Sunday, July 22, 2007

~Fighting the Alaska Wilderness~

Well many of you have probably heard about the excitement here in Kenai on Tuesday night. For those of you who haven't heard the story, it goes something like this.

At approximately 2:00 am Scott and I were plunged from our dreams by a loud noise and the slight feeling of our house shaking. I should mention that the previous evening we had been woken by a loud ruckus that turned out to be a bear knocking over a 6-7 foot garbage hut in the neighbors' yard, into his boat.

Needless to say the 2:00 am wake up call shook us up but we both had an inkling there was a giant claw and fang baring furball involved. We sat up and waited a minute trying to get our bearings and to determine the direction from which the sound and thump came. I did get my thoughts together enough to run across the hall and make sure all the girls were sound in slumber and not downstairs sleepwalking while hurling furniture across the room. They were all asleep and had not been disturbed by the noise.

I went back across the hall to find Scott coming towards me with a shotgun getting ready to head downstairs to protect the family. I sat back down on the bed and waited. Shortly following his departure he came running back upstairs urgently informing me that a bear had knocked down one of the freezers we have outside and was traipsing off with last years harvest.

Scott headed back down to continue scoping out the situation with me following behind. He managed to run the bear off so my concerns were more about getting back to sleep than anything else.

Scott headed outside to upright the freezer which at this point was whirring quite loud with obvious difficulty. It was also obvious that the meat on the ground needed to be cleared up. There still was little concern as the meat was frozen which to most people, logically would mean no smell, us included.

As Scott was outside the kitchen window trying to bring order to the situation the bear returned and Scott looked up to find the bear walking towards him and the frozen food aisle of the Holmes' abode. Fortunately Scott went outside with the trusty shotgun I mentioned before and was calm enough to shoot him square in the forehead. The bear went down immediately and Scott managed to get in the house. It wasn't until he was safe in the house that everything really started shaking.

I ran upstairs to check the girls and calm them down knowing they were scared out of their minds from the gunshot. I quickly returned to give Scott the chance to talk through his adrenaline rush as they were still sound asleep.

Using a flashlight we looked out the window; we wanted to factually determine whether or not the bear was brown or black. We were pretty sure it was brown but being that different laws apply we wanted to be sure before alerting the authorities. After we made sure it was in fact a brown bear Scott went to look up some regulations on the computer, to make sure what the protocol was for reporting a "defense of life and property" bear kill.

While he was doing his research I was planted at my little kitchen window still not sure that the thing might not get up and walk away. The window was open and I was just standing there sipping a cup of coffee when I started hearing what I thought were twigs cracking outside in the trees to the back-side area of the house. I immediately yelled for Scott who came to me mumbling "you've got to be kidding me".

I told him to stand there and listen as my adrenaline was still in high speed and it was certainly possible I was hearing things as I was standing there looking at a huge dead bear just outside my window. But no, he heard it too!

All of a sudden, Scott tells me there is a sow (female bear) and a cub in the yard! I moved across the kitchen and bent down to look out the large kitchen window that overlooks the front yard and I manage to burp out..."no, it is a sow and 2 cubs!" making a total of 3 bears coming toward the house. Don't ask me why I bent down but I think I was in a crouch out of fear.

For the record, we are not absolutely certain these were cubs. Because they were traveling with a sow we must assume they were but they weren't tiny! I am guessing they were at least 2nd year cubs.

At this point I am sure we were in absolute shock however Scott ran for the front door (with the shotgun), opened the door and started yelling at the live bears. 2 ran off right away but the 3rd one loped a couple of steps off and turned back to look at Scott. Raising the now infamous shotgun he fired a round in the air which promptly ran the 3rd furball off.

Finally we were able to call the police and the Fish and Game authorities. The police were out on a call and would take a while to arrive. I headed to check on the kids again but still no one had moved. It was between 4 and 5 when I finally laid down; Scott finished talking to the police well after 5. The guy from fish and game didn't come until after 7.

It turns out that even if you are not at fault and it is ruled a defense of life and property occurrence you are still responsible for cleaning it, getting it off your property and turning the hide over to Fish and Game. We had to hire a guy to come out and help Scott take care of it plus he missed a day of work because of the fiasco.

In case you are wondering, the freezer never did get upright until the police came and by that time the motor was shot! We had to purchase a new one.

Our case was ruled a DLP with acceptable cause. We were not fined. I think it was the dead bear with a shot in the forehead that lie less than 6 feet from Scott's footprints in the dirt near the freezer that saved us! It may have also been Scott's offer to allow them to launder his clothes if they needed proof of the close encounter.

When Cori woke up the next day she came running back by my computer whispering, "Mom, Dad's talking to someone of the phone about a bear and I see a dead one lying in the yard!" Who knew?

After gutting and cleaning it Scott took the hide over to the Fish and Game office and they estimate that he weighed about 550 pounds and measured about 8 foot! I know the photo with Cori taking aim makes him appear rather small but for reference take a gander at the size of his head in the photo where Cori is showing of his chompers! Scary huh?!

There was an article in Friday's newspaper; the caption read "Attacks on Outdoor Freezers Leave One Bear on Ice". They didn't have all the facts correct (they interviewed the Fish and Game guy, not Scott) but the gist of the story is the same. Such is life when you choose to live in the Alaskan wilderness.

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