Pioneer Potluck: Bear country

  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 8:50pm
  • LifeFood

North Nikiski

For the last two weeks we have been seeing a 2-year-old black bear in our yard or in a neighbor’s yard. He does not bother anything, except dig up the grass in clumps and scare our dog poor black Lab Jake, to the point of his hair standing up on his neck. He lets out a yap-yap-yap bark, then he runs for the house. I tell every one he is a big chicken.

If he gets really scared he wants in the house. My biggest problem about letting him in is one day the bear will be right behind him! He has a distinct “bear bark” compared to the “moose bark.” He won’t shut up if a moose is in the yard. He follows them around, but if they even look like they are going to turn and run for him, he is gone like a black streak. Yup — to the house. Then turns and runs, barking, toward them again. One of these days I am afraid I will have a moose in the house!

Gail has had her encounter with bears through the years of living on a homestead at Boulder Point. One time, long ago — about this time of year and in an election year — I was helping my friend Lonna with a Democrat or Republican rally at the Lamplight bar. I have never been into politics — I just know who I am going to vote for and you can’t change my mind!

A rather large group gathered inside, chewing the fat and eating the goodies that were provided. Most of them were catching up on the latest news, gossip and work available, along with a few words about whoever was running. Everyone was having a good time as the band (one guitar and a person playing a set of drums) provided the entertainment. When they got through playing, the juke box was blaring. It was nice to see everyone having fun and it was tough keeping up with the happy beer drinkers. It was like old friends meeting after a summer of fishing and work on the platforms.

I came around the corner of the bar with a tray load of drinks and almost ran into my daughter, Gail. I did not see her come in. She lived on the homestead about 7 miles from us. She said, “Hi Mom. I just shot a bear. He was stalking me in the yard.”

I shot back, “Oh that’s nice, Gail,” not paying to much attention. I took about 5 more steps, whipped around and said, “YOU did WHAT?”

“I shot a bear,” she said. “He was stalking me in the yard.”

I regained my tipping tray and my speech, “Are you OK?”

“ Yes, she said. “But I did not know what to do with the thing, so I skinned it out. Do you want a nice roast or something?”

Bear meat? No, I said. She told me she cut it into roasts. She was going to tan the hide. I asked again, “Are you sure you are OK? She nodded her head and I told her I would be right back so she could tell me her bear story. I delivered the drinks and went back over for her to tell me what happened. This time I listened intently.

She had trouble with a bear stalking her goat and pigs for a few days. Her horse was deadly afraid of the bear and went into wild hysteria, letting Gail know there was a bear in the area. She got her “bear gun” out and looked out over the yard. She did not see anything so she walked toward an old car in the yard. The bear stood up. He was stalking her! She ran around the side of the car, opened the door and jumped in, slamming the door behind her. She poked the gun out the passenger window and shot the bear — dead!

Because she was there all alone, the task of gutting and skinning and cutting it up was to her. As she was telling me this, the hair on my head stood up! AND when Gail tells this to other visitors and travelers, she has the ability to make their hair stand up too.

I have had the big brown blueberry bear encounter, scaring me in our blueberry patch. I drove my car up to the corner to look for ripe berries, opened up the car door and left it open — just in case the bear was around. As I went down the ditch and up to the berry patch, I saw the big brown blueberry bear stand up and look at me!

My was hair stood up and quickly walking backward, back up the ditch to the car — around the front of the car, still backing up, found the open door, jumped in and slammed the door. Then I had the creeping feeling maybe because I left the car door open, a bear just might be in the back seat. I hurt my neck whipping my head around to see if I was on the only one in the car!

I put the car in gear and sped out of there. I bet that big brown blueberry bear wondered what that old gal was so afraid of!

So friends and neighbors in the bear country — look out for those bears! They are hungry getting ready to hibernate. Don’t leave garbage out — don’t feed dogs outdoors. They love dog food. Be aware of your surroundings. You maybe being watched!

I had the pleasure of having lunch with my good friends George and Phyllis Therriault and Barb Romine before they leave for the winter. Great food, wonderful friends, even though we do not get to see each other very often. Friends making memories are very important!

The Pioneer Potluck series is written by 50-year resident of Alaska, Ann Berg of Nikiski. Ann shares her collections of recipes from family and friends. She has gathered recipes for more that 50 years. Some are her own creation. Her love of recipes and food came from her mother, a self-taught wonderful cook. She hopes you enjoy the recipes and that the stories will bring a smile to your day. Grannie Annie can be reached at

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