Hiking over a hill between two little bays I followed the tracks of a large black bear. The game trail was heavily forested with Sitka Spruce, Western Red Cedar and Alder. Thick brush and ferns and some Devil’s Club covered everything. As always the best path was along the little streams.
I walked slowly so as not to surprise the bear in the thick brush. At one point I was so close that I stopped and knelt on one knee to watch water trickle into one of his back foot tracks. I slowed down and took a moment to make sure my rifle was clean and loaded. It was always loaded. I always checked anyway.
There is a common tale that you can smell a bear from a distance. At least in the wild that does not seem to be true.
In the late afternoon I emerged from the forest where the little stream and game trail entered the ocean. The stream had steep sides. One side had a cliff about twenty feet above the water and I chose that side to look for the bear.
Below me the bear was in the water swimming for his dinner. I spoke softly to him and asked what he was doing as if he would answer. He pretended not to know I was there and slowly swam to the shoreline. After shaking the water off like a dog, he stopped and looked my direction. It is that moment that is always most dangerous. Seeing that I was above him he slowly turned and walked into the brush. Then when he could no longer see me he ran a few yards. I lost track of him but knew he had not gone far.
After waiting a few minutes I fired my rifle in the air to encourage him to move along. He did and I climbed down the cliff and walked along the shoreline until my partner came with the canoe to take me back to camp.