This week we’ve learned of a park ranger being killed by a grizzly in Montana and a jogger attacked by a black bear, events that may have perked my awareness. As I began checking my stands for the fall deer opener, I noticed a huge log rolled completely over, as shown in the photo to the left. This was a solid chuck of timber, larger in diameter than a telephone pole, and I’m sure the wind didn’t budge it. Nearby was another, smaller, piece of downed timber removed from its bedding in the leaves — signs of a black bear (and large one at that) looking for insects and grubs under rotting logs.
I hunt in rural western Maryland, which is far from what you’d call the big mountains. Yet black bears have moved into farms and smaller woodlots in the four western free state counties. Black bears inhabit about half the 50 states, with concentrations on the coasts and mountain ranges of the east and west. Normally, black bear are afraid of humans and are a thrill to observe should one come walking past your tree stand. On the other hand, black bears, especially females with cubs, don’t tolerate humans well, so you’ll want to be observant of your surroundings and steer clear if you see them.
One of the surest signs of bear presence is a dung pile. Yes, they do that in the woods! The larger the pile, the bigger the bear. My point is not to alarm you as you begin your fall scouting, only to create a little extra caution. Be beary aware!
Tell us what you think in the comments section below.