Tips on how to survive a bear in the woods

Summer seemed to come on full force quickly this year. In the latter part of spring gobbler season, foliage was so lush it was hard to pick a spot that would afford a good look at an approaching gobbler.

Summer means all sorts of fun and activities but for outdoorsmen and women, it also presents various types of nuisances and dangers. First on the list, I suppose is bears.

The day before the gobbler season ended, my hunting buddy, Joanie Haidle, told me of the black bear that suddenly appeared less than 10 yards away from her in the woods. A bear that close always makes the heart thump a bit faster but she knew what to do. She froze and the bear just sauntered away.

A few years ago, I had two bears come out of the Russian Olive thicket and one was actually sniffing at the back of my blind. No doubt it was trying to sort out the smells of insect repellent and peanut butter sandwiches. One swat would have collapsed that blind with me in it. When I stuck my head out the front window of the blind both bears took off like black rockets.

Summer is the breeding season for black bears. That means that the yearling bears are now no longer welcome with Mama and she chases them away. The confused young bears often flee for their lives as Mama and perhaps her male escort chases them violently.

Often, as they search for a new place to call home, bears find themselves in a populated area, even downtown. This, of course, causes people who happen to see them to get excited and chase them and then run to alert everyone in sight that there is a bear in the neighborhood.

The excited bear runs up the nearest tree – as his mother taught him to do when faced with danger – and the usual outcome is that Wildlife professionals have to come in and tranquilize it and transport and release it into some nearby woods.

But to keep bears from coming up on your back porch means you have to do or not do certain things. Bears follow their noses to food, which they can detect from a mile or more away. So if you leave an uncleaned grill outside, or your garbage out for collection in the morning, or Fido’s food dish on the back porch, don’t be surprised if a bear finds it and rips it apart and returns again expecting to find more. Bird feeders are among their favorite finds and they make short work of them when they chance upon them.

Ticks are an ugly, invasive nuisance that can attach themselves to your body and remain for days undetected. Some ticks carry Lyme disease so you want to keep the pests from doing their dirty work. I hunted this spring gobbler season and did not get one tick on my gear or me. I use a spray called Permathrim which you can get locally at sporting good stores, Walmart and such stores. But it must be used according to directions. This particular spray must not ever be sprayed directly on the skin. Read and follow the directions carefully and you will find this to be your best ally for tick prevention this summer during camping, fishing or hiking trips.

To remove a tick use curved forceps or tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight back gently but firmly, using steady force. Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick. Its fluids may contain infectious agents. Disinfect the skin thoroughly and wash hands with soap and water.

West Nile Virus has been found in Pennsylvania and the agent for carrying that disease is the common mosquito. So it will be to your benefit to check your property carefully for any place that water can collect. Mosquitoes will find any source of standing water and lay their eggs in it. Some places to look for are buckets or pots, such as flower pots, that were left in the rain and so have some water in them. Old tires are notorious breeding places for mosquitoes, rain barrels, any crack or crevice where water can collect will attract mosquitoes.

Wear an insect repellent containing Deet when enjoying outside activities. Not just outside your house such as at a cookout, picnic or an evening in the glider on the front porch but also when you go to outdoor activities such as a ball game, concert, swimming and so on.

Rabid animals are always a threat, especially for young children. Any wild animal you see, that appears to have lost is natural fear of man, who seems placid and lets you approach it closely without making an attempt to escape is very possibly rabid. Never let your kids pet or hold such an animal.

Foresight and common sense can keep us from a lot of trouble. And, believe me, it can happen to you.