February 18th., 2008

It was a beautiful day here in central Pennsylvania, USA. The sun was shining and the temperature rose to 45░ degrees.
My husband Joe decided he would take our boxer dog Lilah for a little hike up into the mountain.
The picture at the top is our snow covered dirt lane that leads up into state owned gameland.

Joe put on his shoes which has rubber straps attached and have metal spikes on. It was still icy and snowy here after the ice storm and then two snowfalls we had several days before, on the 10th and 12th.
We still have a nice depth of snow about five to six inches deep. I didn't go along with them, because I am afraid of slipping and fall. And this is something this seventy year old does not want to do.

Joe was gone for about an hour. When he came home he was all excited, and began to tell me of all the deer tracks about one_hundred yards up into the mountain, going in every direction. Lilah of course, was busy sniffing and tracking.
Then he told me about all the turkey_claw prints that were scattered here and there. This is all normal for most wildlife here on the mountain. They are year a_round, all seasons visitors.

Black bears are not true hibernators. They do bed down for winter but on occasion will awake. Joe and Lilah began to follow the bear tracks. They walked about twenty yards from where the bear tracks started. Then Joe saw where they ended.
The tracks led up into a large clearing. There he saw four trees had fallen and all piled together, which meant branches were entwined into a nice cozy shelter, where a bear could crawl in and stay protected.

Joe decided at that point that it was best to call Lilah before she found that opening and then high-tail it for home.
Because the bear tracks only went into the opening, and no bear tracks coming back out, meant that he was out wandering before the last snow. The bear was still in there, and hopefully sound asleep.

Lilah knows all to well the smell of bears and what they look like, for she has come face to face with them. She has chased them and barked at them, and run them off.

The surprise for us is that at least one bear is starting to emerge from winter sleep, much earlier then we expected. We know our black bears come around our house, starting in mid to late March.
So soon the excitement of seeing them again, and putting up bird feeders every morning, and taking them down at night, will be our daily routine. Then the games will begin. :-)

Written by ęBarbara L Chambers Carter
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