We hear a shuffling, then see a movement in front of us, a shape on the boulder less than five feet from us. A furry foot is reaching from the rock to the deck. A big furry foot. Attached to a bear. Seems he’s planning on coming onto the deck.
“Shoo!” I shout. Seriously, this works on black bears. He probably weighs three times as much as me, even though he is fairly small—he looks like he is only a year or two old. Plus he has some pretty serious claws going on. Still, he runs away when I yell at him. He trundles up the hill toward the shed then stops, turns, and looks at me, wondering if I am serious. “Shoo!” I shout again, clapping my hands. This time he lumbers all the way to the road. He stays there and watches us. I yell at him again. He stays put.
He’s the mangy fellow who has invited himself to be our neighbor, moving in within throwing distance of the cabin, in a cove of trees that dips into the creek. His coat is dirty beige and looks like the stuffing from a 100-year-old mattress. But he usually leaves us alone. When we work outside, he calmly grazes in the grass just yards away from us, barely paying attention to us. Until now, we’ve not appeared to be worth his time.
I shout at him again. “Get out of here!” He looks at me. Shrugs. “Shoo! Get!” He finally bumbles down the road, muttering to himself, his ratty butt swaying with each step.
The next morning, we find a muddy paw print right next to our door, facing the cabin. The other print is about five feet up the wall. We measure them: 6.5 inches. Smaller than the bear we saw, so it was probably a different one. After that, we lock the door at night.