Some of you reading my last post surely picked up on the part where I said that yelling aggressively at a bear will cause it to leave “almost always.”

I’ve only not been able to scare a bear away once. There have been a few other times when I’ve had trouble scaring a bear away, but ultimately succeeded.

One late afternoon in 2000, I (with others) responded to a report of a bear near Upper Pines Campground. The bear, a large male I was quite familiar with at that point, hung out for a while near (but outside) the campground. So, we just kept an eye on him for a while. Eventually, the bear wandered some more and vanished. (Bears are surprisingly good at this.)

So, we all split up and went to various nearby places to see if we could find the bear again. I went to Lower Pines Campground and found the bear in the campground as he walked up to a locker and tried to open it, but it was latched, so he couldn’t. He went to the next locker, which wasn’t completely latched (see Smart Bear Tricks, part 3), and he opened it up and started dragging food out. When I tried to scare him away, he didn’t budge. When I tried harder, he got up from his meal and started walking toward me with what’s often called the “cowboy swagger.” At that point, early in my bear career, I hadn’t ever heard of this behavior, so I was unsure of what to do, other than back up. (We were within feet of each other.) While I had been bluff charged by this bear in previous encounter–to very close–this actually seemed scarier! So, he continued to eat, and I stood there helplessly watching… and waiting for the wildlife crew to show up.

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