Degrees gets you more distrust and fear more than it gets any respect or a job. Smart people should stick together. Maybe we just haven’t been shot at enough. Or maybe shot at one too many times… But I grew myself a pair of steel balls a long time ago so I could live where I choose and have the lifestyle I choose here on land my grandfather homesteaded and that I purchased almost fifteen years ago. Sorry if it’s inconvenient for those who don’t pay any taxes or a mortgage and make lots of money off of fishing and mining the beach and being downright unpleasant to be around while intruding on the rights of others with blatant disregard for law and order and peace. I’m cleaning up this town with some peace and love, and some MINDFULNESS, and that’s final. I don’t mind doing it alone either. I have lots of flowers to put into the barrels of lots of rifles.