Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bears and more bears at Killbear by J.C. Kavanagh

The Twisted Climb - BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
Camping is always an adventure. At least it is when I camp. Reserving at a campground called 'Killbear' should be the first indicator of what might be in store during your camping vacation. Not killing bears, of course (though I don't know why they would call it Killbear) - but dealing with bears. Big, medium and small. Bears during the day. And bears bears bears at night.

Don't be spooked. They usually just pass through, unless of course, you have foolishly abandoned your site, leaving a feast-fit-for-a-bear on the table.

And you have ignored this sign:

Notice the white sign with red lettering? Active bear in campground. That means a pesky, stubborn, uncooperative bear is lurking in the bush, just waiting for the novice camper to leave food and coolers unattended. Beware. Bears know how to open coolers. They're smart, you know. And they have hands. Or paws/feet, whatever. They can open things.
The black bears found at Killbear Provincial Park, near Parry Sound, Ontario (Canada), are typically shy and only forage at night when you're sleeping. I don't like to think about the fact that a micro-thin piece of nylon tent separates me from the wandering bear(s).
Bear trap - baited with stale Tim-Bit donuts!
A few years ago at Killbear, we were enjoying some beverages around the campfire when we heard the sound of dishes and cutlery and pots clattering together, as if the large Rubbermaid container they were stored in had tipped over.
Sure enough, the tip-over was genuine as was the large, hulking bear with his snout in the bin. I quickly stood up, careful not to spill my wine, and shouted, "GIT!" (I think "GIT" was hill-billy-speak for "Go on now, get going." The word "GIT" could also be attributed to alcohol consumption as one syllable is much easier to pronounce.)
And so with several glasses of 'brave' under my belt, I continued to scold the bear and walked toward it with my glass of wine held high in the air, as if that was my weapon of choice. The bear turned and scrambled away. Oh, but I was not finished. Taking a big gulp, I charged forward, berating the creature at regular intervals: GIT, GIT, GIT!
Oh, I was bold. The hefty black bear scampered ahead of me, much like a child caught with its hand in the cookie jar and refusing to make eye contact. After stalking it for about 50 metres, I stopped. It was dark and I didn't bring my flashlight. A few glasses of brave will only give you so much brave.
I turned and walked back to the glow of the campfire, curious as to what the bear found so irresistible in the bin.
Family members stood around the bin, each with a flashlight in hand. Items were sorted and there it was. The irresistible culprit. A vanilla-scented candle. Seems the son-in-law thought the candle would be a deterrent for mosquitos. He forgot that vanilla scent is an attraction for bears. And family being family, we've never let him forget it.
I'll be camping at Killbear again this year. In fact, as you're reading this, I'll be bear-proofing my site and wishing I had the walls of a sleek, thick-walled trailer.
But not to worry, I shall have my glass (or two) of brave.

Enjoy life!

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb
BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)