Hunter Answers Nature’s Call, Shoots Grizzly It’s definitely one of those “only in Alaska” stories, but Chris Yeager swears he was simply in the woods answering nature’s call when he shot his first grizzly bear. It was late May when the 43-year-old Alaskan was planning to check a black bear bait station he had set up in the mountains about 140 miles north of Fairbanks. Yeager told the Fairbanks News-Miner he stopped at the Hilltop Cafe for “one of those big breakfast omelets that are about 18 inches wide and 4 inches deep.” Later, down the road apiece and feeling the need to answer nature’s call, Yeager pulled over, grabbed a roll of toilet paper, his .460-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and headed into the woods. He was searching for “the right spot” to do his business when he heard a sound from behind him and turned around. There was a big inland grizzly bearing down on him, literally and figuratively. “He was really close,” Yeager said “I was smelling his breath.” You sure that was his breath, Chris? At that point, there was little Yeager could do but react. He pulled the pistol and fired three point-blank shots at the bear, hitting it all three times. A later inspection of the hide revealed all three shots had completely penetrated the grizzly. Fortunately, the hunter had purchased a grizzly license just two days before his encounter. As a result, he can keep his 6-foot, 3-inch trophy hide, the 21-inch skull and the 100-pounds of Italian sausage he had made from the meat. “It’s not really the way I envisioned getting my first grizzly,” Yeager said.
Fowl Weather Some furious thunderstorms that rattled through mid-Texas early in the year resulted in heavy downpours, some severe lightning, power failures–and more than two dozen dead ducks raining down on Martha Hughes’ roof and surrounding property. When the fierce thunderstorm subsided in Decatur, a community located northwest of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, Hughes discovered 26 dead mergansers on her roof, yard and driveway, according to the Wise County Messenger newspaper. Hughes surmised that the small red-headed ducks were all flying together when a single lightning bolt struck them, the same strike that caused a fireball when it hit a nearby electrical transformer. Jeremy Meador, a Decatur animal control officer who responded to the scene, said the ducks were indeed, uh, extra crispy. “They looked like they were charred, burned,” he said. Hughes told the local newspaper that some local bird lovers also discovered the roasted ducks. Neighborhood cats apparently hauled away several of the 26 roasted fowl prior to animal control’s arrival on the scene.
Poacher Picks Right Day, Wrong Warden A game law violator from Ohio tried to get away with illegally taking a trophy deer by choosing one day when most folks in that part of the country don’t venture far from their living rooms. Court records show Steve Niese was charged–and subsequently convicted–of shooting a deer with an illegal weapon (a rifle), during a closed season and without landowner permission last November 18. The date is particularly important, folks. Why? Because if you reside within two or three states of Ohio, you know on that particular Saturday the Ohio State University Buckeye football team met the devil incarnate team from the north, the University of Michigan Wolverines, in a game that would decide the number one-ranked college football team in the country. And anyone familiar with Ohio knows that three things are important to Buckeye staters: Family, religion and OSU football–and not necessarily in that order. Niese was sentenced in Findlay Municipal Court to 90 days in jail with 60 days suspended and fined $550. His hunting privileges were suspended for three years. He was also ordered to forfeit a .30/06 rifle, the deer and its trophy rack that green-scored 173. Arresting wildlife officer Kirk Kiefer may have been about the only Ohioan (besides the convicted poacher) who wasn’t perched in front of a television that Saturday afternoon. “Maybe the guy thought it was a good time to poach a deer because Ohio State and Michigan were playing,” Kiefer told the Toledo Blade. “Unfortunately (for the poacher) I’m from Indiana and could care less.”
Defensive Driving: By The Buck A couple of fresh recruits for the Abington, Mass. Police Department were recently engaged in emergency vehicular control training at a private track when they received a driving skill test administered by an unlikely instructor–an 8-point whitetail buck. Trainees Matthew Owings and Antonio Gentile were driving approximately 50 miles per hour on a cone-marked slalom course when an 8-point buck leapt in front of their vehicle. The ensuing collision severely damaged the training cruiser and deployed the vehicle’s front airbags. The two troopers-in-training were subsequently treated for minor injuries. The buck wasn’t as fortunate–becoming venison steaks for one of the agencies participating in the training. Abington Police Chief David Majenski told the Patriot Ledger newspaper that the training is designed to hone police cruiser driving skills; including backing up, turning, driving in slow-speed and higher-speed pursuits, stopping and skidding. Next year, they might want to expand the curriculum to include avoiding deer on the highway.
Water Hazard After a full day of watching PGA golf and perhaps taking one too many trips to the hospitality tent, one of the 134,000 spectators at last year’s Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament at Hilton Head Island, S.C. decided to strip down and take a dip in a course lagoon. Everything was going just fine until Dennis Burnett, 22, who was wearing only his skivvies, spotted an 8-foot alligator making a beeline toward him. The Island Packet newspaper reported that security personnel later discovered “a wet man in his underwear” hiding in some golf course bushes. “He was very thankful to see the officers, considering his day could have been much worse,” said Sea Pines security director George Breed. Burnett was charged with one count of public disorderly conduct.
What Would Barney Do? Raymond, Miss. Police Chief Frank Prince is a no-nonsense, matter-of-fact kind of guy. At least that’s our impression after hearing about the incident occurring at the Raymond Hardware Store this spring, when a big whitetail deer came crashing through the front window, scattering customers and generally raising havoc. The chief soon arrived at the scene, armed with a .22 cal. rifle. Here’s the money quote from the (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion Ledger: “I cornered her in a back room, and made sure everybody was out of the store. I looked at her. She looked at me. She charged. I shot her straight between the eyes and she went down.” Case closed.
Poodle Tug o’ War A 60-year-old woman recently found herself in a tug of war with a coyote in a Lincolnwood, Illinois shopping mall parking lot, with her miniature poodle as the unfortunate object of their competition. According to the Chicago Tribune, the coyote grabbed Cissy Lacks’ pet by its hindquarters and was prepared to turn it into a happy meal when the retired high school English teacher decided to make a contest out of it. Lacks later said the fight-for-fifi lasted “a brutally long 15 seconds.” In the course of the battle, she yelled, kicked the attacker, and smacked it with a bag of clothes she was carrying. Finally, the coyote released its grip, and simply trotted off. “It sauntered away as if nothing happened,” she said. “It just seemed to lose interest. I can’t say I was heroic and fought it off. It’s even scarier because of that.” The Tribune story noted that the parking lot showdown was among the most brazen in a series of recent coyote attacks in the Chicago suburbs. Coyotes recently killed a terrier on a Northfield front lawn, a beagle in a Glencoe back yard and a 3 1/2-pound Yorkshire terrier snatched in front of its owner outside an Arlington Heights home. Our solution? Own bigger dogs.
Venison? That’ll be Red Wine A whitetail doe smashed through the glass entry door of a downtown Fond du Lac, Wisc. specialty wine store, miraculously passing from the front to the rear of the building without breaking even one of the store’s 600 bottles of palate-pleasing vintages. At the time of the deer’s abrupt, store-crashing entrance, shop owner Sara Cujak was one aisle over from the door serving a customer. She said the doe couldn’t get traction on the hardwood floors, as it frantically slid and crawled through her Cabernet section. “I was showing a customer a wine that I knew her husband would like and thank God it was Merlot and not a Cab,” she said. According to the Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper, Cujak phoned the nearby Connect Cafe and asked one of the workers to hurry over and open her shop’s back door. Then, as she guarded her bottles and glassware, she gently coaxed the injured and confused animal safely outside. Cujak later said she was just relieved that no one was injured during the incident and expressed amazement that nothing in her shop–where everything is breakable–was damaged. “It’s not a bull in a china shop, it’s a deer in a wine market,” she told the newspaper. Though not one to normally imbibe during business hours, when things finally settled down, the proprietor of Cujak’s Wine Market relaxed while sipping a glass of Garnacha. Why a red wine, you may ask? “It goes good with venison,” said Cujak.
Rabid Response A pair of 60-something golfing buddies, Ira Girard and Jerry Crown, were finishing up on the 18th green at Tucson Arizona’s Skyline Country Club when a full-grown bobcat raced toward the pair in full attack mode. “Jerry saw the bobcat and tried to nudge him away with his golf club,” Girard told a reporter from a local television station. “As soon as he did that, the bobcat jumped on his arm, and up on his chest, and attacked him pretty savagely.” The bobcat–which subsequently tested positive for rabies–attached itself to the startled golfer’s chest like a squirrel climbing a tree, all the while snapping and snarling. Despite the savage attack, the 69-year-old Crown was able to grab the crazed cat the slam it to the ground. “At that time, I hit him and Jerry hit him with his club,” Girard said. “We made sure that it was, in fact, dead.” The injured golfer underwent the extended medical treatment necessary for rabies, but he won’t soon forget his encounter with the teed-off wildcat.
Watch Your Gas Hole Here’s some advice for anglers and boaters reeling from continued high gas prices: When you’re filling your boat with gas, make sure you put the pump nozzle in the gas tank and not in the fishing rod holder. And, if by chance you happen to mistake the fuel intake holes on your craft, let’s hope you’d recognize your error before you pump 100 gallons of pricey petroleum product overflowing into the water at a marina. The Palm Beach Post reports the fueling mishap required the response of the Martin County Fire Rescue Hazmat team to Finest Kid Marina fuel dock in Port Salerno, Fla. According to the report, only about 15 gallons went into the water around the fuel dock. Hazmat crewmembers towed the boat from the fuel dock to a safe location, where they secured the fuel, said Jeff Alter, Fire Rescue bureau chief.
Squirrel Problem? Try Bear Spray! (photo 12) There’s a squirrel loose inside your house. Do you: A. Call a professional nuisance animal trapper? B. Open all the doors and windows and try to chase it back outside? C. Use pepper spray? A man in Rochester, NY was not interested in simply trapping or extricating the bushy-tailed rodent that found its way into his home recently. No sir, he was prepared to teach that little acorn-eating bugger a lesson it would not soon forget. He opted for pepper spray–the same hard-hitting compound that wildlife authorities recommend to ward off angry, charging, 800-pound grizzly bears in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. The squirrel, apparently, was not deterred by the aerosol assault. Responding paramedics treated five people inside the house for exposure to pepper spray, washing the noxious chemical from the victim’s eyes and nasal passages. Firefighters also placed fans around the house to help clear the spray-filled air. And the pesky squirrel? “When the fire department went in and opened up all of the windows, the squirrel decided to leave,” Rochester Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Scott Williams told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I guess he figured his work there was done.”

Here’s more refreshing outdoor wackiness served up from our bottomless well of amazing tales that you just can’t make up!