Listen to Your Feelings
I live with my wife in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains
on the West side in the State of Washington, not far from Mt. Rainier.
My wife is an avid horse fan and constantly rides the trails
above our house, often with friends and always taking the dogs along for a
little exercise at the same time. The dogs are always extremely excited while
the women saddle up, knowing they are about to embark on another adventure.
The dogs usually run back and forth across the trail checking
the new scents and exploring the trail ahead.
One day my wife and one of her friends went for a ride out
from our house. The dogs were being very typical in their behavior, running
ahead, diving into the underbrush here and there and checking all the new
About fifteen minutes from the house both dogs disappeared
into the underbrush off of the trail when the two women heard a horrible
growling and both dogs came flying out of the brush, headed back towards home,
past the women, tails tucked, and no interest in continuing their excursion.
The women decided there was a bear in the brush and decided
they should probably leave too. So, home they headed.
About two weeks later my wife and another friend were riding
in the same area with only one dog when they came upon fresh bear tracks. Not
too much farther down the trail the dog froze in the trail ahead and began to
growl, the hair on the back of her neck standing up. So, rather than take any
chances, they decided to head for home again.
I had left for one of Tom's classes early on the same day,
which was Friday, not knowing of this second episode with the bear. I had
shrugged off the first incident with the bear as merely a coincidence.
On the following day, which was Saturday, I began to get an
uneasy feeling. All I seemed to want to do was go home. This concerned me
because usually I can really get into Tom's classes, but this time. I couldn't
really absorb anything he was putting across.
I tried to shrug it off as maybe some bad vibes I was getting
from someone in class or maybe the area.
On Sunday the feeling got worse, so I went to Tom and told him
I was going home because of the feelings I was having.. We talked for some time
trying to figure out what was wrong because Tom had wanted me to stay through
the next week and help with a Standard Class that was coming up.
Tom took me outside, at about 3:00 p.m., and pointed out a
high point in the landscape where I could be alone, overlooking the whole valley
and possibly sort out my thoughts, quiet down internally, and get back into
After arriving at the point and settling down, I began to calm
down quite a bit, but about 6:00pm the feeling came back again. An uneasy
feeling, a feeling that all I wanted to do was to go home.
After fighting this feeling for about half an hour I simply
gave in, drove back to the farm. When I arrived at the farm, Tom I asked if I
felt any better, and I told him I, felt the same, and asked if I could use the
phone. Tom said, "Yes," and I tried to call home, but I didn't get any
answer. I picked up my bedroll and headed for home without saying good-bye to
anyone, which is unusual to say the least.
All the way home, I felt uneasy. I started to get thoughts
about my wife, wondering if maybe she was in trouble. I tried to shrug these
feelings off but they wouldn't go away.
Two hours later I rolled into my driveway. There were lights
on so I was somewhat relieved. I walked into the house and my wife met me at the
door. I asked if she was alright and she said, "Yes, but you won't believe
what happened to me!"
She related what had happened, on Friday and then went on to
tell me that on Saturday the bear had come down within a few yards of the house
and had the horses all stirred up.
Saturday had been the day I began to feel uneasy.
On Sunday evening my wife had gone riding again, by herself,
again taking the dog along. She had headed up the hill and part way up she began
to cut across the face. After traveling about 200 yards across the face of the
hill, she was looking down into a relatively cleared area with a few stumps
which appeared black in the evening light.
She was thinking that this would be a good place to see a bear
when she saw one of the stumps move. The dog picked up the scent of the bear and
froze. The hair bristling on her back, she began to growl.
My wife, deciding to leave, turned the horse around and headed
back across the face of the hill and down the trail back toward the house. Part
way down the hill the dog stopped and wouldn't. go any farther. It was apparent
that the bear had cut across the side of the hill to intercept her and was
waiting out of sight beside the trail.
Deciding she was going home come hell or high water, she
kicked her horse in the ribs and went down hill at a full gallop, never daring
to look back.
This happened Sunday between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m.
After relating this story to me, I decided that I should go
check this out and see if maybe the bear had simply by coincidence run the same
way my wife had, or if it might be a real threat to people.
I called my friend Dave and we decided that Monday evening we
would go out after work to see what we could find. We decided to take our rifles
just in case.
I called Tom Monday at noon and told him the story arid he
reaffirmed the idea that we should take our rifles. He was also relieved to know
that my uneasiness was not a result of anybody at the farm.
Monday evening after work at about 5:30 p.m. my wife, Dave,
and myself all headed up to see if we could figure out what we had to deal with.
My initial thoughts were that the bear had merely decided to run or avoid man
and had just happened to have run the same way as my wife in his effort to
escape, and when she came down the hill had merely cut him off and he hid in the
brush to avoid detection. I thought if we could find the bear and he ran off we
could be fairly sure that he wouldn't bother anyone.
My wife took us up to where his tracks were and on first
inspection it appeared it was a small bear. A little more looking turned up
stumps and logs he had ripped open in his quest for food.
As the tracks we had were a couple of days old we decided to
follow some other trails, making a big circle back to the truck to see if we
could cut fresh signs. After making a full circle up the hill and back down to a
place near the truck, the trail branched off and headed down hill to the house.
After not having cut any fresh sign, up higher in the salmon berries where he
should have been this time of year, we decided to go down and check out the
skunk cabbage, another favorite spring food of bears.
My wife went to get the truck and was going to meet us at the
bottom of the hill. After having gone only about 50 yards, the dog started
sniffing the air but not really acting strange as my wife had indicated she
would if the bear was near. There was virtually no wind that night so it would
be difficult for the dog to pickup a scent unless it crossed the trail.
At the same time, the dog started testing the air I noticed
bear tracks leading up hill off the trail. The tracks looked fresh but the woods
were so damp it was hard to tell for sure. I decided I would follow the tracks
uphill while Dave went down the trail, which at this point was generally
crossing the slope. I'd only gone up the game trail about fifteen yards and Dave
fifteen yards when I heard a noise in the brush between Dave and I.
I thought it could be the dog but decided to get a better look
when Dave, seeing the dog on the trail, said that there was something in there.
I didn't reply but crept up the trail about 2 or 3 more yards when I saw the
bear, hiding behind a tree watching Dave and woofing at him. The bear hadn't
seen me yet.
The rest was pure instinct. My gun came up and I fired two
shots in two seconds from my Marlin 444. The first bullet caught the bear at I
the base of the neck in back. He turned and faced me instantly with as fierce a
look on his face as I ever care to see on anything's face. He then went into an
instant frenzy, expending an incredible amount of energy in the five seconds it
took from the time the bullet struck him until he lay dead.
Upon closer examination by Dave, myself, and consulting with
Tom and others it was apparent that this bear did represent a real danger to
both people and livestock.
It was evident upon examination of the bear's feet that he had
recently come from high rock country several miles away to the lower land around
our home. He had the smell of sickness in him and was apparently off his normal
feed of berries and skunk cabbage. His head carried many scars. It is assumed
that he was driven out of his territory by a younger, stronger bear.
In this frame of mind he would be quite dangerous as he would
be willing to fight anything or anybody. He would also be willing to accept an
easy meal of flesh.
I guess the incredible part of this story is that I was able
to detect either/or both my wife's fear or her very real danger while 100 miles
I don't know how it happened or why it happened, I'm just
thankful it did.
My only regret is that I tried to read something else into it
rather than just accepting it and flowing with that inner voice telling me to go
home because I was needed there.