How a series of hunter missteps led to a near-fatal encounter with nature’s fury
At daybreak, the fear of becoming bear food is replaced with a sense of absolute disbelief that something so crazy could, and did, happen. Things could have gone so differently—the bear could have easily jumped on Micah instead of run away when he began to kick and scream. Taylor and I can only look back and laugh at the near miss, but Micah’s face tells a different story. He is still panicked, and rightfully so.
After some detective work around Micah’s tarp, I again notice the game trail I had established our camp on. It’s hard to tell if the bear was on his nightly patrol and merely stumbled upon Micah and gave him a curious groping, or if it could smell a delightful human burrito drizzled in mule deer blood and was en route to my tent for a midnight snack. Regardless of which way we spin the story, though, we’re just glad everyone still has all of their parts attached.
I’m positive the bear would have climbed the tree and stolen my meat after leaving our camp, so we head for the tree carrying our rifles in case we need to fight off the bear to recover the precious game bags. We are surprised, however, to find the meat untouched.
The rest of the day continues without incident. There’s an opportunity on a second buck, but we fail to seal the deal. Originally, I was to leave with my meat and get back to my family, and the boys were to stay another day to try to get some venison of their own. After last night’s fiasco, however, we decide to hike out together.
As I spend more and more time in the mountains, I realize, I tend to become complacent and drop my guard. But thanks to the stark reminder of the weekend’s close calls, I’ve relearned many lessons, albeit the hard way. Things will be very different next time. I will keep my head in the game, for starters, and I will stay dry and warm. And I definitely won’t give bears any extra reasons to try to eat me—or my friends.
Chris Pryn now owns a complete new set of raingear.