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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How I "bear sprayed" my wife on our wedding anniversary

My wife dropped a hint last Sunday at breakfast. “Maybe you should check the camera traps this morning so we can get to the restaurant on time.”

I got the message. It was our 50th wedding anniversary.

It was a little after 8:00 when I finished packing my rucksack, and that’s when I remembered that the only time I ever walked up on a bear was about this time in the morning.

It was a harmless amusement – I could hear mother bear high-tailing it down the slope and splashing across the creek, while her 2 cubs set a record descending a big old Douglas fir. I can still see them backlit in a haze of falling bark and dust. No way were they going to be left behind.

But fate can be ironic, and a fleeting thought -- “Bear mauls senior citizen on 50th wedding anniversary” -- cautioned me to take the bear spray (a birthday gift from my younger daughter).

And how many times has someone pulled their bear spray trigger, found the canister empty, and 
witnessed their deliverance in painfully surreal slow motion? 

I had better test it. 

I pulled the trigger guard and squeezed ever so briefly . . . WOW!

The 10-foot plume of red pepper gas told me it wasn’t a dud.

And a moment later I found myself in the dilute invisible backwash. 

And so did my blinking dog.   

Sneezing and with one runny eye, we beat a hasty retreat into house.

The pepper cloud followed us into the kitchen with the cool air that funnels through the screen door in the morning.   

Suddenly the redhead appeared, “What’s that smell? We’re being gassed!”

“I just tested the bear spray, Sweetie, and it works!” I coughed, “It’s not really THAT bad (cough).  

She hurried off to get a dust mask, and I decided it was time to make our exit. 

The rest of the day was a charm. We encountered no bears, arrived at the restaurant on time, and recounted our bear spray episode for family entertainment.

“He hasn’t changed a bit in 50 years,” said the redhead.

"I’m lucky she still likes me," said the codger.


ViewMan said...

Congrats on your anniversary! Love the post.

Ken Niblett said...

Did you go to the "Black Bear" restaurant in Paradise to celebrate?

3dotter said...

Congrats from a cam trapper in the Netherlands. I love this post as well. Nice!

Jacques Prescott said...

Wearing a bear bell should do the trick and scare the bear away without the smell. Congratulations for your anniversary!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your story. Seriously. It's assuring to know I can relate to some folks, regardless of the current turmoil.
: ) Kt

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thank you, readers. Jacques -- Fred wears a bell, and I am sure the bears mosey away when they hear us coming. We went to CM's , Ken, though BB Diner would have been appropriate.

John W. Wall said...

Thank you for this wonderful story. Now, pretty much no matter what I do wrong on my own anniversaries, I can proudly say, "Yeah, but at least I didn't immerse you in a cloud of bear spray." Or so I hope. Fingers crossed.

Woody Meristem said...

Great tale well told. My very tolerant wife of 52 years had a somewhat similar experience after a canister of pepper spry that I had in the car apparently discharged on one of her gloves not long before she put the gloves on. We're lucky guys for having ladies who put up with pepper spray, snakes in the kitchen and bleaching skulls -- in other words, us.

Congratulations to both of you.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Thanks, Woody -- these ladies knew what they were getting into, and had the managerial skills to deal with it.