Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bleed 'n' Bear It, But Around Claws Do Not Bare it

Anyone brave enough, or bored enough, to have read my scribblings here and there over the years, knows I have always been a hiker and a walker. In my youth I even did some camping out in nature, but not so much as an adult. The last time I camped out in a tent, where I nearly froze to the forest floor, was around 1990.  Now I will admit that I am probably not the most qualified to write what I am about to write on, kind of on safely hiking through the woods or at least approaching animals, considering my own lack of safety preparations. First of all I pretty much always go hiking along and I can be a bit of a risk taker, especially when taking a photo. Up until the end of last year I never carried a cell phone.  I do now. I tried in the summer of 2015 to carry water along, something I also never did, but I still have trouble remembering to do so. I have never sprayed on any insect repellant nor to I carry any weapon such as a knife. Of course, due to me current ALS situation, I do use a walking stick of sufficient thickness to knock the stuffings out of most attackers. 

My dress hinges on the temperature rather than the roughness of anything in the immediate woodland environment  as the picture at the beginning attests.  My total warm weather attire consists of a short-sleeve T-shirt, shorts, top-of-the-shoe sized socks, sneakers and my hat. Such an outfit doesn't much protect against bruises, scratches and Stinging Thistle, let alone any angry beasts. It does help keep one from cooking under the summer sun, although not so much from burning There is a TV show on cable called, "Naked and Afraid", in which a man
and a woman try to survive several days in the wild without any clothing whatsoever. I've said the naked part wouldn't bother me, but no way I would go out there without shoes.  Raw nature can be brutal on the feet and there is no way you want to hike the backcountry with sore tootsies. My cold weather attire becomes a bit more complex, a bunch of layers to keep me toasty.

Anyway, wandering about in field and forest you sometimes
encounter a beast of varied sizes. Besides snakes and toads and birds, most are furry with four legs. There are squirrels, but I encounter those everyday in my backyard raiding the bird feeder. These have included occasional chipmunks, many rabbits, a rare groundhog or two, raccoons, deer (alone or in herds), foxes and one coyote. 

These are all common hereabouts and generally not much of a threat; although, I give them the rightaway and their space any time. For the most part they dash away, dash away all when they see you, except the deer who have a habit of freezing in place and
pretending to be invisible. I've had deer step out and become a statue only a few feet from me. I then become a statue myself. We have a tendency to think, ain't Bambi cute, but with the right provocation, Bambi could rear up and hoof throttle you to a fair thee well. And you sure don't want to get Bambi's daddy angry with you, cause he got hoofs and he got horns.

I have never run into the alleged Delaware Cougar or a stray Bear. Nor do I want to. Now the Cougar is controversial as to whether it exists or not, but there are possible bears, probably after crossing the Twin Bridges out of Jersey. For some reason there have been quite a number of bear encounters in the Garden State.

What amazes me is whenever in Jersey or elsewhere bears or other large animals appear people go grabbing their camera or iPhone and try to find the beast for a selfie. Get too close to some of these and people might use your selfie as your obituary photo. You don't want to fool about with wild animals.

A few years ago we took a trip to Virginia and near the Natural
Bridge was a safari park. You drove your car through and got up close and personal with a slew of hulking bodies. Stay in your car, was the watch word. It also should have declared "keep the beasts outside your car", as well. There was a van just ahead of us, a family with children, and they didn't seem to realize the danger of inviting a Bison to share the ride (notice the open door policy). They let Buffalo Bob climb halfway into the backseat. My wife and I feared for their lives.

We were having our own problems with a persistent Ostrich who wouldn't pull his head out of our window. You see, you could feed these animals and he was after more food. My wife was scared to death of the bird, but she kept pulling the bucket toward me luring it further into the car forgetting Ostriches have long necks.

Now think about those bear visitations in South Jersey. I remember the authorities put out warnings to people of what to do if they stumbled upon Yogi, and it wasn't get your selfie stick ready. If you come face to face with the bruin, don't run. Put your arms up above your head and make your self look bigger than you are. Yeah, I'm certain Mr. Bear would be highly impressed.

The American Black Bear stands from 5 to 7 feet high when
on their hind legs and they average 400 pounds and up to 600. That was good advice about running 'cause you aren't going to outrun it. They can reach speeds of 35 miles per hour, which is 7 miles an hour faster than Usain Bolt has ever clocked, and they can do it for more than 100 meters. It's doubtful you're going to out foot the beast. They can climb trees, too, so that limits your escape choices.

Maybe a good slap would scare him off, but if it doesn't and he slaps back, well there goes half your face. He has strong paws and long sharp claws.

And if the paws don't tear you
up, the jaws probably will. Those teeth were made for ripping you apart.

Now think about it. 

You know we have several cats and have had many over the last 3 decades. You look at these cutie pie little cats and consider them no threat. 
Average cat probably weighs 10 to 12 pounds, less than a tenth of the average human. Why you could pick up a cat and fling it across the room...only before you fling you might get bloodied.

Cats have retractible nails. They are like miniature versions of the X-man Wolverine. Their claws feel like needles and can rip like razors, and a cat is lightening fast. I know. I've shed a lot of blood over the years. I've had cat cuts on much of my body from face to foot. Once trying to put a cat in a carrier for a vet visit I was practically disemboweled. It left several long cuts across my stomach, even though I had been wearing a shirt. 

Don't think in a bear attack you'd get off with some superficial
cuts and a little blood. So don't go up to one of these creatures with a camera and say cheese because it will probably mistake you for the cheese and an easy snack. 

The wrestling match Leonardo
Dicaprio has with Ol' Ephraim (as Trappers use to call Grizzlies) is pretty scary, but no less than the bear attack in "Backcountry", where the results are far more devastatingly realistic. The scene in "the Revelant" used a lot of computer generated action and a man in a bear suit; "Backcountry used real bears, so its attack is created by fast cuts, but is no less frightening. Hate to be a spoiler here, but the result of this match do not end well for the man. This guy wasn't going to crawl off  'cause there isn't a lot left of him. The director debated how far to go and choose not to sugarcoat what your reality would be if you took on a bear mano to mano. 

By the way, both movies are based on true stories, with some literary license taken. If "The Revelant" had shown the true account of Trapper Hugh Glass' life no one would have believed it. The screenwriters and director had to tone it down. (Hugh Glass pictured on right. Look up his life.)

In the case of "Backcountry" they built up a lot of the pre-encounter tension and they switch the gender of the couple. 

When the real-life Canadian couple, Jacqueline Perry and Mark Jordan, were attacked it was the woman dragged away. Jordan managed to fight the bear off with a knife, not the giant toad sticker Leonardo wielded, but a Swiss Army Knife that apparently has a bear stabbing blade included among the tools. He managed to get her into their canoe and paddle to help, but she died in the canoe.

Yeah, I see the stories from people that we can live peacefully
amidst lions and tigers and gorilla if we just show we mean no harm and they can trust us (must be Democrats). I don't advise attempting it. These are wild animals and unpredictable. They can turn at anytime, even ones that have been "domesticated" as pets. Just ask Siegfried and Roy.   (Right, Roy Horn after tiger attack.)

1 comment:

  1. And then there are skunks. Not to mention the occasional rabid raccoon. Be careful on those walks Lar!