This skull intrigued me with its bleached bone and hard shadows. I wondered what happened to cause it to be here. It was wild and dirty, and crying out to be drawn. So draw it I did!
The bear skull sitting on the running board of an older D6 Cat.
On our way into camp we often stop in a particular landing to give everyone a break from the ride. A D6 Cat tractor was parked there for several months. A local logger had been using it for road repair and erosion control work. During one stop at the landing we found a bear skull. It wasn’t a large skull, probably from a young bear or a sow.
The Cat was parked in the landing for a few months. The skull is sitting on the floor in the entrance. Can you see it?
I couldn’t resist placing the skull in the tractor for the loggers to find. It sat there for weeks undisturbed. Until one day, while we were coming through, it had disappeared. Somebody or something must have taken a fancy to it and packed it off. When I first saw the skull I wondered what it’s story was, but it seems that it’s story may not be done. I wonder where it is now.
Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis, is an evergreen oak of the California Sierra Nevada and Coastal Range. Its full range stretches from Mexico and Arizona north to southwestern Oregon. These trees typically prefer shallow soils like those found in steep canyons common in the low and mid elevation mountains. Hence the name. These sites are normally poor soil quality and aren’t the best locations for growing commercial timber. Canyon Live Oak is not considered as a commercial species. Its main commercial value is as firewood. However, it has a high intrinsic value as a species important to wildlife. In forest management it is far more beneficial left on the landscape providing food, nesting and roosting habitat.
Canyon Live Oak, Quercus chrysolepis
The camera wasn’t crooked. A canyon live oak in a canyon.
Canyon Live Oak Acorns
This specimen is over 4 feet in diameter.
Acorn woodpeckers use the canyon live oak acorns as a food source.
More Canyon Live Oak Acorns
Black bears eat mass quantities of acorns in the fall.
Fawns are often killed by black bears in the Spring. Right after birth, fawns know instinctively to lay perfectly still. They have almost no scent. If the fawn doesn’t move a muscle and the bear is up wind it my not see the little deer.
I have you folks to thank, or blame for this pen and ink. It’s the third version of this fawn. You can see the two previous versions in the post Wild Wednesday Fawn Redo. First was a sweet vignette, which Mary told me was lacking. So I added more detail and asked if you all preferred the simple vignette of the more complete fawn. I received lots of great feedback and the majority liked the additional detail. If more detail is good then a lot more should be great. Truth is, I kept adding more and more because I had a vision. That’s when the bear came along to add some drama. The first rendition was lackluster. Now it tells a story, so thank you Mary and all you folks who commented before. Listening to a good critique only makes us better artist and writers. Even if I grumbled about it at first.
On a side note, if I’d known it was going to morph into this final drawing, the composition would have been different. However, I think it works okay. What do you think?
Mary and I were driving into camp last summer and were approaching a little creek. As we rounded a bend in the road, this bear burst out of the blackberry bushes. It ran across the road in front of us and stopped in the blackberries about 30 feet away. I stopped the truck. It stared at us and we stared back. It appeared to be a young bear. It stayed there for a good 3 or 4 minutes while we took pictures. This bear was covered in burrs. unfortunately, that comes with this territory. Wild black bears usually run, but this one didn’t. Maybe, being a young bear it was curious. We’ve seen that before, “Curious Young Bear.” We also suspected that it might be a sow and she had a cub that was still below the road. Perhaps, she wasn’t leaving her baby.
Maybe, it was hoping we might stay and pick all those burrs out of it’s fur. After a few minutes of staring at each other, it ambled up the draw in search of a fresh patch of blackberries.
Two carnivores hunting in the woods. There’s something to be said about harvesting an animal that is perfectly capable of harvesting you. We encountered this beautiful beast while hunting Spring turkeys. With Autumn comes a different season.
Orange Glazed Bear
bear meat cut into thin strips
flour of your choice for dredging (wheat, cornstarch, rice, etc.)
barbecue sauce (homemade or one you like)
Marinade thin bear strips in a splash of soy sauce, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, with a pinch of ground mustard. Marinade over night or vacuum marinade for 30 minutes. The longer the better.
Place enough flour to coat the meat in a repurposed produce bag. Drain and save marinade juice from meat. Place meat in bag of flour, toss to coat.
Heat a splash almond oil with a dollop of coconut…
As we rounded the corner, we spooked this young bear. He ran up the hill a short distance and hid behind a large Douglas-fir tree. His curiosity got the best of him as he peeked around one side of the tree and his behind stuck out the other. I stopped the rig so we could watch him. He didn’t run away. We got out and started taking pictures.
His curiosity got the best of him. He had to get a better look at us.
He watched us for a while and we watched him. An older bear would never have stayed for a look. Soon his curiosity was satisfied and we went our separate ways.
California Black Bear, Ursus americanus
Monica was our pole plant/log clerk for many years and is a dear friend. She lives near Shasta Lake and has told me countless stories of her encounters with bears around her home. Of course she had to listen to my countless bear stories too. She just retired, so I gave her a signed and mounted print of this pen and ink. I think of her every time I look at it.
American Black Bear, (Ursus americanus), the biggest predator in our woods.
When working in the woods I’m usually alone, but really never alone. Do you ever get the feeling that someone or something is watching you? I had this big brute spying on me one day. He didn’t think I noticed him.
My neck is tingling! Is someone there?
There’s a sneaky bear it there!
The watcher was a big black bear boar.
Now, to answer the age-old rhetorical question.
You know the question. Yes indeed, they do poop in the woods. Just sayin’.
Hey, where’s my fierce guard dog?
Blitz decided she would wait it out in the truck. She knew the bear would leave after filling up on a yummy forester meal.
We originally set up hidden cams at various locations to catch claim jumpers. It’s a nice treat to capture the local critter population. Here is a sampling of what passed through the last 2 weeks. Of course, panning a little bling with my Tim is pure bliss.