View Full Version : Big Bad Bear!!!

03-24-2007, 04:12 PM
We bought our home on Cove Mountain in February '06. The log "Bearskin Lodge" had been a rental unit. Left for us was a five-year visitors' log. A large black bear had been visiting the place three or four times a year, mostly getting into garbage left outside. However, one time the bruin had cornered four young kids in the hot tub while standing for about five or ten minutes watching the horrified kids from a short distance above the lower deck.

I had talked to a Ranger at Metcalf Bottoms about the bear and he said that the bear was a regular to the park and paid little attention to folks even while getting into some food coolers from the tables at dusk with picnickers watching. His opinion was that it was just a matter of time before someone got too close and the bear would..at the least...terribly hurt someone!!! Further, the park service had to install ground mounted pipes against the dumpsters to stop him from turning them over.

It was storming about 8:30 p.m. on Friday June 23, '06. My wife was reading a book while sitting inside next to the porch door waiting for it to slack up so that she could take some stuff to our separate garage. The bear passed her about three feet away looked at her then moseyed on along up the porch, came back looked at her again then moved passed. I was in the shower when I heard her screaming, "There's a bear!! There's a bear!!!" Looking through the bedroom window I saw the monster! He was now eating some bird seed that we had put on the porch banister for a nesting mother bird.

Still dripping wet, I threw on a pair of walking shorts and grabbed my 35 Caliber Remington Carbine and sneaked to the living room porch door. Quietly easing the door open and readying the rifle against the door frame I was about 10 feet from the facing-away feeding bear with a perfect shot lined up to the nape of his skull. He must have heard me when I eased back the hammer on the 160 grain metal jacket bullet for he turned his head, let out a big grunt and leaped two giant leaps away and then he turned appearing ready to charge back at me. I had a great shot picture of him ten steps away over the rifle's sights zeroing in right behind his right shoulder..just where the heart should be. I squeezed the trigger and saw him stagger as he let out a very, very loud "hooof" as his lungs emptied. He quickly disappeared from view as he ran behind the house and down my drive way.

Immediately slamming the door I, with my wife behind me screaming, "Don't go out!!! Don't go out!!!", ran to the opposite side of the living room and through the window saw the bear clawing as he went speeding up a 20 foot bank before he all of the sudden slipped, stopped...and then went limp..rolling back down to the asphalt below. He did not move a muscle indicating that the bullet, indeed, had found its target.

With her still screaming at me I went slowly to him carefully inspecting the carcass as I approached looking for signs of life and 'signs of no life': No signs of body movement, no lung movement, his bowels plainly had released, and his tong was hanging sideways out of his jaw. I spear-poked him hard with the rifle on his rump..no movement. I then circled around to the side of head reaching out from an extended distance to hard-scrape the front sight of the rifle across his open and stilled eyeball...with the hammer back in case I needed it. Still no movement. The bear was, indeed, dead.

To prevent the possibility of coyotes getting to the carcass during the night and until the next morning when we would get in touch with the game wardens at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency we decided to pull him with a rope tied to our Ford Explorer and drag him into my nearby Harley trailer. He had lumbered only 35 steps from the point of bullet impact leaving a dark red blood trail indicating the heart was indeed hit.

The next morning early I phoned the TWRA telling the officer the whole story and asking him if I was going to be arrested!! He asked, "Were you and your wife threatened by the bear so that you feared for your lives?" I stated, "Absolutely!! What would that bear have done if she had walked out on the porch when she first saw him and he felt his exit blocked? Plus he turned to come back at me!'' His reply, "The bear would have run through and over her!! And he was startled by you and might have gotten back to you!! But I've got to come there and let you show me proof of what you said."

About an hour later he arrived, saw the muddy footprints on the porch defining the bears approach and exit, saw evidence of where the bullet had arrived and exited its live target, saw the blood trail to and up the bank, saw evidence of our 'rope-dragging' him into the trailer and asked more questions verifying and re-verifying my statements. The officer was very respectful and did a fine job of investigating.

Now here's what added to the excitement: The bear had been visiting Metcalf Bottoms, its visitors and the dumpsters for four years! The TWRA had kept a baited bear trap in Wears' Valley for over two years to no avail.The bruin had broken into and destroyed at least three or four empty dwellings/Rvs in the valley every year plus kept most of the garbage bags and trash cans and bird feeders there empty, also. He covered an area of about tens miles in diameter during breeding season. Hunters with skilled bear dogs could not get close enough because the bear would not 'bay' or even climb a tree, but would simply turn on the dogs when they got too close. The game warden remarked, "With all considered, you really did do me a favor. I'm just glad no one got hurt by him. It was just a matter of time before someone or even a kid cornered him and got badly hurt."

I wanted the hide and even offered to 'blanket him out" for them!! Nope, no doing! Their practice when an animal is harvested out of season is to confiscate it in its entirely, thus not seeming to reward the shooter at all, even under life threatening circumstances. So, he and I grunted and strained while trying to sliding MY bearskin rug up onto his pickup! He took the bear to a location where a necropsy was to be performed to determine among other things his age, if he had been tagged or tattooed or branded earlier, his health condition, what he had been eating and his weight. The next week they informed me that the bear weighed 375 pounds and was 5 years old and probably would reach 500 pounds in the fall.

Learning from this:

1. Humans are 'invading' the bear's environment, not vice versa.
2. The bears are looking for food..not to inflict harm on folks.
3. Garbage should not be left or stored in such a way as making it the choice for easy food getting by animals. Birdseed needs to be hung high.
4. Once a bear finds garbage/food easily gotten to it will continue to seek it and thus associate humans with it. Capturing and relocating them does not work. They cannot be retrained and released successfully. They will attempt to find humans and their garbage, again. This makes for potential human danger. Therefore they are usually caught and put down.
5. A sighted bear when approached usually with take the same direction away that he came in on. However, if that exit is blocked by the human(s) he may feel fear and react accordingly. This could have been the case if my wife had stepped out on the porch blocking his exit.
6. Sows with cubs are 'death waiting to happen'.
7. The best thing to give a wild bear is distance..lots of it...not something to eat!


03-24-2007, 08:14 PM
great post! I can't believe you posted this today, because last night I was reading through some old threads and read the one where you said you had killed a bear on your porch. I wanted to ask you about it, and here you've posted it! about once a year I read about some bear attacks just to scare myself. I usually don't worry about em too much unless I'm backcountry by myself. then I get a little spooked out. I know a woman was killed last year at deep creek, an area I fish often. I just might have to break down and buy some bear spray this year. I saw at least 10+ bears last year; all from the safety of my vehicle. I've only had a trail encounter once. it was at elkmont, about 2 miles up the trail. there were 2 of them about 10 yards or so from me on the side of the trail. I just kept walking down the trail past them, like I didn't notice and they just curiously stared at me.

03-24-2007, 09:32 PM

Thanks for telling your story. After reading Trevor's reply I think I recall reading that you had been forced to kill a bear. It is obvious you did everyone in your area a huge favor and your advice is right on the money. I'll bet your wife was very cautious for a few weeks going out at night.

About 6 years ago we were in Michigan's Upper Peninsula brook trout fishing. We asked the owner of the lodge where we were staying if there was any chance of seeing bears. He directed us to an ice cream shop on the shore of Lake Superior where bears were spotted nightly. If you wanted to park there and watch for bears there was a requirement to make an ice cream purchase which we did. The lady that owned the shop began slamming bear hunters as soon as we asked about seeing any bears that night. On and on about how cruel hunters were and these poor bears..blah...blah...blah. I held my piece not commenting much as she went on and on.

Finally around dusk a very large boar came ambling up to the back door of the shop. The guy working with the woman stepped outside the door not 24 inches from the bear's head and began pouring ice cream into a dog food bowl. People with small children began climbing out of their cars for pictures and the like not the least bit concerned about their safety. Guess what, the bear already had an orange tag in each ear indicating he had been trapped and moved twice due to causing problems around people. This is what we were told after asking about the tags. If the DNR was called in for this bear again he would be killed.

Apparently the UP is overpopulated with bears in many areas. Hunters only help control the population providing sport for them and revenue for the state. While the crazy lady could only belittle hunters she was causing the real problem for not only the bears but for every resident of the area. She was also profitting from the very animals she created the problem with resulting in their death. You would think people living in that area would have a better knowledge of wildlife and the problems caused by humans interacting with them in this manner.

Your 7 points for avoiding problems are exactly right. I do love seeing bears, from a very safe distance! Once again, thanks for sharing your story.

Wishin' I wuz fishin', g <*))))><

Paula Begley
03-24-2007, 09:44 PM
There is a really great bumper sticker out there that reads:

Garbage Kills Bears

No truer words...

The worst thing I have ever seen with bears was in Cades Cove. Byron and I were riding our bicycles around the loop road. The cherry trees that line the road were loaded with succulent fruit. A momma was in one tree munching away, while 2 babies were in the next tree eating too. Of course, there was a "bear jam"...traffic was stopped and people were out of their cars taking photos. Underneath the tree where the two cubs were, a husband was holding up a very small child...within feet of one of the cubs, so the wife could take a picture of their baby with the baby bears. :rolleyes:

I shake my head in amazement every time I think of that incident.


03-25-2007, 01:03 AM
Nice post. I was just looking at bear spray a few days ago. It was $50 for the canister, and I didn't get it. I didn't worry too much about bears until I came across one (very close) that was standing in the middle of a small stream I was fishing last November. He ran when he saw me, but it was an experience I won't forget.

03-25-2007, 06:14 PM
that bumper sticker is available in the park stores.

03-25-2007, 10:31 PM
That canister is good for several years, then even old ones only have the spray propellant distance reduced. We have several canisters, one for my wife's car, one under our bed at home. We keep one in our camper and when I'm alone I keep one in my tent. It "might" be cheap insurance???
Was a woman killed at Deep Creek last year? Or is this confused with the Teacher from Cosby who was killed 6 or so years ago above Elkmont? There was a child killed last spring south of the park toward Chattanoga(I think)?
Spending several weeks every other year in the Wyo/Mont backcountry, I'm no stranger to bears. I am more "CONCERNED about our Smoky Mt. black bears(who are no longer wild) than the Brown Furries around Yellowstone.

03-26-2007, 01:54 AM
I know for a fact that I read from whatever source a fresh story about a woman being killed at deepcreek last year. I remember it specifically being deepcreek because I remember getting kind of spooked out because I often walk a few miles back in there by myself to fish. now that you asked, I went online trying to find some info about it, and all I found was the story about that teacher at elkmont. her story sounds exactly like the one I read. maybe I'm really confused, but I know I read a story last year about a woman being killed at deep creek. does anyone know, did it happen? did I read a misquoted story? or am I just dreaming?

Jack M.
03-26-2007, 07:01 AM
You could be recalling this:


03-27-2007, 01:02 AM
I think they might be two different incidents. The one at Chilhowee recieved alot of national attention. I remember when that happened because Chilhowee is on the other side of the mountain on Hwy 30 when you take the bridge across the Hiwasse by Webbs store. And I remember going fishing up there and alot of TWRA trucks were driving the roads and even saw one carring a large bear trap.

Alot of the rumors that I heard going around Cleveland after the attack was that all of the problem bears that had been trapped and moved to a new location, were taken near the Hiwassee and Chilhowee/Ocoee areas. I cant remember if I read or heard from someone that this had been going on for the past 5-7 years.

03-27-2007, 05:20 PM

great story, I also remember when you posted that you once had to shoot a bear and was wanting to hear the whole story. You don't remember th GW's name do you, it wasn't Clure was it? He's a Sevier Co. GW, also the resident bear expert. I met him about a month ago at a bowhunter education course. Great guy, makes me feel better knowing people like him are out there protecting our resources.

03-28-2007, 01:06 PM

Indeed, the game warden was Mitch Clure! TWRA and we are fortunate to have Mitch serving our area. He not only did his follow-up job thoroughly and courteously but was more than willing to teach me a lot about my incidence and share other typical bear actions and habits while here which I shared with you in my 'Big, bad, bear story'.