May was filled with many outdoor surprises and experiences; how blessed I am.
I watched a doe kicking away 3 other deer from her fawn. No doubt they were her fawns of a year or so ago who have to be taught roughly that they are on their own now.
During the spring gobbler season just past, I watched for hours the tussle between a pack of crows and a few wild turkeys. The turkeys would tolerate the crows in the field until they crossed some invisible barrier that the turkeys considered too close.
Then the turkeys would charge the crows, the crows would take to the air, circle around cackling loudly and then land in the field again. If they got too close to the feeding turkeys, the chase was on again.
I took my blind out to some area State Game Lands and set it up on the edge of a small field, ringed by thick Russian Olive bushes. Not much was happening so as I often deliberately do, about 9 a.m. I leaned back and allowed my self to snooze. Shortly, however I woke with a start.
I heard heavy footsteps coming through the brush behind me and a strange snuffling, heavy-breathing sound. My instant thought was that it was a hunter coming through the brush behind me and that made me nervous. So I leaned out the side window of my blind to take a look and came face to face with a black bear!
He was sniffing and snuffing, trying to figure out what it was he scented. It was me, of course, but my scent was covered by the copious amounts of insect repellent I had put out.
When he saw me he swapped ends and beat it out of there. To me, the sight of a bear in the woods is always a thrill; having one within 5 yards is not so thrilling.
Black bears are more scared of humans than we are of them. They are elusive and seldom seen, that's why it is such a great thing to spot one in the wild. Nevertheless, whether it is a bear or a squirrel, I do not like to have any wild creature get too close to me in the woods.
Not because they are ferocious beasts that will attack because they are not. It's because they are very frightened of human beings and if they are startled by one at close range they often strike out in defense. I can imagine that the bear I startled had lots of stories to tell to his denmates about the awful human that almost got him.
Bears that people bait to their back yard are another story, however. These are the bears you might want to be leery of - the ones that humans think they have "tamed", that they try to feed marshmallows to by hand. This is a foolish practice in the extreme. Nothing good ever comes of wild animals being conditioned to tolerate people so they can get the food they want. They are opportunists, as are all wild animals. You put corn, apples, scraps, bird seed or whatever out behind the house and bears, squirrels, raccoons, and assorted other critters are going to come get it. They consider it theirs, however, and they can get testy if you try to get too close or remove the food or take photos or whatever.
Which brings us to bears that come to town. Why are black bears always spotted in the late spring/early summer strolling through towns? For the most part, it is because this is the beginning of the breeding season for bears. And this season starts in June.
When a sow bear has cubs, she does not come into estrus again for about two years. So at that second year, her first order of business is to chase away her now one-and-a-half year-old cubs. This alone is a harsh task; she chases and growls and lets them know they are no longer wanted.
The bears are confused at this turn of events. Female bears will just usually wander off and find a new home not too far away but the male bears tend to start wandering to find a new territory in which to live. Their searching often takes them right through the streets of a town or behind the out-buildings of a farm.
When such young bears are spotted, if they were just left alone they would keep going until they found a suitable piece of habitat.
But people seem to think that a bear comes into town because it is looking for someone to eat. Not so. They are looking for somewhere to call home. They may be distracted for awhile by a whiff of Fido's dish of food on a back porch or a bird feeder, but they are not on a mission to attack a human being.
A bewildered bear, looking for a new home and encountering a crowd of half-hysterical onlookers scoots up a tree, a trick his mama taught him, and it cowers there feeling trapped. Someone then calls the Game Commission, they come and administer a tranquilizer drug and transport him out to a new home far away and the officers wonder how long it will be before they have to rescue it in some other town.
Again, the warning comes to let wildlife alone. The fawn you think is abandoned is probably not alone. Do not "rescue" wild animals, it just means trouble and likely death to that animal.