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! :)