Bear Pressure.

Over a few beers, a guy I know told me he shot a bear. He shook his head and blamed it on peer pressure. I said nothing for a bit. Then I said: beer pressure?

I’d heard him okay, but I was interested in busting balls. If there are two things that piss me off it’s peer pressure and shooting bears.

I’d gone looking for bears myself on occasion but not to kill them. I wanted to walk the ground they walked. I saw a grizzly in a Yellowstone valley, but I was on a mountain. Even through binoculars it looked like a bug, and I don’t count that as a sighting.

I saw a black bear in Alaska but I was on water and it was on shore, so that can’t count either. I’ve hiked Michigan’s U.P., rich bear country and seen no bears. I can live with that. So can the bears.

On the plus side, when I was looking for bears I saw Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Grosbeaks, Black Terns, Snow Buntings, Pileated Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and other species I don’t normally see. Pileateds and eagles, seen close, made up for not seeing bears.

But back to the guy telling me about bears over beers. He got talked into a Canadian bear hunting package by business buddies. He said no, but they pushed, suggesting he was unmanly.

So he found himself in a sniper’s tree above a stack of meat covered with molasses. A bear came. The guy shot it through the heart and felt bad about it.

Well, there was much to feel bad about. I agreed. He said he felt bad about the evil trick of molasses, and bad about the killing. Then he said the thing that bothered him most was that he gave in to peer pressure.

He threw back his beer and ordered another. I thought about saying “beer pressure” again. I like messing with words, but wasn’t in the mood any more, so I said nothing.

4 Responses to “Bear Pressure.”

  1. Greg says:


    Personally, my disdain is with the technique employed. You equate the beef or chicken we eat with the bear hunting mentioned in the story. The cattle and the chicken are farmed. No less cruelty, I suppose…in the end the animal dies. But the human experience is the difference. The chickens are raised with the intent of being eaten.

    But bear hunting, using a pile of meat covered with molasses as bait and shooting it from a blind perched in a tree is just cowardice. Cheap cowardice.

    I don’t have a problem with hunting, per se… pheasant hunting, for instance involves some skill and gives the bird a chance. Want to hunt bear? Go stalk one with a bow-and-arrow. Carry a sidearm in case things get a bit hairy, if it makes you feel safer.

    But sitting in a blind waiting for a hungry bear to come gorge itself on a huge treat is like cruising a bar armed with a pocket full of roofies.

  2. Ron says:

    I know this guy, and heard the same story. When he saw your spin on his adventure, he mused about the about the sadness one feels when a great book is turned into a Hollywood movie. Producers dilute real ideas to not overtax the mediocre-at-best intelligence of the proletariat. He thinks the two-fisted birdwatcher took a few very true facts, diluted them, spun them, and turned them into a pithy quip for a movie ticket sale, albeit not so unintelligent, not so ill conceived and not so unentertaining. Regardless, this guy won’t be hunting bear again.

  3. Everett says:

    If your disdain for hunting is based on it being cruel to animals, we would respond by pointing to the cruelty inflicted on the cow your last steak came from. Even worse for the bird enthusiast, the factory farming cruelty inflicted on the chicken or turkey who gave its breast to the sandwich you may have recently lifted, two-fisted, to your face. The bear, we imagine, was spared such cruelties by a quick, clean shot. In our hunting experiences, we haven’t come across hunters who leave their kills to rot, or require multiple shots to bring it down. The hunter referenced in Scott’s comment was no hunter at all.

    If your disdain for hunting is based on it not being in harmony with nature, consider that the balance of nature depends on the predator-prey relationship. Moreover, since the dawn of time, man has hunted for his food. Perhaps the need to go into the wild and hunt for food has been replaced by the convenience and over-abundance of grocery stores, restaurants, and the food-industrial complex. Consider then, that the need to go into the wild to see birds has also been replaced by high definition video, bird zoos, or streaming web cams. Ah, but the two-fisted birdwatcher would much rather go into the wild to see his bird than see it in high definition on a screen. We understand. Do not the hunter and the birdwatcher share the same love of nature? Of the wild? Of ecological conservancy?

    Speaking of conservancy, hunting is highly regulated and ecologically sound. Licenses are limited and designed to help control populations to maintain a natural balance. If your hunter didn’t kill his bear, the park rangers would have to.

    When it comes to the evils of peer pressure, however, you’ll get no argument from us. We imagine your bear hunter friend was playing to your sensitive side when he told you he felt bad or gave in to pressure. The bear hunter, in fact, is totally alone, miles from any peers. And when the decision is made to pull the trigger, or release the arrow, it is made alone. If hunters gave into peer pressure, given the vocal misconceptions and closed-minded views of the non-hunting population, you’d have a lot less hunters. We can see you smiling at that thought….

  4. Scott H says:

    Two bear stories –

    Some years ago a friend of mine told me of seeing a spectacular black bear sow with 2 cubs. Not so unusual really, except that he claimed she had a crimson saddle marking across her shoulders. I thought ‘right, a black bear with a big red patch on its back. Sure thing.’

    I thought no more of it until about 2 summers later when I saw her for myself for a few seconds crossing Santa Fe NF Rd #18 about 20 miles NW of Las Vegas, NM. A short sighting, maybe, but there was no missing that scarlet saddle!

    The next summer I was jawing bears with a local ranch manager and mentioned this spectacular specimen. He’d seen her too. Dead on the side of the road. She’d been shot and left to rot…

    About 15 yrs ago in October my family and I were camped in the Manzano Mts east of Albuquerque, NM for the Hawk Watch fall raptor count at Capilla Peak. – This is not to be missed if you’re in the neighborhood in early October. – One morning a pickup cruised the campground (full of what’s known around here as bark eatin’ treehuggers) asking if anyone had seen any bears.

    Well, we were in a full-up campground…

    Later that day we heard a couple of shots followed immediately by the agonized roaring of a bear. This went on for some few minutes before 1 last shot brought silence.

    An hour or so later the mighty hunter appeared to show off his field dressed prize to what, I’m sure, he thought would be an appreciative and grateful audience.

    Using a pile of twinkies and bacon he’d lured in a little 2 yr old from the look of it. Maybe a hundred, hundred twenty lbs. From the exposed body cavity we could see that at least one slug had passed through the body just forward of the hip girdle. A gut shot. From a prepared stand. What a hunter!

    He was so proud he didn’t seem to notice the stony silence all around him as he recounted his exploits…

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