I’m sitting here in my Montero Sport in The Swamp off the Saint Johns River in DeBary, Central Florida at 8 a.m. reading the news on line when a movement at the corner of my vision captures my attention. I look up and there’s a large black bear not a dozen feet away from where I’m sitting! Freaked me out!
I pretty much enjoy watching the wildlife I’ve come across in the last few years. Here in the Swamp it’s gators, wild turkeys, white tail deer,
and a couple of glimpses of wild boar. When I was anchored off of Anna Maria Island a little below Tampa Bay there were dolphins, white pelicans in their annual migration,
brown pelicans plunging into the water for their dinner year round, and manatees both there and here in The Swamp.But a bear that close is just too Nat Geo for me, thank you. I had been thinking about pitching my tent in the shade of a stand of nearby bamboo but this gives me have second thoughts.
I know there are bears here. Last year my neighbor, Lee, took a pic of one nosing around by my picnic table,
and last week I saw his pittie, Polly, chasing a small bear down the “driveway” path we use to get to the dirt road that leads to civilization.
On the route I use once I get to pavement there are two yellow road signs with bear pictures.
And recently there was a newspaper story about an elementary school not far away going on something similar to lockdown because of a black bear on the premises. Aware that bears are on the move at this time of year bulking up for winter (they don’t hibernate here in Florida I read, but they do get lethargic and dormant) I figured I needed something for protection. I don’t have, and am not buying, a gun. I don’t want to be close enough to a bear to be able to use some kind of spray effectively, either, but I know they’re leery of humans as a rule. So I brought the air horn I used on the boat up to the SUV. I had it within arm’s reach. I picked it up and with two long toots the bear took off like a shot down the “driveway” and disappeared into the thick underbrush a couple of hundred feet away without looking back.