Steamin’ Bear Turds

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Written by — “The Mole”

During the summer months, I had a job in Kodiak, Alaska, working on a commercial salmon fishing boat. Commercial salmon fishing involves long, tedious hours of strenuous labor. There have also been many times when we have had to fish while ten foot waves were peeling over the sides of our boat, and the wind was blowing forty to fifty miles per hour. The combination of the winds and the cool temperatures makes working pretty tough, but you get little breaks now and then when the weather gets too bad to fish, and we’ll anchor up in a bay a ride it out.

When we weren’t fishing, our activities were sort of limited since we were so far away from anything you could call a town. We usually would drop our anchor in a bay somewhere near our fishing grounds and stay there until we were allowed to fish once again. Many times we would work on our net on our days off, but after we had our projects out of the way, you could always catch us goofing around with our outboard skiff.

One day while anchored in Kukak Bay, on the mainland across from Kodiak, my friend from another boat, Darryl, came over to our boat in his skiff and asked me if I wanted to go onto the beach and pick some berries. Of course I agreed, so we headed over to the beach in his skiff. When we finally got to the beach, I took a line and tied it up to a rock so the skiff wouldn’t float away.

When Darryl and I walked onto the beach we couldn’t believe the abundance of seafood in that small area. It was low tide and you could see clams everywhere. Not only were there clams, but there were dungeness crab walking all over the place. There was a creek down the beach a little ways. It was completely filled with salmon and they were jumping like crazy! We watched the salmon for about an hour, then waded across the creek with our knee-high rain boots on, and walked down the beach a little further.

Darryl was walking in front of me, until he just stopped. “Look down.” he said in a strange manner. I looked down and to my surprise I saw about the biggest bear tracks I had ever seen. The tracks were so big that I could fit my entire foot inside of the indentations, and I was wearing size 13 boots at the time! Darryl and I didn’t worry too much about the tracks, though, since they didn’t look very fresh — plus, we were getting kind of hungry since we hadn’t found any berry bushes yet. We walked down the beach a little further and we saw a bunch of seagulls’ bones and feathers near some more tracks, but that still didn’t hinder us since we had some berries in sight.

While we were picking berries, Darryl and I joked around about what we would do if we saw this monster of a bear who had made those tracks. Darryl picked up a stick and told me how he would beat the crap out of that bear if it even got close to us. I pulled out my jack knife and explained how I would stab the monster exactly between the eyes if the stick didn’t work. We both laughed and picked some more berries.

Our laughing quickly ceased when I stumbled upon probably the largest turd that I had ever seen… and it was steaming. We looked up the hill about thirty yards and we saw what might be considered as the perfect specimen of an Alaskan Brown Bear, one of the largest carnivores on earth, and it was headed our way! “Darryl,” I suggested, “I think we should leave!” Darryl dropped the berries and the stick and we probably ran faster than we had ever ran before. The bear was chasing after us, too. The bear started gaining on us as we waded back across the creek. I always thought that bears ran slow, but this bear was running quite fast, especially for how big it was.

We finally reached the place where we had tied the skiff to the rock, but the tide had risen while we were gone and there was about a twenty foot distance between the skiff and the shore. The bear was approaching fast, so we jumped in the water and tried swimming to the skiff. Our boots filled up with water which made it difficult to swim, so we pulled them off in the water and swam to the skiff. As we untied the skiff from the rock and started up the engine, the bear was right across from us on the beach. Darryl jammed the throttle in full all at once and the skiff made a giant spray of water. Both of our hearts were racing and they wouldn’t stop. God we were scared! And we vowed never to pick berries again in Kukak Bay.

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