Let me preface this by by saying that the following statements, events, and recounts of events are all true. Except, of course, for the ones that aren’t. In truth, I know almost nothing about bears and bear hunting, this is all speculation.
Reason #1 – Tomahawk Chucking
First things first, if you’re in bear camp you’d better be throwing a tomahawk or two. Get to camp, dump your crap, and troll backroads in your freak-nasty Dodge until you spy a suitable round of firewood that one of your Keystone slurping, chew-mowwing brethren has left behind. Sling that bad boy in the bed and get to camp stat. You don’t need to bear hunt tonight anyway. Undoubtedly, you and the homeboys will spend the rest of the week playing grab-ass and squabbling about who threw it best. Assuming none of you are a direct descendant of Sitting Bull, you’ll all be horrid. Good luck. Loser washes dishes.
Reason #2 – Big Bonner’s
Camping beats actually hunting almost every time if you’re doing it right. After acquiring your tomahawk target you’re going to need to get a big ole’ bonner (bonfire) started. If you’ve been blessed with super neat hunting buddies like Jay and I have, they’ll probably say something like: “Hey you little gremlins, get a raging bonner started before we die out here!” Awesome. Gather as much wood as possible and get it going. Since you and the boys were busy farting on each other when your Boy Scout camp counselor explained how to start a fire, you’re going to have to grab the gas can and get aggressive. Mission accomplished.
Reason #3 – Crop Dusting
It’s noon by the time you drag your un-showered ass from the tent on day two. You’ve missed Bear:30, but just the morning shift. If you’re lucky your camp cook James has already whipped up a fresh pot of coffee; which will be about 15% actual coffee, and 85% grounds. Delicious. When you’ve chewed and swallowed your morning coffee, grab your pack and get to hiking. With any luck you’ll be hot on the six of the best beer drinker in camp. We’ll call him Zack. Stay close, and make sure you’re breathing hard. When last night’s beers hit bottom, you’ll be the first to smell it.
“Dude, they aren’t even bad!” Zack laughs.
Right. You could pass him, but it’s pretty steep. You might just have to suffer through it. Don’t stress, you’ll get him back in time.
Reason #4 – Bear Snacks
“Dude, you want some candy?” Travis asked as we filled our packs for the evening hunt. I stared at him like it was an of inside joke that I wasn’t in on.
“Uhh..no I’m good, thanks,” I said.
“Your loss,” he replied.
I’d never hunted with these guys before, and I sure as hell didn’t want them to think I was that greasy kid from the second grade who never grew out of his baby fat. You know, the kid you were afraid to high-five because of the sweat-induced film that always covered his hands? I didn’t need that crap.
Two weeks later, Zack, James and I were huffing and puffing our way through mile-three of a lengthy pack out at around 1 a.m. We reached the halfway point and scrounged for a place to take a load off.
“Dude, you want some candy?” Zack asked.
I could have cried. You bet I wanted some candy. Two Rolo’s and a stale gummy worm later we were ready to roll. Energy stores replenished, we stumbled through the next few miles without a hitch. Long story short, bring some kind of sugary bear-snack when you hit the hills chasing spring bruins. You never know when that same sugary snack that propelled your beefy, second-grade pal through recess will save your ass on the mountain.
Reason #5 – Ronnie, Lonnie and Connie
If for some reason you stumble on a bear or two worthy of naming, there are a few things you should know. For starters, names that command a certain sense of badassery should be reserved for bears to match. Average sows with cubs need names you might overhear at the local supermarket or while attending the neighborhood book-club. Margaret, Sharon and Barbara are fail-safe. Jason, Matt and Paul are good names for those schmedium boars, while Kenneth is only acceptable if he shows potential for future badassery.
Size isn’t the only thing that comes into play when naming your bears, though. Attitude should be a taken into serious consideration. On the first evening of bear camp, Zack and I spotted Ronnie (Coleman). He sauntered back and forth atop a knife ridge about a mile and a half distant. He ripped 35 inch trees apart with his brute strength, and ran sprints to and fro in some kind of high intensity interval training. As we watched, he laid beneath a hanging log and leg-pressed a monstrous ponderosa for ten sets of ten. We elected to chase him in the morning.
Ronnie was big, but it wasn’t sheer size that earned him his name, it was mostly his attitude. We saw Connie, his sister, out with the cubs later that night, and his brother, Lonnie, later met the business end of Zack’s rifle. But we never caught up with Ronnie, likely due to his aggressive attitude and peak physical condition. If your unfamiliar with Ronnie Coleman the video below will get you up to speed.
Reason #6 – Bear:30
What the hell is Bear:30 anyway? Good question. Bear:30 – not to be confused with its close cousin, Beer:30 – is when those veteran bruins get up and slow-ride their way to a favorite munching ground. Maybe it’s where the grass is the best, maybe it’s where the honeys are. Regardless, if it’s Bear:30 you need to be in the woods; and I don’t mean chilling in the whip, “glassing” with a cold beverage.
By Bear:30 you should have summited at least two peaks, crop dusted your buddies, and be looking into country that hasn’t seen a human-being since Lewis and Clark. Once you’re there, chill out. Bear:30 generally runs from around 6:30-9 in both the morning and evening, give or take a few minutes. Find a good spot and set up, it’s only a matter of time until Lonnie makes an appearance; or even better, Ronnie.
Reason #7 – Bear Chronic
Graminoids are monocotyledonous, generally herbaceous plants with narrow leaves sprouting from the base. This includes members of the family Poaceae, Cyperaceae and Juncaceae. Simple right? Actually, it is. All that shit is just grass. However, we like to use its scientific name: Bear Chronic. Bear Chronic grows everywhere, but where you find the highest concentrations of the stuff you’ll also find the bears. When Ronnie, Lonnie and Connie awake from their long winters nap they’re headed straight for the thickest, juiciest Bear Chronic.
Frequent users argue that Bear Chronic is non-habit forming, but we know better. Side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, abundance of Bob Marley apparel, lack of motivation and over-use of words like ‘gnarly, chill and rad.’ Street names for the substance include, ‘Astro-Turf, Dinkie-Dow, Bo-Bo and Donna Jauna,’ so keep your ears open.
Old logging roads usually hold large quantities of Bear Chronic, so check ‘em out. You should be seeing piles upon piles of bear dung to boot. If so, you’re definitely in the sweet spot. Come back a little before Bear:30 and wait for the action to start.
Reason 8: Stump Bears
“I’ve got one,” James hissed.
Travis ditched the spotter and hustled to where James was glassing. I followed suit.
“Where is he?” I whispered.
The abstract directions that followed guided my glass to rest on a big, black…something.
“Uhhh…has it moved?” Travis asked.
The answer is no. It hadn’t moved, ever, at least not since it came crashing down in the blaze that charred it pitch black. The moral of the story is this: nine times out of ten, it isn’t a bear. It’s a stump bear. Yeah yeah, we know, it really looked like a bear, and you swear it was moving just a second ago.
Everybody wants to be the guy that spots the bear, you’re a hero if you do. But it’s likely that you won’t be that guy. Someone in the group might be, but it probably won’t be you. Stay frosty, keep your eyes on him, and if your stump bear takes off running or stands up on it’s hind legs, then and only then, would it be appropriate to alert the posse.
Reason 9: Truck Mobbin’
“Do you say ‘mobbin’ too?” Jay looked at me.
“Yeah man, mobbin’, it’s basically all I do,” I mumbled between bites of my tailgate turkey sandwich.
Being from the Tennessee, I guess Jay had never ‘mobbed.’ Mobbin’ is basically the act of cruising the Dodge – or whatever truck brand you and your daddy choose to associate with – down some backroads and kicking it. Whether you’re headed to town or back to camp, more often than not you’re bumping your favorite beat – Avril’s 1992 hit Sk8er Boi – and Tokyo drifting every corner. Or not, maybe you’re just chatting up an evening GP (game plan) with the dudes. Whatever the case, you’re mobbin’.
Reason 10: Ticks
Ticks are a terrifying creature. If the thought of a nickel-sized insect braving the dangers of your ass-crack to suck your blood doesn’t terrify you, you’re either a SEAL, or impressively dimwitted. I’m leaning towards dimwitted. Anyways, the aftermath of a long pack out left me standing alone in my kitchen at 3:30 in the morning. I was starving, but I struggled pouring the milk into my Frosted Flakes. Standing in the half light of the kitchen, I ran my hands through the mane. The little beasts were everywhere. I abandoned the cereal – a cardinal sin – and hit the shower. I think I pulled five or six of the little buggers off of me that night; most of which had taken residence in my fledgling mullet. I wrestled with my emotions as I contemplated cutting the hair I had worked so hard to achieve. I had already limped past the awkward stage. You know, when it’s too long for you to be a responsible adult but not enough to achieve your desired degree of mullet success? On the other hand I had serious personal issues with the tick-farm my hair was becoming. But I had already come this far, I couldn’t let them win. I kept it and returned to my soggy bowl of cereal.
So that’s it. There’s ten good reasons why you need to be chasing spring bears with your buddies. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t see how anything will. More bears for the rest of us I suppose.
-Written by Sam Averett