The boar nosed the perimeter of the left ridgeline. We observed a sow and cub huddled on a rock ledge the size of a door, about 12 feet below the bruin. The ledge was atop a sheer rock face of several hundred feet. The cub bobbed its head up and down, exhibiting a youthful urge to play with the approaching boar. The boar's head hung heavy off his long neck, swaying back and forth like a pendulum. Watching him slog through the snow, I envisioned the boar's mouth dripping saliva and the nose flared to capture the scent of his next victim. The cub fidgeted, torn between play and caution. The sow stood fully upright, her head nudging the cub back down onto the shelf. She remained standing, looking at the boar. Despite her smaller size, the sow had the advantage. The bears faced each other for nearly five minutes. The only way to the cub was a frontal attack. For the boar, there could be no flanking maneuver or side ambush. He would have to kill her in order to reach the cub. The boar reacted with the savvy of a seasoned predator. He backed off and bedded down. Cold, instinctive patience. For the remainder of the day, few camp chores were accomplished, as all available spotting scopes and binoculars were focused on the unfolding alpine drama. The standoff was still going strong when the curtain of night left the final act unfinished. We ate dinner and emboldened ourselves for the next day's strategy.... The party went on to kill the boar before it could get to the cub. But the anger the hunters felt toward the bear, which was trying to bring the sow into heat by killing her offspring, gave way to a measure of sympathy as they recognized that it was only acting on instinct and was a truly magnificent animal in its own right.