What’s The Worst That Can Happen

Yellowstone National Park

“Come On let’s do it.”

“Leave me alone Earl.”

“Come on boo, it’ll be cool.”

“No, You always do this. And I catch it big time because I listened to you. No, not after last time.”

“Come on… She’ll have forgotten all about that, it was days ago.”

“Yeah right she doesn’t forget anything.”

“What about that time she left us up in the tree all night. She forgot which one she sent us up.”

“She didn’t forget you doofus. Old Split Tooth was coming around. If you remember, you still got the marks on your butt where he tried to catch you. You were squealing pretty good if I remember right. He fell asleep right at the foot of the tree all night. Mama had a cow until he left.”

“Well that was a little serious. She won’t remember this because it’s small stuff. Mama don’t sweat the small stuff.”

“Just like she didn’t sweat the small stuff when you thought it would be funny to see how many nipples you could get in your mouth at one time. She carried you around by the scruff of your neck for two whole days. The skin on your neck is just now looking normal.”

“That was then this is now. I was younger and slower then. Let’s do it it’ll be fun. You bite her on that spot by her tail that she licks all the time and I’ll jump on her face and hold my paws over her eyes. She won’t even know it was us I bet. Then we’ll hide behind this log. Get ready and bite her. Come on, what’s the worst that can happen.”

She’s Back! And She’s Brought The Kids – Again

She’s back and she’s brought the kids, again! This is Edith Halfway Jones one of our resident Black bears here at *The Institute and if you are a long time reader of the blog you know that she is a regular here. It was exactly one year ago on May 12 that Edith showed up late for work and in danger of not only getting her pay docked but losing her position on the elite bear patrol that guards the inner perimeter of The Institute. Her excuse was three little bear cubs, obviously hers, that she had as a single mother over the winter.

Edith usually a demure, quiet non-partier had let her hair down or at least her fur, got hammered on a mixture of EverClear infused with pine needles, spent some time with a bear she had just met and the result was the triplets, Solenoid, Nodule and little Fleabert. For additional information about her return last year see this post.


We  thought she had left for good last Fall taking the cubs and heading into the far reaches of the back country outside the borders of The Institute and we wouldn’t see her again. So it was with no little surprise when she showed up this evening, back in the saddle again, with the triplets stuffing their faces with as much of this new green grass as they could choke down. She looks good. She’s sleek and shapely. The cubs look good too. They’re fat for just being out of the den. Edith seems a little more calm and adjusted to being a mom. Last year she micro-managed the cubs a lot with a fair amount of growling and some biting but this year she’s not concerned at all with their chasing around and heading off into the brush alone. A little chirp from her and they’re right back where she can lay a paw on them if she needs to. Motherhood seems to suit her.

As was mentioned earlier she has checked in on the 12th of April this year, almost a month early. Last year she came back on the 12th of May. It’s been warmer this winter and the kids probably got up early and after their playing squealing Climb on Mom games with their sharp little claws and head bumping for milk, she couldn’t stand to hear them yell “Let’s go out. I’m hungry.” one more time she gave up and came out early. Luckily the grass is ready and there’s lots of ground squirrels and voles around to eat too. The cubs are twice the size they were last fall.

There you have it. We got Spring. We got bears. There’s even a pair of Bluebirds catching bugs by flying softly into the window glass with a bump and grabbing a mouthful and nesting under the deck again. What more could you want.

Spring iz Sprung.

The Grass is Riz.

I wonder where the Flowers iz.

Hope  your place is on schedule and your bears are back. Happy Spring to you all.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

How Not To Listen For Ground Squirrels


There are several things wrong going on in this image of Otis Onebear listening for ground squirrels. First is after digging a fairly large-sized wallow in an exploratory gesture to see if ground squirrels were even in the vicinity, he assumed a posture that is very uncomplimentary to bears. Second would be listening for ground Squirrels when it is really hot out.  Sound travels through the earth at a much slower rate when the temperature is above 90°, so you have to wait longer to hear it. Third is leaving your great big bear head in the same place too long instead of moving it all over the place sampling for ground squirrel activity.


Of course the end result of all of this is preordained. The ground feels so good. The buzzing of the flies is hypnotic. The heat was bearing down on that big shaggy black coat. His butt weighed way too much to be held up in the air like that for very long and the inevitable happened. His big butt slowly and embarrassingly sank down into a pleasant resting position and he was instantly plunged into heavy sleep. Busses full of tourists came by laughing and pointing, taking flash pictures of him in broad daylight. Someone tried to sneak up on him to pin a “Kick Me I’m Sleeping ” sign on him but his tour translator caught him in time and explained about the negative result of “pinning” bears, even if it would be funny back home.

Eventually Otis Onebear woke up, wobbling to his feet and looking around with that baffled expression of  “What?” before heading off into the trees with the vague idea of campsites, lickable empty tin cans, maybe one of those tied up dogs they leave to bark in the afternoon while they’re off falling into geysers and what not. Anything would be better than listening for ground squirrels.

The Bad Neighbor

The neighbor8703


Hey, I didn’t think you was doing nothing so I come over. Whatcha doin? Nothin’, eh.

Yeah, me to.

Did you get a chance to go by that Elk carcass over on Alum creek? I stopped by but there wasn’t a lot there. The wolves been at it.

I know, the bastards, the Hayden’s full of them. It’s getting so you can’t swing a buffalo calf without hittin’ one of them. My nephew, Tooth, yeah the one with the ripped ear, he said they ran him off this calf he took down. There must a been a dozen of them.

Me too, I’m sick of them. I try and kill every one I see but they’re fast. They bit my cousin’s sister-in-law’s best friends daughter, yeah Edna, the one that’s been dropping cubs all over Norris junction, and like to tore her up. She had to run like a little black bear to get out of there.

No I don’t know where is Edna is. How come?

Yeah right, No special reason my ass.

You got any grubs, I am flat starving.

No I don’t want any grass shoots. Has she got you on that grass and water diet again? Man when are you gonna put your paw down and tell her where the bear crapped in the buckwheat? How you supposed to get through the winter eating that crap.

No you know I’m single. What’s so hard about it. Just tell her.

What do you mean you don’t like sleeping in the cheat grass by yourself. Dude you’re embarrassing me. Are you a bull grizzly or not. I never thought I’d see you like this. Remember all the hell we raised when we were kids?

Come on, quit that whimpering. Let’s go tear open a log or something. I heard the Miller moths were starting up on Washburn, yeah we could go up there for a few days. Let her cool down.

Yeah, yeah I know you’re supposed to be digging out the den, but screw that, let’s go.

Of course I know where Edna is. I was just messing with you. We can stop by on our way up there. Huh?, no, why would she tell. Listen Cliff, we have got to get you some red meat. Seriously.





Big Red Bears Little White Grubs

RedBear6920click to enlarge

Bears will do some pretty disgusting stuff. Especially big red bears who have an audience. When a bear is sighted in Yellowstone there is a signal sent out that when viewed from above looks like one of those old movie shots of an atomic explosion. The one where there is a ever-growing circle of dust and debris and destruction that heads out in all directions, faster and faster. Trees fall down, houses come apart and there is chaos of the supreme kind. That’s what its like when someone yells bear.

If there is a bear sighted on the Madison for instance people clear up in the Lamar valley eighty miles away will know about it in moments and break every known speed limit to get there before the bear is gone. Soon of course every human in Yellowstone is at the scene yelling, pointing, trying to sneak closer to get a better view, shooting their flash off when they’re several hundred yards away, arguing with the rangers and generally causing severe damage to interspecies cooperation.

Some bears simply can not handle that kind of craziness and haul their large furry butts off into the trees, but some bears relish the attention, and some like this big red one who is actually called a cinnamon bear because it sounds more scientific than just saying red, will stick around and put on a show. Not like walking on giant beach balls or wearing pointy party hats, that kind of stuff but everyday bear stuff.  Checking things out, sniffing tree branches which is kind of like reading the newspaper for them, flipping over rocks to see what’s under there, posing to show off how butch it is, and ripping open logs to find grubs. Grubs of course are the disgusting part, but bears like them. They like to eat them actually and consider it a great success when they tear open a log and find what they constantly seek, grub heaven.

To those unaccustomed to eating grubs this seems to be gross. And the more of those fatty, juicy, pop in your mouth treats the bear eats the grosser it is. And if the bear then chews with his mouth open that is like totally gross and usually sends the weaker stomachs staggering back to the mini-van. Of course, bears know this and they love it. If they can pack several dozen grubs into their mouth and then face the crowd, chewing with their mouth open they’re ecstatic. Kids love it too, if it grosses the Geezoids out that makes the whole trip. There will be endless miles where they’ll be reviewing just how gross it was in exacting detail and wasn’t it cool that it made mom sick. The bear will probably being doing the same thing when it gets down to the old Missing Tourist pub that night and the stories start.

I was going to photograph the open mouth chewing part for the blog but it was just too gross. As much as I like to bring realism to the stories that appear on this page we do have some standards here. But if you kids out there want to send in five dollars in plain unmarked bills I’d be happy to send you some of the out-takes. Just put ‘Gross out Grubs’ in the subject line.

Disclaimer: NO one between the age of 6 mos. and 111 may order unless a signed notarized affidavit from the ‘Standards of Decency Committee’ in your community accompanies your order. No exceptions.