Tag Archives: American Black Bear

Adirondack Bear Tales Gets First 5 Star Review

“An Unbearably Good Book!”

A reader who did not leave a name just gave Adirondack Bear Tales its first review … Five Stars. So, thank you whoever you are. I am glad the stories were enjoyable!

Here is the text of the review:


DC Gilbert has done a masterful job of recreating the Adirondack camping experience of his childhood. Each of these stories involves a personal (or family) encounter with the local Black bears. Not to give any plots away, no bear or human was seriously maimed or killed by any of these stories. If you like a good North Woods story, with a personal touch, then this short entertaining volume is for you.

Bringing back fond memories!

bear tales

I was talking to a friend at the dog park the other night and Joe told me that he and his wife both greatly enjoyed the bear tales.

In previous years, they did a lot of camping on Sacandaga Lake, also in the Adirondack Park. Therefore, they really enjoyed the details in the tales about the camping experience. Joe said his wife called her sister on the phone and she read some bits of the stories to her. They had a great time laughing over the fact they shared a lot of similar experiences while camping themselves. Joe said that his wife laughed several times while on the phone, exclaiming “that’s exactly what we used to do!” Needless to say, we had a great conversation about camping and bears while the dogs romped about.

Moreover, it really meant a lot to me to hear how much they enjoyed reading Adirondack Bear Tales.

I think you will enjoy these Adirondack Bear Tales as well!

You can download a Kindle version or order a paperback from Amazon.com. I would love to hear from some other readers about what you think about the stories in my book, Adirondack Bear Tales. Most importantly, it costs less than a large cup of coffee at Starbucks!

In addition, you can also read other great blog posts by clicking here!

How to Survive a Black Bear Attack!

What do you do when you encounter a black bear in the wild?

black bear

First, it is important to know your bears! Black Bears are different from Grizzly Bears, which are different from Kodiak Bears, which are different from Polar Bears. These differences are more than color and size. Different bears have different mannerisms and habits.

In this post we will focus on the black bear, which is the most common bear in North America.

Meet the Black Bear 

Color: Black bears can be found in a variety of colors ranging from black to light brown, or even blond.

Body Shape: Bears all have a similar build. They do vary a great deal in size, and black bears don’t have the large shoulder hump that grizzly bears have.

Weight: Black bears are smaller than grizzly bears. Though they can occasionally get bigger, the average male black bear can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds, with females typically being somewhat smaller.

Claws: Yes! They certainly have claws and, while not as large as those of the grizzly bear or polar bear, you still don’t want them swiping at you with them.

Location: Black bears are the most commonly found bear in North America. They range thought all the provinces of Canada and 41 of the 50 American states. Black bears are very common in the Adirondack Park.

How to Survive a Black Bear attack!

American black bears are know to occasionally attack humans. But given the choice, they would rather flee than fight. They’re smaller, faster and better climbers than grizzlies. 

1. Be bear aware!

This means leaving your damn earbuds in the car! Traipsing through the woods with Welcome to the Jungle blasting your eardrums is not a great idea, especially in bear country. Bears are quiet, and almost impossible to hear coming as it is. Stay tuned to the environment, not your music. Carry bear spray in areas where black bears are active. Keep food and trash packed away. And make some noise while walking through the woods. It is not a good idea to surprise a mother bear with her cubs.

Carry a good bear repellent spray!

Bear Spray can certainly help, but it’s not as critical as with grizzlies. Black bears are less aggressive and will move off if they hear you coming. However, a mother bear will still protect her cubs if she thinks they are threatened. This is deeply ingrained in her, because male bear will often kill cubs. Try to spray when the bear is within 40 to 50 feet of you, creating a barrier of bear spray between you and the approaching bear.

Stand your ground!

Since black bears are less aggressive than grizzlies, you should try to present yourself as something large and loud and something to be feared; they’ll usually leave you alone. Shout, wave your arms, and create a big commotion. Do anything you can to make yourself look bigger. Most importantly, just like with grizzlies, never run from a black bear. First, they can outrun you. Second, they often will charge in an attempt to bluff, and the best strategy is to stand your ground with your bear spray ready to fire if the bear gets too close.

Keep your feet on the ground!

Never, ever climb a tree to escape a black bear. They’re really excellent climbers, and they tend to chase anything they think is running away.  There’s a good chance the bear will simply trap you in the tree, and could even climb up after you.

Do NOT play dead with a black bear!

This has been known to work with grizzlies which are true predators, and unless starving, will only eat what they actually kill. Black bears, on the other hand, are scavengers. If you play dead and they are hungry, they may decide to eat you. 

Fight back!

Unless you’re physically not able to, it’s far better to defend yourself against a black bear than to simply fall down on the ground and play dead (See previous section). If you end up in “close quarter combat” with the bear, use any available object as a weapon to defend yourself. If nothing is handy, punch or kick at the bear’s nose, eyes, and ears. Attack the sensitive areas that are more likely to get an immediate reaction. Do whatever is needed to scare it away. Work to create distance between you and the bear, but do not run away. The bear will simply chase you. You have to make the bear decide to run away.

New Release

I am soon releasing a a collection of short stores called Adirondack Bear Tales on Kindle and in paperback. The book is based on my series of blog post on Adirondack Bear Tales. You can read one of these posts here. I hope you will check my new book out when it becomes available.

If you enjoyed this post and feel like you want to buy me a cup of coffee, just click the link below. Thanks!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Adirondack Bear Tale #6: Aunt Betty Swats a Bear

Toasting Marshmallows at Uncle Wagner’s Camp!

Aunt Betty swats a black bearOur camp sat near the end of Burketown Road near the Miller’s old camp and Jack Camp’s old place. Jack Camp, a permanent resident, was the local coroner and constable, and kept an eye on things for those of us who owned summer camps in the area.

Across the road was a camp that  belonged to my Great Uncle Wagner and Aunt Betty. Uncle Wagner was my Grandfather Klippel’s older brother. My Nanny and Grandpa had a camp back down the road, closer to Burke’s Marina. Uncle Wagner’s camp has changed ownership since those days.

This particular evening there were several younger family members sitting around the stone-encircled campfire in front of Uncle Wagner’s camp. There was myself, my younger brother, three cousins who were all boys, and two other cousins who were both girls. We probably ranged in ages from 8 to 15. And, we were having a grand time toasting marshmallows on sticks we had cut earlier from a nearby Beech tree.

It was funny how some of us liked to see the marshmallows blaze, preferring them charred on the outside and melted on the inside. I preferred mine golden brown on the outside and warm in the middle. Therefore, I would concentrate a bit harder than some on the task at hand, selecting just the right nest of red hot coals, and turning the marshmallow constantly to get a nice even golden-brown color. I guess that is why I was the last one to notice that a black bear had come out of the woods, no doubt attracted by the enticing smell of burning marshmallows. I guess Aunt Betty must have heard the ruckus as we all started yelling and scattered to give the bear plenty of room.

Aunt Betty to the Rescue!

Aunt Betty was a short, stocky woman and not afraid of much that I can remember. Uncle Wagner, Aunt Betty, Grandpa and Nanny Klippel were sitting at the kitchen table in the camp playing Rummy 500. This was a favorite Adirondack evening pastime in our families. In addition, we also regularly enjoyed playing Pitch, Cribbage, and Pinochle. Family card games were a regular event. Our parents were across the road in our camp spending a quiet evening reading. I guess they probably needed a break from my brother and me. We could sometimes be a handful!

Aunt Betty exploded through the screen door of their camp armed with a straw broom. The black bear being young, maybe a little older than a yearling, did not know what he had unwittingly stumbled into. He just wanted marshmallows, but what he found was more like a stirred-up hornet’s nest. Wielded by Aunt Betty, the sweeping end of that broom attacked that poor bear from all angles at once and Betty let loose with a barrage of “Shoos, Scrams, and Git’s.” The bear quickly decided the marshmallows were definitely not worth the trouble, and took off just as fast as he could back into the woods letting loose with bawling sounds that were a cross between a bellow and a whine.

All Well that Ends Well!

All us kids were safe and sound. But, that incident ended any marshmallow toasting for the night as we were herded into their camp. Our parents, alarmed at the sudden change in the sounds coming from across the road, had appeared just as the bawling bear disappeared into the dark woods and quickly escorted us back across the road. We were soon settled in for the night up in the loft. I don’t think that bear ventured into our region of the Adirondack Park ever again.

 

 

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #3: A Trip to the Dump!

The Dump at Raquette Lake. A Friday Night Hot Spot!

dumpIt’s Friday evening in the Adirondacks. So, what do you do? What kind of entertainment venues were available to vacationers in the north woods? One of our family favorites was to go to the dump! Yep! I am serious. We would go to the dump to watch the bears. It was quite popular among those in the know. The bears would come out in the early evenings to feed on all the delightful morsels we humans would throw away.

The Raquette Lake Dump was located a mile or so down an old dirt road that headed out of Raquette Lake Village and into the north woods wilderness. This road was initially an old rail bed for the private railroad line owned by the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts built an Adirondack great camp, Camp Sagamore, near Raquette Lake. They and their guests would take a private train from Utica, New York up to Raquette Lake. There they would board a boat and steam across South Bay to head up the South Inlet. A mile or so up South Inlet, at the falls, where it became impassable, they would board a stagecoach and travel along a road that ran past the Vanderbilt’s power-house and a small dam, to the smaller private lake South Inlet flowed from. This was their destination. They would begin to enjoy their stay at Camp Sagamore.

But, I digress. This is supposed to be a bear tale.

This particular Friday evening my brother and I were headed to the dump with our grandparents. They had an AMC Hornet, and we sat in the back. We turned down the old dirt road that lead to the dump. Being an old railway bed, it was a pretty straight shot. As we approached the dump, my brother and I were excited to see that there were already several black bears, an assortment of ages and sizes, out prowling around among the garbage bags looking for tasty tidbits.

My Grandfather pulled up pretty close because he had a bag of trash to add to the pile. Grandpa told us all to stay in the car. He would throw the garbage out and then we would back up a bit to sit and watch the bears. Grandpa got out and retrieved the bag from the trunk and started toward the piled bags of garbage. He wanted to get close enough to throw the bag onto the pile.

One mid-sized bear spotted Grandpa making his way toward the trash heap and saw that he was carrying a new bag of possible snacks. Naturally, the bear made his way toward Grandpa. Now, our Grandfather was not a pushover. He was a big man, strong and stubborn. That bear was not getting the garbage until Grandpa threw it on the pile. The bear, however, had other ideas, and that garbage bag quickly became a major source of contention.

Grandpa saw the bear coming, so he yelled at it in an attempt to “bluff” the bear into backing off. However, the bear was just as stubborn as Grandpa, so just he kept coming. Soon the bear was between our Grandfather and the trash heap. Grandpa took another step toward the bear and clutching the garbage bag tightly, yelled again. The bear, unimpressed, took a step toward our Grandfather. Then the bear took yet another step. Our grandfather, realizing that the bear was not intimidated in the least, began backing up toward the car. The bear followed. This scared our Grandmother who reached up and locked both car doors.

Grandpa backed up all the way to the car with the bear following him every step of the way. Keeping his eyes on the bear, he made his way to the driver-side door and reached down to open it. It was locked!

“Boots, unlock the door,” he yelled. He called her “Boots” because of the fancy boots she was wearing when they first met. We called her, Nanny, of course.

“Erwin, Get rid of the garbage. Let the bear have it,” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa was now circling the car with the bear following him. It was very exciting for my brother and I sitting in the back seat.

“Boots, unlock the door!” he yelled again.

“Get rid of the garbage, Erwin” Nanny yelled back. Grandpa had, by now, circled the car several times with the bear in dogged pursuit. Finally realizing that something had to give, as he came around again to the front of the Hornet, Grandpa hurled the bag of garbage as hard as he could toward the heap of garbage bags about thirty yards away. Nanny reached over and unlocked the driver-side door and Grandpa, jerking the door open, slid into the seat and slammed the door closed. The bear, however, had already headed off in the direction Grandpa had hurled the bag and was now sniffing speculatively at it.

There was an uncomfortable moment of silence in the car. Finally, Grandpa spoke.

“For the love of Pete, Boots, why wouldn’t you unlock the door.

“Erwin, I was not letting you in here with the garbage. What if the bear tried to get in here too!”

“Oh, for heaven sakes!” Grandpa retorted. Needless to say, the bear watching was cut short, and it was a hushed ride back to their camp at Burke Town.

Check out my other Bear Tales!

In addition, if you like  these Adirondack Bear Tale short stories, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot! Available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.