Don't Feed The Bears

by Ashley Davis
Contest entry for Burton Treble Yell Pack.  See contest details.

It was a beautiful, early morning on the Black River. Mist was rising out of the canyon off the river as we descended from the rim. It had the promise of an amazing day.

The Black River in this part of Arizona flows slowly and is almost bathtub warm in the summer time, perfect for smallmouth bass, sunfish and channel catfish. The water is clean and although I release almost everything I catch, I can't help but take one or two smallmouth home to eat as they are delicious (filleted, coated in Ritz cracker crumbs and fried in butter- nothing better!).

I was with a group of scouts and other leaders. Most of the boys had never caught a fish and the Black River is the perfect place for novice fishermen as the bass are extremely aggressive and hit and fight hard.

We found a great hole and the boys and leaders were pulling in fish almost every cast. The boys were thrilled and I would have been but the fish were quite small and I knew that there were better places to fish about a mile down river.

So I took one of the young men and we started hiking down the river. At one point we followed a trail around a point, and right there in the middle of the trail was a fresh bear track. I stopped and pointed it out to the young man.

I made sure to point out that the mist was rising off of the river, we had caught several fish, and had seen a bear track to top it all off. He seemed pleased and I felt gratitude that I was showing this city boy the greatness of God's creations.

We walked on a ways and the trail separated from the river and went up on a cliff about 12 feet from the water. As we neared the end of the cliff where the trail came down again, there was a bear exactly below us, frozen, looking up at us.

I immediately assumed it was hungry so I took the nice smallmouth bass off of my stringer and threw it down to the bear. There weren't any "Don't feed the bears" signs anywhere so I figured it was no big deal. The fish landed right in front of the bear and the bear pounced on it, gripping it in its jaws and headed up the mountain right in front of us.

We could hear the bear crunching the bones as he ate the fish. We continued on our way and ended up about a half a mile away fishing in a nice hole. The fishing had slowed down and I looked up to see if the other leaders and boys were coming yet. They weren't, but the bear was.

He was on all fours, running straight at us as fast as he could go. I'm sure he was coming for more fish. I got the attention of the young man with me and pointed at the bear. His face went as white as a sheet.

I thought of my options. I was pretty sure I couldn't outrun the bear or the young man with me. There was really nowhere to go. That's when something inside of me just snapped. I threw down my backpack and my fishing rod and then I picked up two fist size river rocks, one in each hand, and I started running toward the bear yelling at the top of my lungs.

I was throwing rocks and they were smashing into other rocks and making a ton of noise. We kept running at each other until we were about 30 feet apart. It stopped and so did I. It was eying me pretty seriously so I threw a rock at it and hit it in the backside. It yelped and turned and ran up the mountain.

I went back to an an amazed youth who felt that I had just saved his life from a vicious bear attack. The next day at church I received a hero's welcome and one of the leaders commented that if a 6'4", 230 lb man was running at him screaming and throwing rocks he would have ran away also.

I don't recommend what I did to scare off the bear, I just did it and it worked that time. I've never had to try it out again because I learned, DON'T FEED THE BEARS!

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from this adventure.



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