Don’t store bear bait in the… (reader shared story)

Steve’s putting together a tree stand for the bear bait site. I’m getting the game cameras’ batteries replaced, cards formatted and inserted, and a little bait together. A cortisone shot in my injured, arthritic knee on Thursday is working nicely today so rolling the barrel up hill won’t be so bad. I need to figure out the harness that came with the stand (don’t think I’m going to like it).

Bear fur

Look around in the spring and early summer when bears are shedding. You might find fur.

Here’s a good lesson in where you shouldn’t store bait. Thanks to Brad Moore for sharing the story!

My cousin tells a story about bear baiting at their cabin in Wyoming. His mom, dad, aunt & uncle were involved and it happened over 25 years ago….

Uncle Arnold & Aunt Oma owned the cabin, but were not yet retired. Uncle Ed & Aunt Jewel were retired and stayed at the cabin through the week during the summer & fall months. Arnold and Oma joined them on Friday evenings.

Arnold and Ed were big hunters and had been baiting a sight for the upcoming bear season. Arnold would stop on his way from Denver and pick up “bad” meat at all the grocery stores along the way to the cabin in south-central Wyoming.

Arnold and Oma had a brand new car that they traveled in, but they also had an old CJ-5 that stayed at the cabin all the time as their hunting vehicle. Once they arrived at the cabin, Arnold removed the bad meat and set it in the old Jeep. The Jeep was parked on the side of the cabin, with the front porch steps coming up from the side of the porch.

While eating supper, Ed and Jewel told Arnold that they thought someone had been prowling around the cabin lately because things would be moved, they would hear things at night, and (worst of all!!) someone had stolen Aunt Jewel’s cherry pie that she set on the front porch rail to cool earlier that day! Arnold told them that several of the neighbors, about 300 yards down the road, had had similar experiences. Arnold was a WWII veteran that had stormed the beaches of Normandy and marched all the way through to Berlin. He was not one to trifle with.

During the night, Arnold was awakened to strange sounds coming from outside. He grabbed a flashlight and his .45 caliber Thompson Center single-shot, breach action pistol and went to investigate. After circling his cabin and finding nothing, he told Oma, who was nervously watching out the window, that he was going to check around the neighbor’s cabins. Again he found nothing and on his return, Aunt Oma stepped onto the front porch and met him at the steps. As Arnold started up the steps, he noticed the driver’s side door was ajar on the CJ-5 that was setting by the steps. He was telling Aunt Oma about not seeing anything, and as he reached for the door of the CJ-5, it swung open and out rolled a GRIZZLY BEAR!!! It had been inside the Jeep eating the bait meat. (I actually saw the marks in the seat in 1995 when we vacationed at the cabin.)

Well, as you can imagine, the bear was not thrilled with having his meal interrupted and he could not see because of Uncle Arnold’s flashlight in his eyes. So the bear stands up on his hind legs  to get better sight and he lets out a roar! Uncle Arnold said that it seemed like that roar went on for 5 minutes! Then the awkward silence lasted ten! All this time, Aunt Oma was standing on the front porch, speechless, watching her husband of 40 some odd year staring down a grizzly bear from less than 10 feet away.

Just as Arnold began to slowly back away, Aunt Oma finally screamed! At that sound, the bear dropped to all fours and lunged toward Uncle Arnold who lowered the .45 and fired off his single round! He struck the bear in the shoulder, just as it hit him, knocking him to the side as it roared and began flailing all over the yard of the cabin.

Unfortunately, Uncle Arnold had only carried one .45 shell with him. The report of the .45 and the roaring of the bear, teamed with Aunt Oma’s screams of “YOU GOT HIM!!! YOU GOT HIM!!!” woke up Ed & Jewel, who brought more shells. The bear had escaped from the light of the front porch by this time and, as you could imagine, Arnold was a bit shaken. The next morning, they drove to the nearest town to call Wyoming DNR. Once the game warden arrived at the cabin, he was quickly able to look over the tracks and blood trail and know that Arnold was telling the truth about the shooting being self-defense (the season wasn’t opened yet). They all tracked the bear’s blood trail for nearly 2 miles. It eventually went into an extremely thick aspen grove. The grove only covered about 1/2 acre and after searching all around the outer edge, they determined that the bear was still in there. However, none of them was brave (or stupid) enough to crawl on their hands and knees into the thicket after a wounded grizzly bear.

This story is told to all us “Southerners” from Alabama, who venture out to the cabin to vacation or hunt….but they always wait until we get TO the cabin to tell it!!!

Brad Moore



Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.