Last edited by canoe; 02-18-2013 at 08:31.
In 34 years of backcountry travel, I've only had two bear encounters. I worked on the State of PA's bear program for six years, so as long as I keep a clean camp, black bears don't really bother me. I'm used to their behavior and like to think I understand them, unless they are habituated bears, which tend to not get scared off too easy.
I've had a close moose encounter, where I ended up closer to one than I would have liked to.
But the scariest times have been weather related. Straight line winds and riding out a hurricane on the side of a mountain stuck in a tent for 2.5 days.
The straight line winds and fast moving storms of the upper midwest have given me more of those "OH S*#@" moments than anything. At least I had time to set up for Hurricane Floyd.
I was camping with my wife and kids at my my favorite mountain lake, we had been there for two days and the fishing and weather had been prefect. We had the rest of the day to fish before packing up to head home and I was out on the water and hollered to the wife to grab me a beer from the cooler. She went around the trailer and I heard the most unearthly scream, I sat straight up in my kayak as she came running back around the trailer and yelled, "holy ---- , we're out of beer!". Scariest day in the woods for me no doubt!
While hiking up Camel's Hump in Vermont, I came across a section of trail which not only had plenty of bear scat, but also the strong musky smell I've noticed where they have bedded down.
Now, in New England, we have black bears. Most of my encounters with them have been at a safe distance, and generally their response to noticing me, they charge - and always in the trees AWAY from me. Black bear attacks are quite rare, but sometimes, when there is a rustling in the bushes - you forget this, the adrenaline surges, and it is hard to remember that running is a poor choice.
Somehow, probably because I couldn't muster my legs to run more than any proper training, I looked around - hoping for no cubs and trying to look for futile exit plans. I began talking out loud, as calmly as I could, "everything is fine", and walking slowly backwards down the trail.
I kept tapping my poles together while I walked, and with each tap, the rustling on the left side of the trail got closer. My heart is racing by the time I see black fur in the bushes about 5 feet from me. I don't realize I've stepped in the bear crap because I'm desperately thinking of how not to become it. "Everything is fine", the mantra shakily continued.
Suddenly, the beast leapt out of the trees, my heart stood still - and then it barked at me, tail wagging.
My bear... turned out to be a friendly black lab.
To say I was relieved would be the understatement of the year. I could even feel good about not soiling myself. Then, about a minute or so after everything settled down, my legs and knees started shaking so much I had to sit down for about ten minutes. After that, I was fine. Tagged the summit and headed home without incident. Certainly a memorable hike.
Let's see.. was it the bear that came up beside my hammock and peeked in? No... Was it the rattler I faced after pulling myself up a rock ledge? No... Ah. It was finding myself on a series of balds that had trails running in 50 directions and the fog was so thick I could barely see my outstretched hand. You don't realize how much you use the surrounding area as a guide until you can't see it. Most exciting hike out ever.
Like Lorax, I've encountered too many bears to count in my years working in the bush. Never had a bad experience with them.
One October, working about 250 km North of here, I was walking through a large clearcut with my dog, heading to where I had to do a survey. Heard a strange noise behind me, turned around to see the rack of a very large bull moose about 15 feet behind me and closing fast. Even my dog hadn't heard it until it was on top of us. She immediately perked up and wanted to play. I grabbed her by the collar and quickly walked to a 6-7' high boulder and put it between us. After walking around it several times pursued by the bull, he decided I was too puny to bother with and wandered away. Took quite a while for my nerves to settle down.
Second scariest was when fishing. Standing knee deep in the McKenzie River. Looked down just as a full grown beaver swam right over my feet. I **** near jumped out of my skin, but somehow managed to not move. I watched him swim away, looked back down just as his mate swam by in the exact same spot. You don't appreciate their size until they're occupying the same space as you.
I spooked a beaver with my dog while fishing once... My dog is a 75 lb pit bull mix and the beaver looked bigger. That was my first and only encounter with one (I don't think they're very common here) but I had no idea how big they were until that day.
"We're the Sultans of Swing."
Last summer had a long day of hiking and hit the hay pretty darn early. Stupidly i had left some tasty beef jerky in my pocket and woke up in the middle of the night hearing sniffing and something nipped my butt. I was scared to death and sounded like it causing my father to wake up. Well anyways I couldn't fall asleep for the rest of the night and now learned to remember to discard all snacks from your hammock. But still to this day I have no idea what the animal was.
I am not nearly as experienced as many here as far as time out in the woods, but I had a good scare last September in Stone Mountain State Park in NC. Me and my buddy had set up by a creek in a primitive campsite in the park. We woke up about 4 am to the sound of three coyotes howling about 100 yds. from us it seemed. I had never heard anything like it before. I figured chances are they wanted nothing to do with us, but it was unnerving for a few minutes!
About an hour later, we heard banjo music nearby. We packed up and got out of there!
Last edited by Hiknhanger; 02-18-2013 at 15:45.
The only scary thing we have over here is other people
I've woken up in my bivvy with a 3" black slug crawling across the lip of my bag, moments away from leaving slime all over my face no doubt.
I once started setting up in a dark pine wood on a solo trip and felt somebody or something was watching me, the hammock was up and I was about to stake out the tarp but decided to pack up and move on. Found a nice spot five minutes down the track and had one of the best nights out ever for spotting wildlife, nothing exciting just badgers, a deer, a couple of tawny owls and my only ever sighting of a barn owl.