The trouble started this summer. My neighbor down the road, who hails from Massachusetts and was spending the week at his self-built rustic cabin in the woods, made a careless mistake: he left his picnic cooler on the porch.
A young male 150 lb. bear that must have been tired of the abundant wild blueberries, was most appreciative. He climbed onto the porch, opened the cooler, had a little feast, and lumbered away.
The neighbor thought it was a great adventure: no real harm done, and a bear on his porch! But the next time, my neighbor said to himself, he must be more careful not to leave food in the cooler.
So the next night, the cooler lay empty on his porch. The bear came back, looking for more. I know this because at 11 p.m. I heard my neighbor shouting, “Get away! G’on now! Git!” and my poodle was barking like crazy at the commotion.
The following night, my neighbor was out for the evening. My neighbor wasn’t taking any chances, so he made sure that the empty cooler was inside the cabin. But this was one determined bear, and when he didn’t see the cooler on the porch, he decided to check where that cooler disappeared to. As no one came to the door when the bear knocked, he invited himself in by climbing through the window (breaking the glass with his sheer bulk) and sure enough, the cooler was inside.
Unfortunately the cooler was empty, and the bear did not take this well. Disgusted, he threw the empty cooler out the broken porch window, and decided to find some dinner elsewhere in the cabin. He rummaged through the kitchen garbage and made a heck of a mess. But I guess Mr. Bear was conscious about his dental hygiene because he then ambled over to the bathroom, where he proceeded to eat a tube of toothpaste and jump out the bathroom window, all before my neighbor returned home. By now even my poodle was getting used to the sounds of the bear down the road, and after a single “Ruff!” the dog settled back into the comfort of his bed: so much for protecting me against wild animals.
I got an email. “If you see a bear that has peppermint breath, you’ll know he’s the one,” my neighbor wrote. He also mentioned that should Mr. Bear return, the next time he would be greeted with a shotgun.
Alas, the following night the bear did indeed return. Again I awoke late at night to my neighbor yelling, “Git! Git! G’on now!” and then… KABOOM! But I could tell from the gun’s report that the neighbor had aimed over the bear’s head just to scare him away.
This was only momentarily successful. With my dog on alert due to the gunshot, and barking like crazy, the bear ran onto our property. It was pitch dark and I didn’t see him personally, but I know he was there because nervous Mr. Bear very inconsiderately pooped in the middle of our driveway, and let me tell you, bear scat does not come in size small.
He did not return for a few days, so my neighbor stopped sleeping next to his shotgun, and I was now able to sleep through the night without interruption. Alas, it did not last. Taken by surprise, my neighbor was nowhere near his gun when the bear once again entered his cabin. Thinking quickly, he sprayed him with the entire contents of his fire extinguisher.
“He should be easy to spot,” my neighbor told me the next day. “He’s the one that looks like a polar bear.”
After meeting up with the fire extinguisher, the bear did not return.
Two weeks later, bear hunting season began. The very first day, a hunter shot and killed a young male bear, around 150 lbs., about 1/2 mile from my house. Unlike most of the bears in the area, he seemed to be used to humans.