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Bears & the London Philharmonic

To The Desert Independent

June 22, 2017

Well, the bears are out now and will be until late fall, so maybe a bear tip might be in order. As a guide and outfitter emeritus Ė and emeritus is Latin for ďIím too danged old to pack moose meat out on my backĒ Iíll talk a bit about olí ursus.

If youíre in dangerous bear country, some people tell you to wear a little bell that tinkles, and the bear hears this and says, ďOh, that must be a person, and Iíll bet itís a nice person, too, so Iíll just amble off this way.Ē

Well, when Iím in thick cover that bears might inhabit, and Iím not looking for one, I make a lot more noise than that!

One time Jim Kershner and I were going through some willow thickets along a creek at the base of Mt. McKinley Ö which is a large frozen rock that is now called Denali, and the salmon were running. I was in the lead, and Jim was behind me, beating on a gold pan with a rock. I looked down and saw a four-pound salmon flopping in the trail in front of me. It had toothmarks about four inches apart. And, it was on top of a bear track that measured 10 inches across. I measured it later. Much later. A little guide translation here: A 10-inch-wide bear track means a nine-foot long bear. Well, Jim and I went up one side of that creek and two big sows and a yearling went up the other side. Then we sat there snorting at each other.

So is that bell a good idea? Sure, if you donít have anything as loud as the London Philharmonic with you.

But the bottom line is: if youíre out messing around in the same country with grizzlies, or with black bears during small cub season or a salmon run, you always ALWAYS carry a rifle. A .30-06 is a good minimum caliber.

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"Home Country" columnist Slim Randles won three regional book awards for the two books he wrote in 2014. "Max Evans and a Few Friends, the 90th Birthday Book" took honors for best non-fiction book, and "Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing" won for best how-to book and best cover design at the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in Albuquerque. Randles lives in Albuquerque and has a dozen books currently in print.

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