Monday, April 27, 2009


My husband, Jerry, is famous in our neighborhood at Tahoe, except people don't necessarily connect him with the incident. We'll be at one of the special events during the year and someone will say to me, "What about that guy who confronted the bear that came into his kitchen?" My husband is one those "I will take care of anything" kind of guys.

It was August. We were up at Tahoe to celebrate one of our son's birthdays. At 2:30 AM our dog, Plato, started to bark. Even though Plato is part Akita and an Akita doesn't bark except for very good reasons, I was mostly irritated. After all, having a dog bark at 2:30 in the morning is not fun.

Jerry got up to investigate, opened the door to the living room and walking around the corner into the kitchen found a full grown black bear staring him in the face. All I heard was "Oh my God!"

I would have closed the door and let the bear do his thing but Jerry stood up tall and made threatening noises, which is what you're supposed to do when confronted with a black bear.
The bear then proceeded to get up on its hind legs, walk over and confront Jerry. The books do not tell you a black bear will do this. They're supposed to be so frightened of you they run away. This bear was not frightened.

A moment later Jerry is backing into the bedroom, I look up and see a huge black bear silhouetted in the doorway. A full grown black bear standing on its hind legs can be all of eight feet tall. This bear was big.

I got up and ran screaming around the end of the bed, stopping just behind Jerry. Something about protecting my mate. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have done anything other than cower under the covers. There still must be a lot of instinct going in us.

At that the bear turned and ran. The sound of two voices yelling must have done the trick although Jerry kids me by saying it was the sight of my body that did it. Given we were in bed and men and women in bed don't always have a lot of clothes on, in fact may happily shed them--well, you get the picture. Jerry's body isn't much better.

We followed the bear into the kitchen, picking up pans as we went and beating the hell out of them. The bear leaped through the new opening he made in the door to the kitchen and was gone. It had popped open a pane of glass in the door to get in.

The whole time our son, Glenn, had been standing just outside, trying desperately to figure out what to do. You're not supposed to block the exit of a black bear and that was the only way he could have entered the house and helped Jerry at all. He ran in, looked at Jerry and yelled, "Dad, your back!"

The bear had left a little damage in his wake. When Jerry saw me standing behind him he turned around and told me to stay back. The bear then grabbed him by the shoulder as if to say "Hey, I like you. Don't go away!" The bear did not claw Jerry, still it left a nasty imprint on his back. Jerry had no idea he was wounded. "I can fix that," I said nonchalantly and led Jerry into our bathroom and proceeded to try washing off the damage with a washcloth. We were both a little out of it, to say the least.

A trip to the emergency room and ten stitches later we were home again, only to find ourselves giving a report to a fish and game warden at four or five in the morning. The report never made it into the newspapers. We at Tahoe are very protective of our bears. I'm sure everyone thought every redneck within a hundred miles would be after that bear.

The Bear Lady (as we named her) from the local bear protection organization came the next day and set up what is called "A Bear Begone." It's a trap baited with something tasty that, when triggered, sends pepper spray into the eyes of the bear. The bear came back the next night and was scared away by the Bear Lady. It never came back.

It's now bear sighting time again. Would we want to confront a full grown black bear again? You guessed it. Never in our wildest dreams.


JKB said...

That is awesome. I would love to see one. Not to have it over for tea, tho. ;)

Kerri said...

You know you have a good marriage when your hubs can tell you your nearly naked body scared the bear away. ROFL!

IDK Marsh, I think I'd be terrified. Bears are cute from a distance, but when I go hiking, esp. w/ Max, I'm always looking around. In FL I stepped over many a snake, circumnavigated around gators, but bears really scare me.

marsh to the fore said...

Right after that incident we heard some pretty wild stories about a particular bear and I naturally wondered whether it was our bear I was hearing about. I think what I was about to say would make a great blog piece at some point soon so I'll hold it for that.

Kerri, I am terrified of bears. No question about it. That's what's so nutty about what I did!

We do have a good marriage. One of the most important reasons for that is we have the ability to laugh at ourselves.