Monday, May 30, 2011

Bear trouble

This post is a little different from my usual; funny in some ways, but not so much to the person involved I suppose. Living out here in the country as I do, encounters with the local wildlife are to be expected. If you have problems it is generally expected that you will handle them yourself. That’s the theory anyway, although it doesn’t always work out that way. It all started a few days ago.

I received an email from a neighbor up on the hill behind me. A bear had broken into her chicken coop a couple of times and killed some chickens. My neighbor moved here from the city a number of years ago, and she is now a County Supervisor. She can be expected to do things by the book. She called the Federal Trapper who’s job it is to take care of problem animals like coyotes, cougars, and bears which prey on domestic livestock. That usually means on ranches where they are suffering losses of cattle and sheep, not a few chickens in a backyard coop; but my neighbor is a County Supervisor, right?

The trapper came out that afternoon and set a large cage type bear trap. He told my neighbor that if the bear came back again that night, and failed to get caught in the trap, he would be back in the morning with dogs. Long story short, that is what happened. The trapper’s dogs treed the bear and it was dispatched. End of story; but not quite.

I heard from my neighbor again this morning. She has a couple of house dogs, just mixed breed pets. Last night the dogs started raising a fuss, and my neighbor looked out the window in the direction of the chicken coop. There was a bear on her porch looking back at her from about 2 feet away! She hit the panic button, took the dogs with her, and hid in the bedroom where she called the trapper again. When the trapper had killed the first bear he had left the trap at her place, but he had shut it down. Since this bear hadn’t killed any chickens, he couldn’t do much about it, and it is doubtful if he could get a permit to take another bear from there anyway. He came out again this morning and prowled around the neighborhood a little bit. Come to find out, another neighbor close by had shot an old horse and hadn’t gotten around to burying it yet. In effect, a built in bait pile! He told my neighbor that she can expect to have bears scavenging around for awhile. Fun times!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trial run

My new ENO hammock arrived a couple of days ago and I wanted to set it up just to get the “hang” of it, so to speak. Let me preface by saying that my main interest in a hammock is the comfort many “swingers” claim they provide. Especially those with bad backs! I’ve had chronic back problems for years, and it has been many years since I have slept on the ground. My standard camp setup is an army style cot with a foam pad. My back packing days are far behind me, so I am not concerned with weight or bulk. Even back when I was packing with horses and mules, I took along a light weight folding camp cot. The claims by hammock users of the superior comfort they provide, without a sore back in the morning, lured me on; and I decided I just had to give it a try. So new hammock in hand, I loaded the dogs in the pickup and took a drive up the mountain behind my house.

ENO hammock

There was no threat of rain, but I put up a tarp anyway for the shade it provided. Hanging the hammock between a couple of trees was a simple matter. I put a Thermarest pad in it just as if I was actually camping, and even tossed in a sleeping bag.

First impressions:

I bought the Doublenest model, and I’m glad I did. It provides some wiggle room for a single person. If 2 people actually use one of these I assume they must be VERY close friends who like to cuddle. I’ve never used a mosquito net so I see no reason why I should suddenly need a hammock with a built in net.

The only way I could keep the sleeping pad from sliding out the end was to tie it to the carabiner behind my head using the straps at the end of the pad.

A pillow is necessary, at least for me.

Could I sleep comfortably on my back in this hammock? Not a chance; but then I don’t normally sleep on my back.

Can I lay on my side in this hammock? Well sort of.

Could I sleep comfortably like this? Remains to be seen.

Right now I have mixed impressions. I suspect there may be a learning curve to sleeping in a hammock, but I’ll give it a good honest try later this summer when I start doing some serious camping. Even so, I can see where it might be a handy item to have along just for lounging around in a camp during the day. In fact it folds up so small that I might just leave it in the truck all the time, in case I want to hang out in a shady spot through the middle of the day. It only takes a couple of minutes to sling it between trees.