that sounds like the biggest raccoon ever.

So I was sitting at my desk just fifteen minutes ago, scribbling a few paragraphs of the current work in progress, when I heard a rather loud scraping and shuffling sound on the outside wall of the kitchen.

Now, I’m used to hearing scampering rodents and raccoons all over the place, including the roof at night, but this was a bit too noisy and forceful to be of that size class.  So I got up, and walked the six feet to the dark kitchen window (a four-panel sort of bay window that takes up six feet of the kitchen sidewall), and hit the switch for the outside floodlights.  Outside the window, just two feet away, a not-small black bear was pawing at the bird feeder we have hanging above the kitchen window. 

(How do I know the bear was not-small?  The feeder is about seven feet up, and I can’t remove it from its hook without the use of a ladder, but he was on it with his paw.  Also, his head was pretty much right in front of me, so I got a good idea of his size.)

I knocked on the glass and yelled, “Hey! You!”…and he just sort of panted, and pawed at the feeder some more.

So I went upstairs to grab the Enfield, just in case he wasn’t amenable to polite requests, but by the time I came back downstairs, the lights and the hairless ape yelling at him from behind the glass had finally spooked him, and he was gone.  (I wouldn’t have capped Yogi’s butt without clear and present danger, but I figured a shot in the air would have made his ears ring enough to avoid the area for a while.)

I went outside to have a look around, but Mr. Bear was gone, having aborted his raid on our bird feeders.  Tomorrow, I’ll check to see if he plucked apart the composter again—the one he used as a fast food bin a week or two ago, and which I just put back together on Sunday.

Yeah, that’s life in the country, I guess.  I’m sure it’s not exactly the Wild Outdoors to some of you folks who live in Montana or Upper Manitoba, but I’m a recovering city boy, and having a few hundred pounds of black bear dropping by for an evening snack is pretty outdoorsy to me.

Update, one hour later: He came back to check out the bird feeder on the front lawn, and scampered off when I cranked open the kitchen window.  Tomorrow, the bear bird feeders are coming down until early winter, so he won’t have an incentive to keep coming back.  (For those who are about to suggest zapping him and making a rug out of his hide: I don’t like the idea of killing what don’t strictly need killing, and shooting a bear out of season is a Class B misdemeanor in NH…unless the bear is causing “substantial property damage”.  A pair of bird feeders doesn’t exactly meet that definition.)

Update, the next morning:  Mr. Bear left some paw prints on the kitchen window when he steadied himself while fishing the seeds out of the bird feeder.  I took a picture, with my hand for scale.  You can sort of see the pointy claw marks at the top of the print.  I can cover the rest of it with my hand, but only barely, and only if I spread my fingers out as far as I can.  Probably not a huge black bear, but he looked big enough from two feet away.

Bear Visit 004

46 thoughts on “that sounds like the biggest raccoon ever.

  1. Mongo says:

    Sounds to me like you handle it just right. Remove the incentive for Mrs. Bear to hang around the homestead. They are kewl to watch, but not near your kids. I believe that if a bear was visiting here on a regular basis, I’d have the 870 loaded with slugs and on hand… just in case.

  2. Tam says:

    That’s a pretty dang good-sized black bear.

    Is there a season in NH?

  3. Anne Bonney says:

    It’s his land too. If peaceful coexistence can be worked out, all the better. Nearby where I live, a woman beat a (sleeping) fawn to death with a shovel in her backyard, which abuts a state park. I’m a little more nervous of bears than deer.

    • Tam says:

      If peaceful coexistence can be worked out, all the better.

      What’s Marko supposed to do? Get the bear to sign a pledge to not bother his toddlers or dogs?

    • Kristopher says:

      No … the land belongs to Marko. And in a sane society, that bear would be his property as well, the instant it stepped on the property.

      That granny who took the shovel to the fawn should have asked a relative to dress it out … she threw away at least 30 pounds of good meat.

      Marko: that bear is right up there with a rattlesnake in the kid’s sandbox … it doesn’t mean harm, but you and yours could still get hurt. A nuisance bear complaint to your fish and game department might also be in order, in case you do need to shoot.

      Maybe a load of birdshot in the ass for Mr Bear if you are unwilling to kill him.

      And fire warning shots into the ground please … you don’t know where a shot in the air is going to land.

      • Marko says:

        But of course. Always be sure of your target, and what’s behind, and all that. Air makes a poor backstop.

        I may get a bear tag on September 1, just in case.

  4. Jason says:

    Only thing I hate to point out is that he now sees your house as a source of food, especially the composter. If you remove all of that and he goes away, great, but I’d still consider contacting local F&W authorities.

  5. Caleb says:

    Or just wait until he comes back on September 1st and then make some bear sausage. It’s not that far away.

  6. Al T. says:

    Try “salting” your bird seed and garbage with ground red pepper. Don’t get any on you and it will wash away with rain. Works for me. (Sept 1 opener, huh? )

  7. Jay G. says:

    Might also want to consider an M29 for ’round the yard work carry, just to be on the safe side.

    Unless, of course, you want a shotgun slung over your shoulder. That’d be good, too…

    (I’ve got a Win 1300 that’s just sitting in the safe collecting dust ever since I bought the Mossberg, BTW…)

    • Marko says:

      You know, I *could* use a good shotgun around the castle, come to think of it…

      • John Hardin says:

        Problem is, cylinder bore doesn’t work well with slugs (sabot at least) and rifled doesn’t work well with shot.

        So get two.

      • Kristopher says:

        John … one shotgun, two barrels.

        Swapping a barrel on a modern pump or semi is pretty simple stuff.

      • Regolith says:

        Rifled slugs shot out of a smooth bore are good within a hundred yards. Unless you have some good 150 or 200 yard shooting lanes, it’s probably not necessary in dense woods.

        You also get the bonus of a 1 oz, .73 caliber slugs, as opposed to the 350 grain .50 caliber slugs most sabots use.

      • Regolith says:

        Ah…that should be “Unless you have some good 150 or 200 yard shooting lanes, sabots are probably not necessary in dense woods.

  8. The Other Jay says:

    Can’t help with the composter, but hanging the feeders just out of reach will solve that problem. Black bears are smart enough to not bother when they realize they can’t reach something.

    It can be a pain, but – since you know you have a neighbor – keeping your trashcans and any other “smell-ables” away from the house is a solid idea.

  9. robnrun says:

    Bears are highly opportunistic. Our local bear (down in NW Connecticut) has a practice of making the rounds of his territory. The only way to avoid his appropriation of the bird feeders is to take them down at night. Since he isn’t hibernating until after the fall migration season, not putting the feeder out until later defeats the purpose of having it. (at least for the avid twitcher) He usually doesn’t come during the day, although there was one memorable occasion….
    What does not work is hanging the bird feeder higher up, first of all it has to be over eight feet up (inconvenient that), secondly if on a tall pole the bear will simply bend said metal pole and remove the feeder. Unless one has a second story window from which to hang the feeder.

  10. Rick in NY says:

    Ya got good advise Marko. Nothing I can add, and FWIW, from your size description I’d say you’ve got a 350-400 pound animal roaming around. Not a record, but definitely big enough that I wouldn’t want to wrestle it.

    Keep the kids under close obsevation when outside, but you already knew that….

  11. Kristopher says:

    Oh, and for Intarweb’s traditions sake:

    BEAR THREAD!

  12. so fuzzy wussy has his/her claw prints all over your window…and the dachsies’ response was?

    jtc

  13. that would be fuzzy wuzzy…while it may well be a wussy bear, i wouldn’t want to try to confirm it.

  14. Stingray says:

    If it was just a drive-by bearing I’d agree with live and let live. Having had large predators wandering through my own yard on a semi-regular basis in the past (until the fence went up and the dogs spread enough “We are large and alert” scent around to deter ’em) having something with a bit more punch than a snubbie wheelgun close to hand seems directly in line with common sense.

    Alert Fish & Game, keep your eyes peeled until Sept. 1, try some of the feed-removal tricks above, and stand by for a comfy new rug in front of those fireplaces. I agree with Kristopher. The rattler in the sandbox isn’t there looking for trouble, doesn’t mean trouble didn’t come along with it. Here’s hoping everything works out without incident.

  15. perlhaqr says:

    Yep. My uncle up in Montana has a bearskin rug from a bear that wouldn’t stop eating his chickens. He tried to drive her away at first, but she just couldn’t resist those little egg-layers.

    • Marko says:

      Who can, really? I mean, it’s chicken. She was probably like, “These things taste fantastic!

  16. LabRat says:

    Remove all food sources and Br’er Bear will *probably* move on. Black bears don’t look for trouble as much as people think, especially in areas where there IS a hunting season and each bear has had some experience with being stalked by a human.

    Keeping loaded for bear *just in case* is still a good idea on the rattler principle. I think if you make yourself not a viable food source (and I wouldn’t want to get in an engineering contest with a bear over my feeders, rather just remove them), s/he will probably go away and the September permit will probably not be necessary… but always plan for the less probable.

  17. T.Stahl says:

    A freakingly huge bear!!!

    And here in Germany people get panic because of wild boars in their garden.

    Enfield, softpoints, bajo No.9, some assembly required. Ah, forgot, yours doesn’t have the lugs.

    • Marko says:

      If you think I’m going to get close enough to a 300-pound black bear to stab him with a bayonet, you’re smoking some weapons-grade crack, my friend.😉

      • T.Stahl says:

        Well, rumors say the bayonet was first used around the French city Bayonne (qv bacon) as a close-quarters defence when hunting boars with muzzle-loaders…

        Ok, I guess 10rds of 180gr SPs would do the trick on a bear or boar. It’s just that I like being on the safe side.😉

  18. megscole64 says:

    This thread and comments has me rolling in laughter.

    I think those paws look mighty big enough to scare me half to death. Take care!

  19. Al T. says:

    Marko, you may not want to get that close, but have you considered that the bear gets a vote too? 🙂 I’d mount the pig sticker..

    All seriousness, if you have to shoot, break bones. Either a shoulder going in or a shoulder going out. Bears are notorious for taking head shots (frontal) with no immediate results (skull slope makes for skips) and the heart lungs are a bit forward of where a deer’s are. Bust a shoulder, don’t admire the shot, just keep shooting. The kids would love a nice rug for nap time. 😀

  20. Wild Deuce says:

    Marko, I’ve got a Ruger Super Redhawk (7.5″) with some Hornady 240 grain HP/XTP or Remington 275 grain Core-Lokt rounds and a decent holster if you are interested.

    I was just reading a forum post earlier about an elderly woman that wouldn’t stop feeding local bears and ended up feeding a really big bear one last time. One of the commenters said that a bear never forgets every place it has ever had a decent meal and will often revisit. I would love to know if that is true.

  21. Ritchie says:

    Perhaps something with a bit of electricity. Do they still have fence chargers in the farm stores?

    • Kristopher says:

      Zap the bear with a giant Tesla Coil?

      Kewl. Edison’s medicine!

    • Nylarthotep says:

      They do sell cattle fence chargers in NH if you can find the right store. Most places don’t want to touch them for liability issues.

      We use them to keep the raccoons out of the corn. Works really well. I’m betting the bear would be similarly dissuaded as that damn thing hurts like hell when it bites.

  22. Gerry N. says:

    Ann Bonney…….
    It is somewhat difficult to arrange coexistence with a large predator which regards you and your CHILDREN as menu items. Perhaps you’ve seen one too many episodes of “Gentle Ben”?

    I subscribe to the “Rattlesnake in the sandbox” philosophy, I’d shoot the bear if he shows up again. I’d do it with tears in my eyes, but I’d do it. My kids are far more important than any bear.

    Gerry N.

  23. Bob W says:

    I too would suggest a shotgun & slugs as well, but I would suggest you keep it handy. What I mean is if you have to go upstairs to get it, its too far away in an emergency.
    BTW- Connecticut DEP has some relevant info on discouraging bears.
    (link)
    http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325968&depNav_GID=1655

  24. MarkHB says:

    We’re back to “Load for bear to protect your kids” again. If you have to shoot it, shoot it hard enough that you can toss one of your Daschies through the hole. I like your kids, y’see.😉

    I admire and respect that you don’t want to zap it just to zap a critter and have a rug. That’s +5 for your white hat. Just make sure you’re got a bigger boat, in case you need it.

  25. so…could that be the little bugger popping its head up on your header? a late-night apparition born of a latent nightmare, a bad sausage, or one too many drecksacks, maybe? (as if one wasn’t too many of such an heretical concoction)…

    you know how it is with fish stories and bear stories…”man, that sombitch was f’n huge!”

    jtc

  26. Glamdring says:

    Marko what loads do you have in the SMLE? Maybe you need to get your K frame a Big Brother (N Frame) for house gun.

  27. Marko Kloos says:

    160-some-grain soft point hunting loads. They’ll do their part, as long as I do mine.

  28. Nylarthotep says:

    Have you notified Fish&Game of your rather large visitor? If he’s leaving finger prints on your glass he’s looking for more opportunities than the compost bin of bird feeder are providing. Not to mention he’s reaching the season for serious preparation for the winter, so he could become worse. (Though I doubt that he will unless there is something wrong with him. Bears usually don’t stay put when browsing for winter.)

    Telling the Fish&Game dept of the issue will at least give you some cover if brer bear forces you to use a more aggressive reaction.

    I’d also consider something a bit more aggressive than the SMLE. It is good for longer distances, but a shotgun with buck&ball are better for putting a bear down at the backyard ranges.

    If you have to shoot him, make sure you kill him. Fish&Game get majorly pissed if you injure the bastard and they have to clean up. Bears are definitely dangerous game when injured.

  29. BlueNight says:

    Now that I no longer dream about dinosaurs, snakes, spiders, and bomber airplanes, only one beast is fearful enough to haunt my dreams. Ambling through a school or church, forcing us to run and hide, the bear is the indomitable foe I never want to face. In my dreams I can kung-fu punch an attacking dog into the stratosphere, but I know that if I am within a few feet of a bear, it’s “Game over, man, game over!”

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