The one very obvious danger in tracking a bear in the Okefenokee is that you just might find what you're looking for. If you're in a place where a bear has been then you're in a place where the bear may return. I'm a big fan of bear watching as long as the bear in being featured on the Discovery channel. As far as being a big fan of getting out there with the bears and sharing personal space with them, not so much.
From State Route 177, which runs from Edith Georgia to the park in the Okefenokee, you might never notice the power poles running parallel to the road have signs of a different nature. Bears sharpen their claws on power poles like cats do on sofas. When a bear claws up a power pole it shows other bears that the pole is being clawed upon by a larger, or smaller bear. I'm five foot ten inches tall, and some of the claw marks were a couple of feet higher than my head. That's not very comforting. When being attacked by a bear, it's good to have a very, very, very small bear attacking you.
Actually, that's dead wrong. If a baby bear attacks you that means there likely is a mother bear nearby. She will come and discuss the nature of the disagreement between you and the offspring of the she bear. You are not going to like this conversation as it will be very one sided.
Still, I can't help but think there are bears out there and there are bears out there. Any bear who can stand up and reach eight feet high is going to be quite a bear. I'm thinking this while taking the photo and it does occur to me that I am standing in the same spot as the bear was standing. Right here was a bear able to reach that high. Maybe I have enough photos of the pole. Time to go.
There is a smaller, short pole near a telephone pedestal and it's been clawed to hell and back. It looks much like gorram Reavers attacked it. I'm just guessing, but I think that bears like power poles and other processed wood because it doesn't have turpentine. But I'm guessing. Is there a bear person in the house?
I look for bear hair, or pieces of claws, or any bear sign other than the clawed poles, but couldn't find anything at all. I did find this tiny flower, however, and that made me feel better, knowing that someone out there would see it, and like its beauty.
After carefully scouting around for a while, I had to leave, and as I left I noticed a ditch half full of water. Last year at this time, water was hard to come by. This year, the area is so flooded that people can catch fish right off their back porches. Some folks are complaining that the river have been in the woods so long their catching fish with ticks on them.
But I digress.
I get out of the truck and look for tracks in the mud, and I see a set of track that look larger than what I see when there are wild pig, deer, or something like that. Below is the photo.
Okay, if nothing else happens, I want someone to say, "Mike Firesmith, I really appreciate the fact that you waded out there in that thick mud trying to get that perfect shot. I waded out into the mud, trying to get that perfect shot. Instead, I got the photo below. It's big enough, but it might have been made by aliens for all I can tell of it.
The shot below is that of a bear. It cannot be anything else on earth but a bear, or a damn good fraud. I have found my bear. Now, I want someone to ask, "Mike Firesmith, now that you're out there in ankle deep mud, what happens if the bear turns around and sees you?"
I might have all the track shots I need. Time to go.