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3flies 02-17-2006 11:35 AM

Black Bear Encounters
 
Has anyone had any close calls with the bears in the park? I was fishing in Greebrier one November and had pulled off the road well above the paved road. As I exited my truck I started down to the water when I noticed a big black bear about the same time he or she noticed me. I headed back to the truck as the bear headed back into the woods. We were about 20 yards away from each other when we both decided to leave the area. It was the biggest bear I had ever seen in the park!

Waterborn 02-17-2006 12:00 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
Thanksgiving before last I was fishing a stretch of the Little River when people were stopping along the road doing the pointing and jumping out of the car with a camera thing. At first, I though it was because they were admiring my perfect casts to rising fish ;D but it turned out that there were a pair of cubs just ahead of me about 20 yards away...they were scrambling around, playing and climbing a tree that was over hanging the water.
I sat and watched them for a moment as I was standing mid stream, and then that feeling came over me - where was the momma bear? As I turned around, I found her sitting behind me on the shore not more than a couple of rod lengths away. Basically the water seperated us, but I just sat there looking at her and she at me as she was sniffing the air trying to figure me out.
She wasn't very big. Maybe 75 - 100lbs if that...but regardless, no one would ever want to be inbetween a mother bear and her cubs. So I calmly waded back to the other side and she eventually called her cubs and they scurried up the hill. They didn't leave though, they spent the better part of a couple of hours no more that 50 yards away from the waters edge. After the nerves calmed, I figured I stay and continue...it hard to leave rising fish. Though it was some what harder to keep one eye on the fly and the other to the hillside....

Waterborn

3flies 02-17-2006 12:04 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
Good read Waterborn. Does anyone remember the last death by Black Bear inside the park?

Woody 02-17-2006 01:36 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
Bears, I've seen more then my fair share. Never have had a problem. If you don't bother them they will leave you alone. I have only seen one agressive bear and she was running away from a group of kids that were chasing her. The problem are the tourist who put themselves and there children at risk, truly unbelivable. Ive also seen some very big bears in the park, 350 to 400 pounds and 3 to 4 feet at the front shoulders. I was driving back from the chimmy tops one night and saw one roll out of the woods onto the road. It walked right up to my car a looked me square in the eyes. That was one big dude.

Gek 02-17-2006 03:10 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
The last death by a bear must have been May of 2000...I think. Husband and wife were hiking up Little River trail. Husband hiked on without his wife, who wanted to wait back and hang out by the river. He came back and she had been mauled and partially eaten by a very aggressive bear (I don't remember if she had cubs with her). I think this same bear had been a nuisance in some of the surrounding campgrounds shortly before the death. I was dayhiking Little River Trail up to campsite 30 in May 2004 (same time of year) when I happened upon a mother and her cub camping out on the trail. Had to wait them out, but you better believe the story from a year before was running through my head. After about 15 minutes of waiting by myself, a park ranger came up the trail behind me. He had a large shovel with him. It's nice to know that he was ready to bury me 6 feet under if he had to. Ha. I saw 7 bears out on the trails in 2004, most of which ran away after seeing me, just don't get in between mom and her cubs. Trust me. A friend and I must have been the fastest ever to hike Rich Mtn Trail after making that mistake. All I know is that mama bear was up in a tree with us between her cubs and she wasn't happy. Heard a rustle up in the tree and a boom on the ground when she came down. We didn't wait around to see what she wanted.

Has anyone else seen the movie Grizzly Man? That guy was a nutcase. Can't fault him for being passionate, but he was definitely not all there.

Hawgdaddy 02-18-2006 12:40 AM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
Very interesting stories. I get up to the Smokies on average about 5 times a year these days both for vacation and for the fishing. I've only seen 3 bears during all that time, and believe it or not they all came on one trip. My brother and I were on our first back country fly fishing trip. We saw bears on the West Prong Trail, Little River Road, and Porter Creek Trail. By far the closest was a large male on Porter Creek Trail. We were in an area with heavy undergrowth. Out of no where this bear crashed out right in front of us, about 10 yards away. He stared us down for a moment while we froze in shock. Then he dismissed us and ambled on off into the woods, vanishing as quickly as he had appeared. I'll always remember that moment.

hawgdaddy

3flies 02-18-2006 02:07 AM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
That was close. Too close for comfort in my book! I have been going to the park since I was a child. First with my parents then as a teenager looking for fun, then as an adult to hike, camp and fish. Many times we would go a couple of times a week. In 47 years I bet I have seen more than 15 or 20 bears. It seems that the only time they become a problem is when people feed them or they become too old or sick to eat naturally. Of course you never want to get between mom and cubs. Still it is very intimidating to come face to face with an animal that is powerful enough to kill you!

WRN 02-18-2006 10:17 AM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
ALL OF MY BEAR ENCOUNTERS HAVE BEEN IN NORTH CAROLINA. DEEP CREEK AND SANTEEHLA CREEK. THE DEATH IN THE PARK WAS FROM A SOW AND A PUNK BEAR THAT WAS WITH HER. I DO NOT THINK THEY TRIED TO EAT THE VICTIM BUT THEY WOULD NOT LEAVE AND THAT WAS ONE REASON WHY THEY WERE KILLED. IT WAS AROUND FISHCAMP PRONG. ALSO READ THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE SO CALLED GRIZZLY MAN, HE LIKED CERTAIN CHEMICALS.

Gek 02-19-2006 03:13 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
I've found that the best way to keep bears from attacking YOU is to smear peanut butter on your fishing partners pant leg or camping partners tent. And always make sure you aren't the slowest runner in the group. Ha.

http://www.southeasternoutdoors.com/...ar-attack.html

pmike 02-20-2006 01:22 PM

Re: Black Bear Encounters
 
I just celebrated my 50th birthday and have visited the park at least once a year, almost yearly. Over time we have seen a few bears in some interesting situations. Last year while fishing along the road along Elkmont i began noticing different animal tracks streamside. I first saw some prints by what appeared to have been a bobcat or lynx. The prints were wet and had almost perfect outlines on a couple of streamside rocks. As I continued fishing downstream i looked down and there were big paw prints in the mud, apparently bear prints and you could see the outline as well as some scratch marks. I figured they could be old prints, but as I continued looking there were some similar fresh and still wet looking prints on surrounding rocks leading away. I looked for a bear, but it had apparently left before I had seen it. How much earlier I don't know which caused me to wonder how many times bears see us without us having much of clue they were even there.

Asa kid I recall the drive and stop process when you'd see folks parked and standing with cameras in hand, universal signal for bear :) Once when my parents pulled off to get footage on the Kodak Super 8, this big ole boar bear was standing with his paws inside a 55 gal trash barrel. In a few minutes he stood back and withdrew his paws with what looked akin to flypaper. As he continued to wrestle with it, it turned out to be a bumber sticker and as he seperated his paws you could read it. The funny part was the sticker read, "See Rock City".

Mike


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