So here I was, reading e-mail and minding my own business when I heard a crash.
Karen was already in bed. "Karen, did you just make something go boom?"
"Did you hear something go boom?"
I went into the kitchen and turned on the outside lights.
Right outside our glass kitchen door was a black bear, munching on sunflower seeds. He'd already destroyed one feeder, and knocked (actually bent) over a post outside that held two feeders, and had cleaned them out (but I don't think he damaged them).
I rushed back to the bedroom. "Karen! Get up! You gotta see this!"
We both went back to the kitchen, and there he was, sticking his tongue in the feeder, sucking out black oil seeds (those Droll Yankee feeders are tough!).
Of course I had my priorities straight. I opened the door and yelled at him, "Stop that! Get out of here!" because I'd heard that bears are afraid of people.
Not this bear.
He sauntered over to the stairs leading to the yard, turned around, and just looked at me.
As I said, I had my priorities straight. "Karen! Grab the camera!" At this point I'm standing on the deck. With the bear. If I had to guess, I'd say he had 50 to 75 pounds on me, plus big claws and much bigger teeth.
I got some pictures (will post tomorrow). He walked off the porch, went over to the big maple tree from which hangs our suet/woodpecker feeder. He stood up on his hind legs, but couldn't reach it. As if he'd done this sort of thing before, he climbed the tree (remember that all the while I'm explaining loudly to this bear that I'd prefer he leave, but I'm laughing all the while, too, so maybe I wasn't too convincing). Anyway, he climbs up to the limb from which the feeder is hanging, and commences to pull the rope up to get to the feeder.
Remember all those things you're taught in camping about hanging your food from a tree to keep the bears out of it? Wouldn't work on this guy.
The rope drapes over a limb, and is tied off on the deck. I grab the other end of the rope, tugging on it, telling him, "Put that down! Get out of here!"
He drops the rope, which by now is in his mouth, huffs and snorts, but climbs back down the tree.
At this point I'm thinking, What do I do? I don't want to shoot it. But, he clearly didn't want to give up his dinner.
Then, from inside the house, from behind the door (where Karen is, wondering what kind of nut she'd married) I hear a rare, but welcome sound. It's Kane, and he begins to bark.
That spooked him. He rumbles over to another tree and climbs partly up the trunk. I pound my feet on the deck, he hops down, and runs into the forest. Kane is still barking, and Karen is doing all she can to keep him from crashing through the door after the bear. I send Karen for the halogen beam spotlight, which she brings. Not leaving the deck, I start scanning the trees for our unwelcome (sort of) visitor. No eyes shine back, all is quiet. I walk out into the yard.
Just yesterday I'd mounted a platform feeder on a pole, and he wasn't By-Dog! gonna knock that one down. I brought it, and the rest of the feeders, into the house. (I'd already at dark brought in the ones the racoons had raided earlier this year).
I've known we have bears in the woods behind out house. There are trees that have been scratched, and they've left scat under the apple trees in the fall (guess what bears don't always do in just the woods). But, until tonight, I'd not seen any (in fact, in the 13+ years I've lived in Vermont, I hadn't seen one anywhere in the state).
So, I'm happy to say, this encounter went OK. The bear didn't get shot (except by the camera), I didn't get clawed or chewed, and Kane earned his keep.
Pictures to follow...stay tuned.