The last few years my trips to the cabin have been mostly solo. I am always careful on these excursions to be extra aware of my surroundings and extra cautious when I go hiking or boating. So I was more than a little alarmed two years ago to find a pile of scat that I was pretty confident was bear. (I’m sorry, I wish I had thought to take pictures of it to share…) The pile was largish, dark and lumpy, and more importantly was located on a game trail far from any of the horse trails. (Horse piles can sometimes look like bear scat.) My heart rate increased considerably as I considered how close the pile was to my cabin and closer yet to the outhouse trail!
I later reported my find to my Dad who scoffed. He reminded me that there has never been any bear activity on our side of the lake. I was forced to admit that other than the one pile of scat, I had seen no other signs: no tracks, no clawed trees, no evidence of digging, no smell. But I couldn’t come up with any other explanation for what I had seen. Last summer I found another pile in the same area and was able to point it out to him when he and Mom came to the Cabin. Like me he was puzzled, but still adamant that it couldn’t be bear.
In August I joined several friends for a symposium called Becoming an Outdoor Woman. It’s put together by our Department of Fish and Game and if you have a similar program in your area I HIGHLY recommend it! There were classes on everything from fly fishing to handling a chainsaw. I took one called “What’s In the Woods.”
You see where this is going right? Sure enough, in the course of our hike, the instructor picked up a moose nugget and naturally we all identified it correctly. But then he went on to inform us that this was last winter’s nugget – composed of wood and bark from their winter diet. In summer, the moist diet of pond grasses and leaves produces a completely different type of scat – darker and lumpy and unformed. Sound familiar?
Sigh… I really hate having to admit when I’m wrong but I’m REALLY glad it wasn’t a bear after all! The only consolation is that Dad has over 60 years of moose experience in Alaska and he didn’t know either!