I was sitting twelve feet above the ground in my bowhunting stand, deep in a cedar swamp. Twenty-five yards in front of me, three little bear cubs were feeding on a bait pile. Somewhere below and behind me was a large sow bear, intent on protecting her cubs. This was making me a little nervous. To make matters worse, it was quickly getting dark.
This was not exactly the best situation to be in. Black bears are normally afraid of man and attacks are rare. However, most black bear attacks that do occur are when humans get too close to a bear’s cubs or come between the sow and cubs. That’s exactly where I was.
The sow and the three yearling cubs had come to the bait about an hour earlier. I had become so entranced in watching them, that I didn’t realize it was getting dark. The sow had held back as the cubs were feeding, watching for danger. Then, I suddenly realized that the sow was missing. She had silently slipped away, to check the area and to watch, so no harm would come to her cubs. Bears can charge through the woods, making about as much noise as a freight train. But most of the time they are as silent as mist rolling through.
She reappeared once to check on the cubs, and then suddenly she was gone again. One minute she was there, and then she wasn’t. Shortly thereafter, I got a glimpse of her moving past me on the right. Then I heard a sound that will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Then sow had made a “huff” sound. That’s a sound bears make when they are alarmed or angry. It had come from behind and below me. She had either scented me in the treestand or where I had walked in earlier.
This is when your imagination becomes your enemy. You know the odds are that she won’t come up the tree after you. But she might! You are only twelve feet high in your treestand. A distance, that from watching bears, you know she can scale in about one second. That doesn’t give you much time. So, if the bear comes up the tree should you defend yourself with an arrow or your hunting knife? If you don’t do something soon, it will be too dark to see anything. It can get really dark in a cedar swamp.
Why didn’t I make a lot of noise when they first came in, and scare them off? If I make noise now, with her so close, and me between her and the cubs, will she run or will she charge? I was suddenly remembering all the stories of bear attacks, that I had ever heard. My imagination has now kicked into overdrive. I am fast becoming bear food!
Okay, enough of that. It’s getting dark and it’s time for action and there is only one option. I took my hunting knife and began striking the back of the blade, against my metal tree stand. The noise it made seemed extremely loud in the quiet woods. With the first couple of hits, pandemonium erupted, as the sow letting out a big “woof”, charged past me, towards the cubs. The woods were suddenly filled with the sounds of breaking brush, as the bears fled. A bear that is frightened, doesn’t bother going around small trees, limbs or brush. It will simply go through or over them.
The sound faded away, and the woods quickly became quiet again. I gathered my things and climbed down from the tree stand. Then headed for my truck. I was thankful for an exciting evening in God’s great outdoors.
If you find yourself feeling like you’re up a tree without any options, don’t give up quite yet. There’s hope. The Lord promised to give us rest from the weariness, rest from our struggles.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
Jesus says to bring it to Him, whatever “IT” is for you. Maybe you really are in a tree with bears upset with you. That’s as good as time as any to start praying. He’s telling us to bring our troubles to Him, and to walk in His ways. So, see? Whether you’re up a tree or just down and out, He is offering us a place to turn to, and place to find rest for our souls.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
What is it you’re facing? Nobody goes into battle alone. We can stand with you. Let us know in the comments below how we can pray for you, or by submitting your story.
He will fight for you.