The Bear Facts

Help me welcome Slim Randles as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a few words of caution about bears, assuming you might live near, or visit, a place where a bear might stumble upon you, or you, it. Keep in mind that this is a more serious offering than his usual fun stuff from the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. Bear encounters are serious business

I haven’t seen any bears recently, but we did play a fun game at the kids drama camp this weekThe Bears are Coming. The kids enjoyed the game, and so did the camp leader who was quite ferocious as a bear.

Bears like honey, and so do we, so lets have one of my favorites – biscuits with honey – to snack on while reading Slim’s post.


Well, the bears are out now and will be until late fall, so maybe a bear tip might be in order. As a guide and outfitter emeritus – and emeritus is Latin for “I’m too danged old to pack moose meat out on my back” I’ll talk a bit about ol’ ursus.

If you’re in dangerous bear country, some people tell you to wear a little bell that tinkles, and the bear hears this and says, “Oh, that must be a person, and I’ll bet it’s a nice person, too, so I’ll just amble off this way.”

Well, when I’m in thick cover that bears might inhabit, and I’m not looking for one, I make a lot more noise than that!

One time Jim Kershner and I were going through some willow thickets along a creek at the base of Mt. McKinley … which is a large frozen rock that is now called Denali, and the salmon were running. I was in the lead, and Jim was behind me, beating on a gold pan with a rock. I looked down and saw a four-pound salmon flopping in the trail in front of me. It had toothmarks about four inches apart. And, it was on top of a bear track that measured 10 inches across. I measured it later. Much later.

A little guide translation here: A 10-inch-wide bear track means a nine-foot long bear.

Well, Jim and I went up one side of that creek and two big sows and a yearling went up the other side. Then we sat there snorting at each other.

So is that bell a good idea? Sure, if you don’t have anything as loud as the London Philharmonic with you.

But the bottom line is: if you’re out messing around in the same country with grizzlies, or with black bears during small cub season or a salmon run, you always ALWAYS carry a rifle.  A .30-06 is a good minimum caliber.

NOTE: Keep in mind that Slim is an avid outdoors-man and hunter. The rest of us might want to hire the orchestra.


Dave Marash’s in-depth HERE & THERE podcasts keep you hooked on today’s big news. Listen on

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us here.

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