My cousin apparently isn’t a big fan of bears

It was this time of year about a decade and a half ago when my dad and I took my cousin up into the woods. Dad and I had a great time, but I think we razzed Vance a little too much about the animals we might see up there near Dubois.

About 15 years ago, my dad, my cousin Vance and I took a weekend trip to Dundee Meadows above Dubois. The “bear use area” signs we encountered where we turned off the main road steered the conversation toward these large carnivores. Dad and I really didn’t think much about it, because even though we had spent a good deal of time in bear use areas, we hadn’t seen a real, live grizzly outside of Yellowstone Park.

Vance, on the other hand, was a city kid from Houston. The signs made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up visibly.

Being the kind, caring people we are, Dad and I tried to put Vance’s mind at ease. We told him as long as he kept food odors out of his clothes and sleeping gear, he wouldn’t attract bears. Until that trip, I never knew a 13-year-old boy could go three days without eating so much as a crumb.

When we were horseback up there, we told Vance to stay on his horse if we encountered a bear, because bears seldom attack riders on horseback. We also told him a grizzly can outrun a fast quarter horse in a sprint. He gave us a funny look, but he didn’t question our wisdom. Looking back now, I think he was trying to figure out if we gave him the slowest horse Dad owns on purpose.

We did a lot of fishing on that trip, and at one point, when Dad was putting another fish on the stringer, we told Vance that bears are very protective of their food, whether they killed it themselves or happened upon it pre-prepared. He spent the rest of the day fishing about 500 yards away from the stringer.

I called Vance just the other day to ask if he wanted to come to Wyoming and go fishing near Dubois with me this summer. For the 15th year in a row, he declined. I guess he’s pretty busy down there in Texas.