Last Sunday night I ventured out onto the front porch. It was around 11:30 pm and the waxing crescent moon had already set. Most of our neighbors keep an outside light on during the night so there are always faint shadows even with no moonlight. We have lived here 22 years so I know where the shadows usually are.
As soon as I stepped onto the porch, I smelled something. However, there is always some form of wildlife around and nighttime foraging and hunting is pretty common. However, this smelled really bad. It was similar to the uncovered beef stew that someone left on the kitchen counter just as you left for a 2-week vacation. You know, the first whiff you get on return to the house. You get used to this kind of thing in the country, but still there was something …
Then one of the shadows moved. That’s not good! ‘It’s probably a Red Fox, a White Tail Deer, or an opossum, those guys are always out here,’ I was thinking. However, this shadow was big, really big! Fortunately, he didn’t have any interest in me and proceeded next door. As he approached their house, I took a big gulp and the adrenaline started to rise. This moving shadow was a 400-pound Black Bear.
Now we’ve seen many critters here, but this was our first bear. Neither my wife nor I had ever seen one, so I knew (in the interest of husband survivability) I had to go upstairs and wake her up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my wife move so fast, down the stairs and out the front door. Very quickly, this Black Bear became known to us as Big Yogi.
Fortunately, Big Yogi was only interested in finding something to eat and that didn’t include us. It’s getting close to hibernation time for him and he needs all the food he can get. When we returned outside he was attempting to tip over our neighbor’s trashcan, but it wouldn’t budge. No problem, he just went down to the next house and looked for another trash can. About 10 minutes later, to no one’s surprise, we heard the crash. Dinner is served! By now it was midnight and it looked like the excitement was over so we went back to bed.
Then, about 30 minutes later, we heard another crash. Only this one was very close. We raised the blinds, opened the window, and there was Big Yogi enjoying the contents of OUR trashcan! I tried to shine some light on him for a picture, but a black bear under a tree with no moonlight is well beyond my meager photographic talents. And to be honest, I wasn’t going out there anyway.
What we did see was this 6-foot tall bear sitting down on the pine straw enjoying his meal. He would look at us, with almost a grin that dared us to do something really stupid. Otherwise, he had no concerns except finishing his meal. After 30 minutes, he was finished (he had a fondness for leftover Chicken Alfredo and stale Cheetos) and he moved on to the next house. We could see him go right up to the front door, look around, and then disappear. Five minutes later, another crash and he had scored his third trashcan of the night.
Now we know that Big Yogi doesn’t belong in our neighborhood, but I wasn’t going to tell him that! However, one of our neighbors did call County Animal Control to let them know. Animal Control told him to call the County Police, so he called the County Police. The County Police thanked him and said they would call County Animal Control. It appeared that instead of catching this 400-pound Black Bear, we were doomed to Catch 22. By 1:45 am the excitement was over, sleep was intended but hard to achieve. I looked around in the daylight and found Big Yogi’s footprints next to our BBQ grill. I’ll bet the smell of that grill was very tempting for him but it’s against the house and can’t be tipped over.
Monday evening everyone exchanged Big Yogi stories but no one had much real information. I barricaded the trashcan as did everyone else and our few houses were spared the dining efforts of Big Yogi. He had moved on down the street and we heard more stories from neighbors further away. On Tuesday there were more stories of the exploits of Big Yogi. There were more trash cans tipped over and more meals consumed. However, everyone seemed to understand to leave him alone.
The end of this story begins Tuesday night. You see, Wednesday is garbage day. Since the garbage trucks usually come early to our neighborhood, everyone puts their trash cans at the end of their driveways Tuesday night. Anticipating that this would represent an open buffet for Big Yogi, most people tried to wait until daylight. But Big Yogi roamed the streets and the early commuters could tell right away where he had dined. Since Big Yogi is still roaming the area, I suspect this will not be the last story I will write about him.
© J T Weaver
Please feel free to share this post on your favorite social media below.