Column: Bear takes top spot on bucket list

Published 12:26 pm Sunday, June 13, 2021

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There is nothing more exciting than seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat, observing it, interacting with it, and during turkey season, communicating with it. Even more exciting is when one finds its way into civilization.

Natchez’s string of bear sightings this past week was more than likely my fault. I get a newsletter each month from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and they had an article about bear sightings in May. ‘It would be so cool if I could do a story, and take pictures of one,’ I thought to myself. Well, I got that chance. I’m sorry. I have a knack to think things into existence.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and Natchez Police Chief Joseph Daughtry were on scene Wednesday when I saw my first bear. I did not fear for my safety like I may have if I was in a tree stand and saw one. It was also fascinating to see an animal I had always heard about but never got the chance to see with my own eyes.

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Until Wednesday, the coolest wildlife encounter I ever had was when I saw a beaver cannonball into Workinger Bayou close to Black River Lake in Monterey. Don’t get me wrong, I have spooked squirrels, rabbits and deer many times in the woods, but I had never seen a beaver in person.

There is an exhilarating rush when I see an animal in the woods. The first time I laid eyes on a turkey gobbling its head off as it strutted across a field, I was in awe.

Again, it is one thing to see an animal on TV, or in photographs, but it is another thing to come face to face with one. Once, an alligator tried to taste my crank-bait. Another time a skunk decided to investigate me as I stood motionless in a hayfield during deer season.

Thank you Natchez bear for checking a box on my bucket list of animal encounters. I guess now I have alligator snapping turtles, feral hogs, foxes, bobcats and black panthers left to check off.