Wildlife Studies in Republic
Driving through the one main intersection in Republic the other day, I was forced to stop and wait for a herd of 15 mule deer to cross the road. As I waited, I reflected on the uniqueness of living in a town where the heart of the down town may have more four-footed pedestrians than two legged. That is if you don’t count the turkeys. The turkey population is not as large as the deer, but it seems to be growing rapidly and becoming increasingly familiar with town life.
It’s not uncommon to look out your window and watch two bucks fighting or see numerous does and their young bedded down around the house. Quail, raccoon and the occasional skunk aren’t uncommon and sometimes find their way into the house. A few years ago, when my oldest son was sleeping in the basement, he awoke to find a skunk circling around his bed. Needless to say, he laid very still until the intruder decided that there was nothing of interest in the room and wandered back outside.
Sometimes things can get even more exciting when the larger predators decide to give city life a rumble. One night I was repeatedly awakened by the barking of my little cow dog. His insistent bark told me that some creature was harassing him, and after numerous barking fits, I decided to go out side and chase away the deer I assumed was the culprit.
As I walked out the door, I stooped down and picked up a piece of wood to toss at the offending animal and strolled out in my half awake condition. There was no animal in the inner yard, so I walked out to where the trucks are parked. I stopped near a woodpile and squinted into the dark, but saw nothing. I was about to turn back into the house when I gazed over the top of the pile towards the street light down the hill.
It was at that moment that I realized that sitting on top of the pile, less than 4 feet away was a punkin’ headed black bear, his head perfectly silhouetted by the street lamp.
With out thinking, I instantly threw the stick at his head and made a fairly solid hit. He then exploded off the pile and ran off into the darkness, leaving me to totter back into the house with shaking knees.
The next morning I found bear scat all over the yard which helped assure me that the whole instance wasn’t just a wild dream. And I’m a little more cautious now when I go out after dark to chase away animal pests.