Late fall had settled into the Algonquin Highlands and with it came the first hint of winter. Temperatures had dropped to near zero and there was a crispness in the air which heralds the onset of snow.
The fire in my fireplace was down to embers and the house was beginning to cool. I walked out onto my back deck and stopped short. A large black bear was enjoying a feed of sunflower seeds which I had just placed in the feeder for the flying squirrels.
I turned around and walked back into the house to retrieve my camera and headlight. Stepping back out onto the deck, I was hoping the big black shape would still be munching on seeds.
Turning on the headlight, I focused on the bear and walked to the edge of the deck. I was now within focus distance and trained the camera on him.
He continued to feed unperturbed by my presence and I was able to capture the beautiful animal on digital media.
I know that some would say I am foolish, others may say that I am lucky to be alive. I will respond by saying this.
I was never in danger - the bear never saw me as a threat because I did not allow fear to cloud my actions. Fear is translated by the wild ones as aggression. That in turn causes many issues when chance encounters bring humans into close contact with them.
I have spent a lifetime wandering the forests and I have never had to defend myself against wildlife. Mind you, a moose charged me once, that was my fault.
I am not foolish, I am respectful of the power and grace exhibited by the forest animals. I never place myself in a situation which will trigger a flight or fight reaction.
I do not carry a weapon of any kind for there is no need to do so. I can also say with certainty, you are not on the menu. (Ontario, Canada.) Humans are avoided by the wild ones because they look at us with what could be deemed as disdain. The mere scent of a human will send them into the shadows.
I call this big bear - Paws. His huge paws leave beautiful prints in the mud and I love to track his progress when he shows up on the land which I call home.
Camp and hike properly and you will have no issues. Realize you are the visitor and keep fear well away from your heart. Then, and only then, will you learn the lessons painted on the forest floor.
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