Come along with me on an adventure today!
Today started like most days volunteering here at Holton Creek River Camp on the the Beautiful Suwanee River in North Florida. It was a bit chilly when I first went out to do my daily dose of exercise. Cold, but not as cold as it probably was back in my old home state of Tennessee. Here the morning low was somewhere in the low thirties. After taking a shower and cooking up a breakfast of eggs, bacon and some wonderful protein pancakes my lovely slowpokes sole mate and partner, Gina prepared, I harnessed up my two fur babies and set out for the first true walk of the day.
My Uncle Ed used to to talk to his faithful wire haired terrier Tina constantly telling her every detail of what was to come next in the day. I have a lot of stories about those conversations, for now let’s just say that I picked up a lot of those habits of my Uncle Ed because I admired the close relationship he had with his fur baby. So that being said, I discussed the details of where we were going and how long we were going to be gone with both Lucy and Barkley. Both of them agreed to the project plan for the morning and we set out down Suwanee Water Management District Road 20-18 for a fairly short two mile jaunt in the brisk air of a Mid-January morning in probably one of the most remote areas in North Florida. I mean after all, It is four miles down a pot holed sand road to get to this Camp if you are not traveling by Kayak or Canoe.
The walk started out like any other, lots of stops to check out the smells, lots of pee breaks and a couple chances for me to get sand kicked in my face from my two babies while we both try to cover ‘leavings’ at the same time.
This walk usually takes about 30 minutes more or less. The subject of this article took less than 6 seconds of that time! So about now you are probably saying something like, “get to the point!”. But this is the slowpokes adventures blog and here you get what you pay for. I like to slow it down a bit. After all, I am a slowpoke!
So, anyways, the gang and I, were doing our normal behaviors when we heard the rustle of leaves to our left side in a glade of palmettos. Then, from about twenty yards away, I saw the charging image of a somewhat short, very dark, black furred mammal. Heading in a parallel direction to our party, my first thought was, wow this creature can really run. I was close enough to be able to see the enormously powerful front legs tensing in bipedal kinetic energy. Marvelous. Fantastic. My first Black Bear sighting in Florida! And as quick as that it was over, the black image disappeared into the palmetto glade not to be seen again.
I had read and had been informed that the bears in this region were smallish and this is true for this bear as well. But at about one hundred twenty pounds or so, have no doubt this is still a bear. This bear, I am fairly certain was a young female. From my research, female bears out and about in January are probably those without cubs as black bears den in the winter, even here in Florida.
The sighting happened so quickly there were no chance for a photo. The photo attached above is as close as I could come to a bear that looked like the bear I saw, although the above bear is probably significantly larger. Heck, I couldn’t have even gotten the camera out of my pocket before that bear was gone. But I don’t feel too bad about that part of it, Lucy and Barkley didn’t even know about her until after she was gone. They smelled the air and picked up her scent after she had already disappeared. The guys pulled and raised their heads a bit but they remained quiet. Most dogs I have learned have a unique sense of when it is okay to make a bunch of noise, and when it is best to keep the snout shut. This is also one time where it paid off to be a bipedal primate as I had the height advantage to see over the palmettos.
As I alluded to earlier, the sighting was over in a flash. But it is one of those times I will remember forever. This was my best wildlife sighting as of yet in Florida. Later in the day, I shared my adventure with a fellow hiker and nature enthusiast who visited Holton Creek. Although he did not see any bears today, he did see a large buck white tailed deer crossing the Suwanee River, in the distance he said he heard coyotes who were most likely a posse in pursuit. It seems that I was not the only one to have a vivid nature experience today. Most of the time, I and my fellow amateur naturalists can relish in seeing only the signs of large mammals but their image is stealth to us. Today was one of those rare days when we were blessed with the true grandeur of the natural world and an experience that as organic and real as the earth itself. Thank you for reading and coming along with me on this adventure.