“Maybe slightly less dangerous than poking a bear? I have lived in ‘bear country’ since 2001. I have seen them many times over the decades, crossing the road, popping up in yards around town, and even encountering them on my own property. Where I live, we only have black bears, which are a bit more timid than brown bears. The common wisdom when encountering a black bear is to make yourself appear as big as possible (if you have a jacket, open it up and raise it above your head, for example), make a lot of noise, and back away slowly. This is in contrast to the better known ‘play dead’ strategy when encountering the much larger and often more aggressive brown bear species.
Being a nearly life-long martial artist, a generally fit and strongish (delusional) male, I have always entertained the notion that if it came down to it, I could beat a bear in a fist fight (setting aside for the moment they lack the capacity to make a fist). Black bears are roughly human sized and sometimes human weight, depending on the time of year.
In 2019, we had a bear rip the door off our chicken coop and make off with a few of our chickens. I propped the door back in place and barricaded it for the night with logs while I waited for some new, bear-proof hardware to arrive that we immediately ordered. Later that night, at around 10pm, I looked out the back window and noticed the light in the coop wasn’t on. I thought maybe having it on all night might deter the bear from coming back for seconds. So, with my wife and kids in bed, I put on my headlamp, grabbed a sword I happened to have, and walked down the hill to the coop. Fifteen feet from the structure, I heard a branch snap. I turned to my left, and a dozen or so feet away and at least six feet above the ground were two, large, green eye shines. I can’t really describe that deep, primal, instinctual fear I immediately felt when facing down a large predator, so close, and at night. The bear wasn’t aggressive. I managed to remain calm. I held the sword directly out in front of me, and I slowly walked backwards up my hill.
I don’t know where that ranks in the ‘dumbest things I’ve ever done’ list, but despite that encounter, there’s STILL that unhinged bit of ego in me that thinks I could beat up a bear if I had to. Plunger Monkey embodies and sometimes exaggerates many aspects of who I am, and illogical fearlessness in needlessly dangerous situations is one of them.”