Monday, February 26, 2007
The Bear That Wasn't There
About 15 years ago I was elk hunting at my friends property near the Buckhorn Canyon west of Ft. Collins, Colorado. No elk had been seen all week. By Wednesday we were going out just for the exercise. I crossed some very old elk tracks in hard-packed snow. They were a least a couple days old. The snow pack on this ridge was extremely tight as the winds had blown violently the night before. I followed the elk just for something to do and come upon very fresh bear tracks. Very fresh. I thought it might be fun to get a look at this one. I followed the tracks for about a half-mile through pretty open country, a 15 degree incline filled with very skinny trees about eight feet apart. Suddenly the tracks just stopped. The snow was still there, just as before. There was one more step taken by the bear and then nothing. I could see ahead that the tracks didn't pick up again. I carefully walked a 50 yard circuit. I even (sheepishly) looked up into those skinny trees. Nothing. This is hard to believe but it's what happened. Soon after, a dying cousin of mine took comfort from this, but I get only puzzlement.