Close Encounter With Bears


(originally posted August 18, 2019)

I recently hiked seven miles at the Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, near Jamestown, Tennessee – more about that in the days ahead. This post recaps two instances along the trail in which I encountered bears.

Highlights: this park offers scenic overlooks of the canyon, substantial sandstone cliffs, interesting geological structures, and a canopied forest trail. Oh, and wildlife.

🐻 Bear No. 1

Have you ever had the feeling that you’re being watched? Well, that’s exactly how I felt as I approached a small stream at the base of the canyon. Nearly two miles into the wilderness, I had the sense that something was out there, that I wasn’t alone, and so I stopped to surveil my surroundings, keeping still to remain as quiet as possible. However, I didn’t see or hear anything.

The trail crossed this stream, then paralleled alongside.

The trail followed the stream, slowing gaining elevation with distance. I was soon at a point approx. 15-feet above the stream, when it happened: an adult male black bear probably twice my size (235 lbs.) had snuck up on me and was within 30-feet! This was likely the source of my concern, earlier, now in potentially dangerous proximity.

I stopped moving and wondered what was next – should I turn back in the direction from whence I came, attempt to climb a tree (which was problematic, as these trees were tall and without low branches), remove and unzip my backpack to acquire a knife, or make lots of noise (I can whistle really loud!)?

I opted to remain still, concluding that the bear was aware of my presence and deemed that I wasn’t a threat – an easy posture to assume, given its girth. As I watched, it became clear that the bear was undertaking his daily scavenging for a meal routine, shifting rocks in the stream to dislodge potential sources of food. This was in fact what first alerted me to the bear…the sound of rocks being moved.

Regaining my composure, I shot this video as I followed the bear from along the trail, keeping back a safe distance while attempting to remain less conspicuous behind trees…

Note: the large rock being easily moved by the bear in this video was probably in excess of 100 lbs..

Also read: Part Two – Another Black Bear Video

🐻 Bear No. 2

I saw another bear not long after this encounter, along the trail at a higher elevation on a ridge. This bear was either a female or adolescent, which I estimated at 300 lbs. or less. As I was paying close attention to the root-covered ground while hiking, I happened to glance ahead and see a bear on the trail looking directly at me.

The bear was probably 60-feet in front of me, and, when we made eye contact, took off like a bat out of hell racing downhill through the forest on an estimated 30-degree slope. I was truly amazed (and, quite pleased) at how fast this bear bounded down the hill.

More Posts

See more information & photographs about my hike at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area.


31 responses to “Close Encounter With Bears”

  1. Big adventure Phil, the bear moved the rock like a leaf!!!

    1. Thanks Paulo – a very powerful bear, indeed. It was certainly a memorable experience!

  2. Wow! What an experience. I cannot wait to read more.

    1. Thanks, Lisa ~ it surely was a memorable experience! I’d seen bears from a safe distance before, but never so close nor so all-of-a-sudden.

  3. OMG! That is a little too close! But what an amazing experience, awesome that you were able to capture the video, and stay alive!

    1. Yes, I’ll definitely remember that hike for a long time! I knew that something might be out there, but was nonetheless shocked to see that such a large animal could move so close without being heard – all of a sudden…HELLO!

  4. Wow! That’s an incredible encounter, Phil! Great video & portrayal of your “walk!” From my POV, that took some real guts! 😊

    1. Thanks, Felipe. It was certainly a memorable experience! Fortunately for me, the bear seemed preoccupied searching for snacks underneath rocks in the stream 🙂

      1. Oh, yes, very fortunately, lol! I would’ve been petrified! 😂 Andy u got video! Amazing poise, Phil! 😊

  5. Great photos! Great last name too, lol, I don’t think I have any relatives in TN, but am from VA here so not out of the question!

    1. lol Thank you, Stuart – no relation, but indeed a great last name 👍👍

  6. Wow. And I was all excited the day I watched a family of raccoon cross my path. But then, understanding the strength a bear has, I’ll be happy with the racoon.

    1. I always try to remain aware of my surroundings, especially when hiking. So, when such a large animal was able to get so close…surprise!!! Have a nice day, my friend Rebecca 😊🌹

  7. I like your fairness while taking video of the Bear. If I was in your place, I first would have climbed tree and then shot the video 😂

    1. Yes, the thought crossed my mind too 😂

  8. I love hiking but I believe a bear would turn me into a runner.

  9. Omg Phil, thanks for a national geographic moment and getting my heart rate up. While I knew it had a good ending by the fact that you were blogging about it alive to tap it out… still. Wow, I have NO IDEA what I would have done. ok tarzan… all I can say is I’m glad the big one ran. I did loved watching the “little” one push the rocks over no problemo~! Thanks for sharing! 💖🙏

    1. It certainly was a shock to discover that such a large animal could approach within 30-feet of me, without realizing it. So much for my keen sense of awareness. 😂🤣 Thank you, Cindy. 💖🙏

      1. I can only Omaha one!!! Hahaha I loved you knew it!!! Pleasure always!❤️

        1. Thank you, sweet Cindy xoxoxo

          1. awww welcome my friend!💖

  10. Thank you for sharing this captivating post, Phil! I enjoyed reading it very much and it brought me much joy to imagine the adventure described in vivid words and photos!

    The bear video is phenomenal and a bit of thrilling! Can’t believe the 2nd bear was so scared of you (perhaps your eye contact was too powerful 😂🥳👍).

    1. Look into my eyes, 2nd bear 👀😂 I’m glad it ran, and equally pleased that you enjoyed my recap of that day. It was a learning experience, realizing that I’m not as aware of my surroundings as I’d hoped. 🐻 Thank you for reading and commenting, dear Annabel ~ so nice to see your smiling face to start the day. 🤗🌹

      1. Thank you, Phil! I watched the bear 🐻 video a few times and he fascinated me 😂! Can’t believe you stayed still in their presence. I would’ve scared to death😂.

        Enjoy your weekend and post more adventures with us!!😎

        1. TY Annabel, you too 🌹🌹

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