Bear Country

There are many places in Montana that are bear country.   People have a tendency to think of bear country as the big woods, but in many cases is the open prairies that surround the woods. This summer I carried bear spray in my truck.   When I surveyed places where I felt that it was potential bear country, because signs told me or my gut said bears are possible here I strapped on my can of bear spray when I got out to do my surveys.

Not all likely bear places have signs like this.

Not all likely bear places have signs like this.

Only once this year did I feel uneasy about wild animals.   It was a place that was not really bear habitat, but mountain lion habitat.   They actually scare me more because they are so stealthy. I felt the whole time like I was being watched.    I got my business done and got out of there.   All the time singing any song I could think of or make up, making my body big and purposeful.

No matter where you go, no matter how short the time there if you are in bear country remember your bear spray.

Song of the Coyote

Spirited Coyote by Gretchen Grunt

This morning just before the sun peeked over the Eastern rise I was laying in bed listening to the birds start to wake up and begin to sing their morning songs.   In those early moments of solitude listening to the birds working towards a crescendo,  I suddenly heard a different song, the song of the coyote.

We have a coyotes who live and travel behind our place.   I have seen tracks and other evidence of their presence, but seldom hear them and have only once seen them.

This morning their song bounced all around, echoing off the gentle rolling hills and deep valleys behind our home.   It made them sound like they were all around.   As I lay there listening, I wondered what does a coyote karaoke party look like.   Do they all lift their heads and sing at once in three-part harmony?  Or is it some kind of “smack down,” where when one stops another picks up trying to top the last coyote?   There are cow-calf pairs in the rangeland behind us.    Had they just found dinner and the song was that of their celebration and calling the rest of their family in for a feast?

Hours later as  I  reflect on this, I am still not sure what kind of song was being sung.  The song of the coyote always feels to me a sort of eerie sort of tune.    I liken it to listening to the opera, enjoying that which your ear hears but not sure if you should be enjoying it all.   Are they singing about something joyous or do those words tell a sad tale that would bring a tear to your eye? Only the family of coyotes know the answer to this question.