Tag: Black Bears

Adirondack Bear Tale #10: The Bear Trap

Family Traditions

Family reunions and joint camping trips to Golden Beach Campground on Raquette Lake were a big tradition for our entire family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins getting together in adjoining campsites for a week or  two. These are some of my fondest memories growing up. One such particular camping trip also involved a couple of guys from New York City, and setting a trap for a mischievous black bear.

My grandfather, Irwin Klippel and his brother, Wagner Klippel, had two campsites that were not quite adjoining. A couple of younger men from New York City occupied the spot separating their two camps sites. The two men had driven up to spend a week in the Adirondack Park. Being very friendly, and since they were camping between two contingents of our family, they just naturally kind of joined in. They’d brought all the best camping equipment money could buy, as well as a great selection of food including steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and bacon. They were set for the week. It was late in the day, so we all sat around a campfire and visited a bit. When the fired died out, everyone headed off to get some sleep.

The mischievous bear …

trap

That next morning the two city men arose to discover that during the night, a bear had raided their cooler. They stored the cooler under one end of the park-provided picnic table. The cooler’s mangled cover was now laying a few feet from the cooler, which was quite empty. The bear ate everything. Everything, that is, except the hot dogs, which now lay discarded near the cooler’s cover. It must have been a very hungry (and stealthy) bear. Amazingly, nobody had heard a sound! We had a lot of fun joking about the fact that the bear would not eat the hot dogs.

After the initial excitement wore off, the two young men took off Indian Lake to restock their supplies at the Grand Union. They also decided that it would be better to put their new cooler in the trunk of their car when they went to bed at night.  While the two men were off getting groceries, we sat around talking about the bear. The focus of the discussion was what could be done to discourage this bear from conducting future raids on our campsites. By the time the men were back from the Grand Union, we had devised a plan. The two city guys thought our scheme was a pretty slick idea as well.

The spaghetti trap!

That night after supper, we gathered up all the dirty pots and pans from cooking the various family supper meals. We then stacked them up, one on top of the other, on the picnic table in the two younger men’s campsite. With several large family units, the supply of dirty cooking pots more than adequate and they made a quite an impressive, however slightly unstable, tower. My grandmother (we called her Nanny) had made spaghetti in a big metal pot (much like the turkey fryer pots of today). That big pot, with the left over spaghetti and grease from cooking the ground beef (used to make the spaghetti) went on the very top.

Then, my Uncle Wagner tied a length of twine to the handle on the bottom pot and strung the cord all the way over to his car, where he planned to sit and wait. His idea was to turn on the car’s headlights after pulling the string at the opportune moment. All the kids gathered up flashlights and climbed into cars. We all planned to stay awake and see what happened when the bear came!

The trap is sprung …

All of a sudden, we heard a loud crashing, bashing sound. We had all fallen asleep, but the horrible noise woke us up quickly. Several flash lights snapped on and pointed toward the picnic table. Uncle Wagner flipped the headlights on in his car. There, right in the beam of the headlights, sat a big black bear with a very befuddled look on his face. There were pots and pans scattered all around him. Greasy left-over spaghetti covered his head and hung from his ears. The bear let out a bawling kind of  grunt and took off running into the trees. Our bear trap had worked!

My grandfather later told me that he had talked to a park ranger at the campground sometime after that, who had told him that they did not see that particular bear in the campground for at least six months after we sprang our trap.

If you liked this Bear Tale, check out this story, and check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot on Amazon.com.

Adirondack Bear Tale #9: A Trip to the Laundromat!

Laundry time is always such a thrill in the Adirondacks. For us, it meant a trip to Raquette Lake Village and the laundromat at the Raquette Lake General Store. As kids we would hang out in the store or on the village dock, or play in the old ice storage sheds (the sheds are long gone now) until Mom and Dad were finished with the laundry. It was always an adventure. There are more “modern” laundromats in Old Forge or Eagle Bay, but there was just something nostalgic about the old Raquette Lake Laundromat. We had been using it for generations. In fact, we had been using it before it had moved to its current location at the General Store. I remember it being located for years over near the now since long gone ice storage sheds.
laundromat
This particular laundry adventure involved my sister-in-law, Brenda, who gone in to the village to do the weeks laundry. Brenda had finished loading the clothes, detergent, and the required number of quarters into the washing machines, and the machine started doing their thing. She decided she’d kill some time looking around in the store for a bit. There were always interesting things to look at. And, the store has a real-honest-to-goodness butcher providing fantastic cuts of meat, home-made sausages, etc. The store also carried the best baked good in the region, delivered fresh daily from Mary’s Bakery in Inlet, about ten minutes away. In the laundromat there was one doorway that led directly into the general store as well as the exterior door that led out to the sandy parking lot.  Brenda was just about to head into the general store, when she heard an awful banging sound coming from outside the laundromat. She went to the exterior door to investigate.
laundromat
It did not take long to determine what was causing the banging noises. Near the laundromat sat the store’s dumpster, and standing on top of the dumpster was a medium-sized black bear. The bear had a hold of the dumpster lid on which he was standing, and was rearing back, trying to open the lid. Of course, since he was also standing on the lid, it would only lift so far before his weight slammed it back down with a loud bang! Brenda quickly went into the general store and over to the counter. “There’s a bear out there on your dumpster, trying to get it open,” Brenda exclaimed. “Oh, that’s just Charlie! He won’t hurt anything. Charlie makes regular appearances to our dumpster. We just wait until he’s done before we put try to put anything in it.” Brenda considered this new information carefully for a bit before cautiously returning to check on the laundry. Charlie was still poking around the dumpster but seemed to have little interest in the goings-on in the laundromat. Brenda quickly transferred the clean clothes from the washing machines to some dryers, and went back into the store area. When she later returned some time later to check on the dry clothes, Charlie had apparently moved along. That is what I always loved about Raquette Lake! Even the weekly trip to the laundromat can turn into an interesting adventure. Check out Serpents Underfoot at Amazon.com or here!

Adirondack Bear Tale #8: Campfire BBQ Chicken

Grandma Gilbert’s Campfire BBQ Chicken

Campfire BBQ Chicken

It was a nice cool Adirondack evening.  Therefore, Grandma Gilbert decided to make campfire BBQ chicken using the outside fireplace behind the camp. This way they could be outside to enjoy the cool evening air. There would also be less mess to clean up in the kitchen after dinner.

Grandpa started a wood fire in the cinder block fireplace and kept feeding it seasoned beech wood. Soon, there was a nice bed of red-hot coals. Grandma set the old cast iron skillet containing a little oil, some seasonings, and the chicken down on the steel grate Grandpa had set across the cinder blocks of the fireplace. In just a few minutes, the chicken was sizzling merrily away. It soon began to smell really good. While Grandma watched the chicken, Grandpa went into the camp to prepare the rest of dinner.

In the woods behind the camp,  a passing black bear lifted his nose into the air. His keen sense of smell had discovered the tantalizing aroma of cooking chicken, BBQ sauce, and wood smoke. As a result of his discovery, the bear changed his direction of travel, and started to follow the wonderful smell that drifted along on the evening breeze. Consequently, he soon found himself coming out of the woods … right behind Grandma Gilbert, who was busily tending to the chicken.

Grandpa Gilbert stepped out of the camp to check on how Grandma was doing with the chicken. He had been in the kitchen preparing corn-on-the-cob and a tossed salad to compliment the BBQ chicken.

“How’s the chicken coming, Marjorie?” he asked.

“Just fine Henry,” Grandma answered.

As Grandpa turned to go back into the camp, he noticed a movement out of the corner of his eye. Turning to see what it was, he saw the bear coming out of the woods and making its way toward the fireplace and Grandma.

“Marjorie!” he called. “There is a black bear coming up behind you, Come in the camp. Hurry!”

Grandma turned and saw the bear, and quickly made her way toward the porch. Then she stopped, and looked back.

“Come on, Marjorie. What are you doing?” Grandpa called. Grandma was headed back toward the fireplace and the chicken. “Never mind the chicken. Get in the camp!”

“Not without my chicken,” she replied. Still wearing the oven mitt on her hand, she ran back to the fireplace, arriving just seconds before the bear. Grabbing the skillet by the handle, she let out a with a loud, “Shoo!”  Then turning quickly, Grandma made a bee-line for the porch. In a second, she was up on the porch and in the camp. Grandpa promptly shut the door.

As a result, the BBQ chicken was safe. The bear, however, was a bit miffed and sniffed around on the porch for several minutes. Finally, the bear figured out that the great smelling campfire BBQ chicken was now beyond his reach. The bear reluctantly made his way back into the woods, continuing his search for his supper.

The campfire BBQ chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and tossed salad made a wonderful dinner.  In addition, the rest of the family got to enjoy hearing the tale of how Grandma rescued the chicken from the hungry black bear many times over the years.

Check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, on Amazon.com.

Adirondack Bear Tale #7: The Demise of Old Three-toes!

The Demise of Old Three-toes.

Old three-toes was a very grouch bear.Three-toes was a grouchy, old bear. He was also big for a black bear. Folks around Burketown who occasionally spotted him estimated he might weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. This is fairly large for an Adirondack black bear. You knew when old three-toes was poking around from his distinctive tracks. His left fore-paw was missing the two outer toes, leading of course, to his nickname. Nobody really knew how he’d lost those two front toes. Speculation was abundant. Maybe he’d lost them in a fight with another bear, or perhaps a near miss with some kind of bear trap. Whatever the cause, it almost certainly contributed to his sour disposition.

A couple of camps down Burketown Road from my grandparent’s camp and in the direction of Burke’s Marina, lived a friend of the family. A local contractor and handyman, he’d built the camp belonging to my other grandparents on the lot next to ours near the end of the road. For the sake of this story, I will call him Mike.

As of late, old three-toes had become the frequent topic of discussion up and down the road.  Folks spotted him on the prowl regularly and he’d been getting in to some real mischief, causing damage to camps, screen windows, front porches, etc. So far nothing serious had occurred, but many felt it was simply a matter of time.

On this particular morning, Mike got up early to go fishing. And, living alone, began cooking himself breakfast. He’d opened the front door to his camp to allow the cool, crisp morning air to pass through the screen door. Unfortunately, this also allowed the smell of cooking bacon to waft its way out through the screen door, and be carried along on the same morning breeze. The tantalizing smell of cooking bacon proved to be irresistible to old three-toes who happened to be passing by. The bear turned, and followed the enticing aroma right up to Mike’s camp screen door.

Three-toes decided that the screen door was not going to keep him from getting to that delicious smelling bacon!  Mike heard the crashing sound of three-toes clawing right through the screen door. He turned in time to see the big bear coming down the short hallway to his kitchen area. Mike quickly retreated from the kitchen area and in the opposite direction. He made his way to his den where he kept a loaded 12-gauge shotgun on his rifle rack.

Mike grabbed the 12-gauge and headed back to the kitchen  where three-toes was making quite a mess of things. He yelled at the bear first, hoping to scare it off. He did not really want to shoot the bear. Unfortunately, three-toes was having none of it. This was now his bacon and, as far as that went, it was also now his kitchen. Mike simply had no choice. Taking careful aim with the shotgun, he fired.

While many in the Burketown area were saddened by the death of three-toes, a lot of people slept a bit more soundly at night. It is an unfortunate thing when black bears lose their fear of people. It never turns out well for the bear.

I hope this story touched you, and reminds you why it is so important to not feed the bears. While black bears can indeed be cute, they are still wild animals.

And, please take the time to check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot.

 

Adirondack Bear Tale #5: Black Bears and Birds

Uncle Ken, Black Bears, and Birds!

birdsWhat do black bears and birds have in common, you might ask?  Well, let me tell you. Besides the fact that they both love birdseed, they had my uncle in common.

Klippels tend to be stubborn. My grandfather was stubborn, my mother was stubborn, her sister was stubborn, and my uncle, Kenneth Klippel, was stubborn. Now, that’s a lot of stubbornness! Mostly, it was stubborn in a good way … the kind of stubbornness that allows one to stick to their guns and get things done.

Uncle Ken also enjoyed watching birds. Upon his retirement, he moved from Binghamton, NY to Raquette Lake where he settled into the camp he and my grandfather had built many years earlier. One of the first things he did was set up a bird feeder in the front yard. Nothing fancy. Just one of those shepherd’s hook-type metal supports with a bird feeder hanging from it. That is when the problems began!

The first clue that this would become problematic was when he awoke early one morning to some strange noises on his screened-in front porch. Upon investigation, he discovered a young black bear had broken into his screen-in porch and was busily munching away on the large bag of wild bird seed Uncle Ken had stored there. Luckily, he was able to shoo the bear away. Subsequently, he began storing the bird seed in the old outhouse that had long been converted into a tool shed. Things seemed quiet after that and the problem seemed to be taken care of. At least, until the next spring!

The Battle of the Bird Feeder

One evening, Uncle Ken returned from a fishing excursion into the north part of Raquette Lake. He and a few friends had left early in the morning to go fishing for Lake Trout.  When they returned, and he pulled in to park at his camp, he noticed the bird-feeder support was pushed over, the bird feeder was pretty badly smashed up, and the bird seed was, of course, gone. Nonplussed, he simply went into Old Forge and got a better support and a new bird feeder. The next day, the new birder feeder was in place, and his happy little feathered-friends were back. This however, was not the end of the story. Not by a long shot! The battle of the bird feeder quickly escalated and was waged over a period of several years.

Several times the bird feeder was raided by a black bear and the bird seed eaten. Each time the bird feeder had to be replaced and the mounting system became more substantial each time.

The Battle continues …

birdsI still remember the year he’d tried to use a 4×4 post. Uncle Ken had dug a hole, set the 4×4 in it, and poured concrete around it for a strong base. I was staying at our camp for a week that summer and got to observer the construction project first hand. This time he’d seen the bear, and it was a big one. He was headed out for the day when he discover the bear in his front yard. The bear simply snapped the 4×4 over and began busily munching down on the bird seed that had once been in the now mangled bird feeder.

Uncle Ken, angry now, went in to get his shotgun. The bear was gone when he returned. I guess the bear had decided that he’d over-stayed his welcome. Uncle Ken later told me that he really wasn’t going to shoot the bear, he just wanted to scare it off. Later that afternoon, he headed back to Old Forge for more concrete and a steel pole. “Something like a basketball goal post,” as he put it. When I headed back to Tennessee, he was out there re-digging the hole for the new “steel-pole” bird feeder base he was putting in.

The battle is finally won … the birds lose!

The next year I returned, only to notice that there was no bird feeder in place. Intrigued, I continued up to our camp, unloaded my gear, and then walked down the road to Uncle Ken’s camp to get, as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story!”  Uncle Ken was sitting on his screened-in porch when I walked up. I asked about the “goal-post” bird feeder. Uncle Ken just shook his head. He’d come home after a trip to Warrensburg to visit with a lady he’d become friendly with, only to find the metal post pushed over, the bird feeder demolished, and of course, the bird seed gone.

“The bear just pushed the damn thing over, pulling the concrete base right out of the ground,” he explained.

“At least, the bear had to work for it,” I observed, trying hard not to grin. I did know how stubborn he was and how much he hated losing, especially to a bear. “Are you going to try again?” I asked.

Uncle Ken again shook his head. “Nope!  If I do keep this going, eventually I will end up having to shoot that damn bear … and I don’t want to do that. Might upset the neighbors!”  I nodded, understanding that under his gruff exterior, he really had a big heart and he really didn’t want to shoot that bear. Uncle Ken went on, ” I guess the only real losers here are the birds … but they’ll be alright.”

 

If you enjoyed this story, check our the other Adirondack Bear Tale posts on my blog, or my military action/adventure novel, Serpents Underfoot, available at Amazon.com!

Adirondack Bear Tale #4: Donny Trees A Bear!

Donny Trees A Bear

donnyIt gets dark early in the Adirondacks. The night’s fire was just about burned out with only a few glowing embers left in the stone fireplace. The two young boys had already brushed their teeth and were ready for bed. They unzipped the mosquito netting and entered the large canvas cabin tent their father had pitched on a wooden tent platform followed by Donny, their 35-lb Spanish pointer. Zipping the netting behind them, the boys crawled into their sleeping bags. They had air mattresses underneath the sleeping bags and were comfortably settled in for the night. Donny settled down between them. Soon all three were sound asleep. Full days in the crisp Adirondack air made for good sleeping.

A little while later, their parents entered the tent and prepared for bed. Their sleeping bags were laid out on canvas folding cots and air mattresses. It was also a very comfortable arrangement. Soon all five were contentedly sleeping away. Tomorrow would be another new and glorious day. The boy’s grandfather was going to take them fishing over in the northern part of Raquette Lake in his beautiful Thompson Chris-Craft boat. It promised to be a grand adventure.

 

Sometime during the night, Donny awoke and let out a terrible growl. The two boys and their parents instantly sat up in their sleeping bags.

What was that?

There was another growl from Donny, and he was up like a flash. A second later he had torn through the mosquito netting and took off like a shot; snarling and growling like a wild animal protecting its young. Suddenly, there was another growl, and it wasn’t Donny. The boy’s dad was now up with his flashlight unzipping the mosquito netting to see what was going on while the rest of the family dug for their flashlights. Everyone kept a flashlight handy just in case. They could hear the dog barking wildly just a few yards away from the tent.

A few seconds later all four flashlight beams were shining in the direction of the growling and snarling dog. Donny was at the base of an old rotten beech tree about 30 feet from the tent. He was growling and barking ferociously at something up in the tree. Raising the flashlights beams a bit revealed a big black bear. The bear had scrambled up the old rotten trunk to get away from the crazy dog. The tree and its bark were rotten enough that the bear’s claws could not get a good purchase. The bear would begin to slide down the tree which would cause Donny to renew his barking and growling frenzy. This, in turn, would cause the bear to scramble a bit higher; only to start slipping again.

The bear, much bigger then the dog that was barking at him, could easily jump down and deal with the barking dog. Fortunately for Donny, the bear did not decide to do this.The barking, scrambling, and slipping went on for several minutes. Suddenly the bear completely lost its grip on the tree and tumbled to the ground. Rolling over the bear jumped to its feet and took off into the north woods with Donny right behind him, barking and growling as he went. The boys and their parents called after Donny.

Donny, Come! Donny, Come here!

But it was no use. Donny, chasing the black bear to who knows where, was long gone. Eventually, the two boys and their parents went back to bed. They wondered if they would ever see their dog again.
Donny was not back the next morning when the boys left to go fishing with their grandfather. He was not back that afternoon when they got back from their fishing trip to the northern part of Raquette Lake. That evening, the boy’s Dad finished patching the hole in the mosquito and still, Donny had not returned.

But later that evening, as the family sat down for a supper of Ravioli, bread and butter, and some of Mom’s homemade raspberry cobbler, Donny came trotting up to the picnic table with a delighted look on his face. In fact, it looked like he was grinning from ear to ear! Donny was utterly covered with Adirondack marsh mud, pieces of twigs and leaves, and he smelled like Adirondack swamp water. Donny had also worked up quite an appetite during his chase and was darn hungry! But, he was undoubtedly a hero … having saved the cooler from being raided by the prowling black bear.

Did you like this Adirondack Bear Tale?

If so, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, a military action adventure / counter-terrorism thriller available at Amazon.com!

Adirondack Bear Tale #1: Golden Beach

Bear Tales from the Adirondack Park

Adirondack Bear Tale #1: Golden Beach

Adirondack Bear TaleIt was dark at the Golden Beach Campground! When the lights go out in the Adirondacks, it gets pitch black. A twelve-year-old girl squirms in her sleeping bag. Her mother had warned her not to drink that last bottle of Coke Cola before going to bed. She had not listened, and now she had to use the bathroom!

What time is it? She wondered. Can I make it until morning? She did not think she could. Working quietly, trying not to wake her parents or her older brother and younger sister, she got herself ready. There was little chance of waking them, as her father was loudly snoring away. All four slept blissfully unaware. The cool Adirondack nights did make for great sleeping.

Reaching for the flashlight, she kept on the floor of the tent by her sleeping bag; the young girl turned it on. Careful not to shine it in anyone’s face, she unzipped the zipper on the side of her sleeping bag and crawled out. First, she put on the plaid flannel shirt because the night air was quite chilly outside her warm sleeping bag. Next, she reached for the beaded leather moccasins her mom had gotten for her on their last trip to the gift shops in Inlet.

Making her way to the front flap of the big cabin tent, she unzipped the mosquito netting, stepped out, and zipping the netting back; made her way down the path toward the women’s bathrooms. It was a short walk, maybe fifty yards. Golden Beach Campground had several men’s and women’s bathrooms and shower houses strategically located throughout the campground. Golden Beach Campground was a great place to camp. Their family had been camping there for years.

The girl made her way along the path, the beam of the flashlight projecting its circle of light on the ground a few feet in front of her. She was about halfway to the women’s bathroom when she froze. There, clearly defined in the circle of light from the flashlight, were two large black paws. The paws were attached to two somewhat furry black legs. Not panicking, the young girl tilted her light ever-so-slightly upward. Standing in the path a few feet in front of her, clearly framed in the light of her flashlight, was a rather large black bear!

Carefully, the girl lowered the light again until only the bear’s paws were visible. She slowly began to back up a step at a time while keeping the bear paws in the circle of light so she could see if it moved. When the beam of light could no longer reach the bear’s paws, she turned and made her way swiftly back to the tent. Quickly unzipping the mosquito netting, she stepped inside and zipped it shut. In a few minutes, she was back in her sleeping bag, listening to her father snore.

She decided she could wait until the morning after all!

Did you like this Adirondack Bear Tale #1?

If you did like this Adirondack Bear Tale, then stay tuned for future installments, and check out my novel here!