Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ursine Visitation

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, and today we had our first rummaging bear encounter. For the past two years, we've seen bears in the area and even on our property; but they were always content to munch on the berries and stay away from the human areas and noises. However, our new neighbor's grill left on the trail at the end of the driveway proved to be more a temptation than our running generator was a deterrent.

No one was hurt, and the bear skedaddled when discovered; so hopefully this won't be the beginning of a bad trend, and the bear hasn't learned that people means food. I suspect he was one of the cubs that we saw with their mom during one of the previous autumns, so maybe he was just investigating now that he's out on his own. He didn't really get too much food, just some glue and vinegar, but he did find some candy... and, of course, the grill smelled really good. Fingers crossed that we don't have more issues.

This is why it's essential to be near-immaculate with your food and refuse out here in the middle of the wild. If your grill is out unattended, it has to be thoroughly cleaned after every use. You can't rely on just charring and brushing off the grates each time you cook because the smell is still there attracting critters. Securing your grills, coolers and garbage cans and cleaning up utensils and spills to eliminate yummy smells is the only way to keep bears and other critters from learning that your homestead (or your neighbors!!) is a source of easy food. Once they figure out that you mean food, both you and they are in danger of some very unfortunate encounters that could have been easily avoided.

If an animal is already hanging about because of careless trash handling and food storage/prep while you're clearing and building, just imagine how much more of a problem they're going to be when you have a compost pile, garden and livestock! Don't create a problem. Don't leave it out. Don't leave it stinky.

Think food in your kitchen is secure? Think again, bears are extremely agile!

Think food in your vehicle is secure? Think again, bears are extremely smart and very persistent!

Think your dog or enclosure will keep your livestock secure? Think again, a hungry bear often ignores barking dogs and fences! Mmm mmm -- chicken, it's what's for dinner.

A shining example why letting pasture animals keep their horns might be a good idea in bear country.

Love barbecue and smoked meats? So does Mr. Bear!


Anonymous said...

Sigh, sounds like the new neighbor needs a little educating....serious stuff.

Plickety Cat said...

Sigh... yes, it would seem so. I'm a bit surprised because they've lived in AK and other remote areas long enough to know better. I hope it was just a matter of everything being so frantic that they just forgot to clean the grill.

Hope is a bit thin though, since the grill is still there and I don't think it's been cleaned and they left their dog *staked* out *alone* over there last night (200 yds away through the trees with no clear line of sight).

We lost a day of work down at the cabin so we could keep an eye on the tent and our animals in case the bear came back... didn't sleep too soundly last night either keeping an ear out.

Anonymous said...

Black or grizz? If Black get your tags... you have been here long enough. Winter meat. lol


Plickety Cat said...

It's a black, not too big or old. Probably be real tasty. Rez license & harvest ticket in hand... if he shows up again, I'm filling the freezer!! Of course, I'd like to wait a few more weeks until he's fattened up on the berries... but better sooner than later if he becomes a nuisance ;)

Marybeth said...

I'd make that grill disappear.....

Anonymous said...

Been a while since I checked in PC, but I read every post on your blog and have since post #1. Question: What rifles are favored by the locals there for dangerous game like bears -- especially Grizzly bears? Here in (broiling hot) Texas a .30-30 lever action is usually adequate. I would not want to take on a bear with a peashooter like that, though, even with a very well placed shot. So what's the thinking there? Is it something bigger than a .30-06?


Plickety Cat said...

BSV - shotguns are the preferred bear defense weapon around these parts. A good 12ga pump alternately loaded with 3" hot loaded 00 buck and slugs. First shot in the tube should be buckshot because it can be quickly/sloppily aimed at the face of a charging bear and will impair its ability to see and smell you while you take the time to properly aim the slug for a kill (hopefully).

.30-06 or higher rifles are recommended for bear and large game up here. It's possible to go lower, especially with a black bear (.30-30 usually work for those), but smaller calibers usually requires more time, and relies more on perfect aim and good luck... none of which may be practical when you encounter a large wild animal ;)

You can defend against a bear or other large game with a *large* handgun, but most folks only consider them back ups - not the go-to weapon. I'd take my shotty over my .357 any day!

In heavy grizzly and polar bear country, it's not uncommon to see .338 Win Mags... those critters are larger and more aggressive than the more common blackies and moose.

Urbancowgrrl said...

I know they're destructive but they're so darn cute! I like the way the bear goes for the marshmellows before the carrots in that kitchen video. They are like raccoons in the city - so cute but so destructive. I agree that if he comes back you should make a meal of him - that should feed you guys for at least a year!

Not everyone who has lived somewhere for a long time actually knows what they're doing. Some folks are just lucky they are still alive. It never ceases to amaze me how some people survive in this world with such lack of common sense ... like staking their dog outside all night with a hungry bear wandering around. Poor dog. :(

Quinton said...

Howdy, I was just wondering how you managed to run a freezer without commercial electric. Is it possible to hook up to electric in your location? I guess it would be very costly.

Plickety Cat said...

Howdy Quinton - no way could we afford to get grid power back here. Even if there was power at the road (which there isn't), it would cost us more than we paid for the 80 acres and all the cabin materials. Paying a little extra for an off-grid appliance, battery and panel is way less costly!

We have a super-insulated, super-efficient 5 cu ft Sundanzer DC chest freezer that's hooked up to our household (or is that "tent hold"?) battery bank at the moment. It's efficient enough to run on a single 135w panel given our avg temps and long summer days. So we'll be giving it a dedicated panel and backup battery once we get set up in the cabin.

As you can imagine, we certainly don't need to run a freezer in the winter so it doesn't matter that we don't generate much power via PV during the long winter nights :)

Anonymous said...

Hiya, I know this is a little late and somewhat off the current subject but I also live in the Fairbanks area and was really impressed by your Ellis jacks on post design, However I cannot find a local vendor for the jacks. I'm looking to purchase 24ea for a 24x40 building. Could you share where and how you got them? Thanks a bunch :D.

Plickety Cat said...

Hello all - the bear hasn't eaten us :D

We got our screw jacks directly from the manufacturer, Ellis. They're in Oklahoma, so shipping wasn't cheap, but we couldn't find a distributor anywhere in Alaska and the product was worth it. Here's the link to the timber jacks on their site:

Anonymous said...

The Brown Bear here on the AK Peninsula have gotten so numerous and thus overly aggressive we have found that an electric fence is the only way to have half a chance against the guys visiting when not wanted.
Both our neighbors and us are very good about keeping things cleaned up, burnt, and generally bear boring but they still show up at times.
With the fence they seem to hit it once and go other places. Might be worth a try IF you end up with too many visitors.

Plickety Cat said...

Thanks UgaVic, we'll likely need to get electric fencing when we get our barn livestock... earlier if we need it. One of the bear safety site I looked at said that electric barbed wire is most effective against bears because the barbs penetrate their thick fur better to give 'em a good zap... sounds logical.