Sunday, March 10, 2013

Humble Pie? I'll have a double serving, please!

Some people don't like when they do something and they're corrected later.  Me? Heck, I'll take a second serving!  The best way to learn is if you really listen to advice from experts - from people who know more about something than you.  And I mean experts here.  Not the average guy who thinks he knows more than me simply because he came with a Y chromosome.  Those types can just kiss my tush. The key is listening - with an open mind and a decision to learn rather than defend your actions or knowledge.  It's really one of the best ways to learn.  In my case, I was served a great portion of humble pie surrounding my bear charge.  You remember that one, right?  The momma black bear who went from 3 cubs to 2 and then bolted 50 yards downhill at me and my daughter stopping a few mere feet from us? Yah, good times, eh? HAHA.

So I'm talking to a bear expert - I don't want to use his name because I didn't ask permission, but I promise you he's worked "hand-in-paw" with eastern black bears for many years and is very versed on their behavior and how to work with bear.  I trust his input and don't question it.  He has the knowledge and the experience to prove that I'm merely a toddler in the scope of bear.  That being said, here's the humble pie that is an eye opener for me (and a bit scary in retrospect):

My and Jess's actions were perfect for a solitary bear - usually a male - that is too close for comfort.  On the flip side, for a momma in protection mode (as witnessed initially from the cubs being sent up the tree), my reaction wasn't recommended because momma is thinking one thing: keep the cubs safe.  We posed a threat and his recommended action would have been to speak softly, lower my head, and slowly back off.  I did the opposite of that for the most part, which he noted he was glad ended well instead of the alternative (um, me, too!).  I looked bigger and imposing and made a lot of noise.  Perhaps the fact that we did slowly back off was what kept us safe?  In retrospect - again - I see where this makes sense.  I see where my education on bear behavior wasn't precise - I used generic info and I should have learned more.  ESPECIALLY because I knew the mom and cubs were local to my trail.  I knew it.  And I dropped the educate-myself ball.  Granted, bears aren't my forte but, my motto is always to know what's out there that you COULD encounter and be prepared for any situation.  I slacked, I have been corrected, I have assimilated the info and won't make the same mistake again.  Humble pie is not only delicious, but nutritious.  

So, take this knowledge of how I didn't react in the way I should have and add this to the mix: bluff charges aren't usually 50+ yards.  Apparently they're normally pretty short.  So... wow.  Just keeping that fact in perspective with the other info is really eye-opening.  The only thing that apparently made mine a bluff was that she stopped before barreling into me/us. I did get a compliment though - he said that, under the same circumstances, it was really good that I was able to assess the situation and react... apparently acting in the face of an "oh Sh**!" situation is hard.  It's like muscle memory though... you go over and over it in your head and when it happens it's an instant reaction rather than a conscious digging for information in your head.  Now I'll revamp that info so it's more appropriate and situation-based.

In the end, I'll take the info I was taught and beat it into my head so that - if that situation ever comes up again - I'm better prepared.  Which is likely... after all, hundreds of miles away I encountered a momma and her cub.  Some people may say "yah, but you were in a car that time"... hello... it was a convertible camaro.  ...Geez, I miss that car.  I think I may need to buy one.  I'm digressing, aren't I?

But... let's not forget that I'll REALLY glow in the compliment about reaction time!  See, sometimes humble pie has whipped topping! :)

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