Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bear Kill

I witnessed a most awesome natural event today. I observed a bear taking down a deer. Please read my story.

I had read in all of my Black Bear text books and I had been teaching for years that Black Bears were not good hunters. I taught that they were mostly lazy opportunists who would eat meat when they discovered some carrion. Today I learned differently first hand.

I had just returned to my cabin from guiding a hike to prepare some lunch for myself. As I walked from the government vehicle to my cabin I had to have walked very close to these animals but I never saw them. I opened the door to my cabin to let some fresh air in like I frequently do. As I opened my door I noticed a local resident deer that I had not seen in a while. She had her new offspring with her. The new deer was larger than a fawn but was not yet full grown either. I thought I would get a picture so I went for my camera. I always keep it close by.

About that time, I noticed a bear with two cubs that I knew. They were sneaking around my partners’ cabin stalking the deer. I could see that the bear was teaching its cubs to stalk. The mother bear would look at her cubs as if to say, “Watch this.”

Then suddenly the bear made a fast mad charge for the young deer. This bear was really moving fast. It must have gone from a stand still to 35 MPH in no time. The bear charged the deer and hit it in its flank with its head, raising its head as it hit the deer. On impact the deer made a horrible sound. The wind was knocked out of the deer and many bones were instantly broken. The deer was thrown 15 to 20 feet up in the air and the bear moved under the deer and just waited for it to come down out of the air. The bear caught the door at the shoulder and dragged it off into the forest. The captured deer was crying, the mother deer was crying frantically and the cubs were screaming. It was a dramatic moment for everyone, including myself. The mamma bear was the only calm one.

The deer didn’t have a chance. The deer’s mother was running around screaming like a human woman. I had never heard a deer cry like that before. When the captured deer stopped crying, the mother deer exited the scene never to be seen again.

The bears settled in and began to consume the deer just yards from my cabin. I began taking pictures. They ate eagerly for 90 minutes. The cubs fought over the meal like wolves competing for position. They made little bear cub sounds as they ate.

They seemed to be eating every part of the deer. I could hear them breaking bones and I could see them tearing skin and fur. Once the bears had each had their fill, they rambled off into the forest to go do other bear stuff.

After the coast was way clear, I moved in to the consumption site. I discovered nothing. There was not a drop of blood, not a bone, not a tooth and not a hoof left behind. Every part of the deer was consumed by the bears. I was amazed. It would be interesting to see the bears scat in a day or so to see how much of the deer was actually digested.

Then I moved back to the kill site to track the event on the ground. I found no bear tracks except when the bear was running the last 20 feet to hit the deer. I photographed a couple of tracks but there was literally nothing remaining anywhere from the entire event. No blood, no body parts, just a couple of bear tracks in the sand and they are probably gone by now. Gone without a trace.

I will never again teach that bears are not good hunters. I have witnessed for myself first hand that they are indeed superb and swift hunters. I will share this story with many people in my bear lectures in Yosemite. Bears are amazing animals. I learn a lot from the bears.

The message in this story is… “Always clean your plate.” “You snooze, you loose.” “May the best man win.” “No mercy.”

That was a truly awesome experience for me. I will never forget it.

PS As I thought about this event, I believe the bear hit the deer with its head instead of biting the deer in hopes that the bear could kill the deer with no blood shed. The bear was planning on the impact killing the deer. The reason a bear wants no bloodshed is because there could be other bears in the area and the other bears could easily smell the spilled blood and quickly become competitors for the kill. Also the bear could have just as easily killed the doe instead of the does offspring. The doe was really more than the bear and two cubs could eat at one sitting. Bears are great conservationists so they won't kill more than they can eat and waste it. Also by sparing the doe, she will give birth to another deer in the spring whick will be another opportunity for the bears.

Two bear cubs consuming the deer. while the mother bear watches.

Poor picture. Sorry. This is a area where the bears consumed the deer. There is not a drop of blood, a bone, a tooth or a hoof left to be seen.

Footprint of the bear as it was running for the kill. The foot print is about 7 inches wide.

Indian Rock

This is the only arch in Yosemite. It is a few hours hike to access it, but it is worth it.

Canoe Trip

Canoeing an alpine lake is awesome when you can enjoy the remote views and catch supper too. Things can change quicking though when the wind comes up and blows your canoe across the lake and you have to hike back to the truck. Next time I will start earlier and finish earlier before the winds come up.

New Record

I broke a new personal record today and I am proud of it. I went out in the mountains this week on a multi day hike. It was boring. I didn’t see any wildlife. It didn’t take long to learn why. The mosquitoes were out in full force. Since I was the only idiot in the area, all of the mosquitoes easily located me. I was very murderous today. I killed hundreds of mosquitoes and let them drop to the ground. That’s ok. The ants have to eat too. The ants had a feast today.
My personal record of killing 5 mosquitoes in one swat is now history. Today I killed 8 in one deadly swing of the hand. OK OK. It was a slow day in the wilderness. I had to do something to occupy myself. The insects are taking over the world.

Swearing In

Swearing In

I have experienced a couple of opportunities to swear people in recently in special ways that I want to share with you.

Yosemite Junior Ranger

Part of my duties as a Ranger is to train and award badges to Junior Rangers. Last year I had a family from Israel attend on of my guided nature walks. During the walk their children fulfilled all of the requirements to become a Yosemite Junior Ranger. When I award the Junior Ranger badges and swear in the new Junior Rangers, I like to draw a big crowd and invite all of the visitors on the sidewalks in the area to participate. I sometimes can draw in over a hundred visitors or so to listen to the proceedings. We had a very large crowd when I swore in the Israeli family children. The mother was taking lots of pictures as I swore them in.

Well, this year the family returned to Yosemite and they looked me up. It was great to see them again. The mother who took all of the pictures told me that she entered the best picture into a national photo contest. She said many Israeli people viewed our picture. I thought that was cool.

Swearing in a new military officer

I was roving the point one day in my class “A” uniform when a couple of military officers entered the point in their class “A” uniforms. They approached me to ask where they could conduct a short military ceremony. I lead them to an ideal location and asked them what they were planning to do. A USAF Captain was going to swear in his brother as a new second lieutenant in the US Army. I asked it I could participate in some manner so they asked me to hold the US flag for them as a back drop. I was eager to assist in any way I could.

The ceremony was short but very professional and definitely military quality. Many hundreds of people had gathered to listen to the proceedings. Following the ceremony I announced the new officer to the observing crowd and the officer received a huge and lengthy ovation. It was a very special impromptu event that was very well received. I was just proud to be part of it. I love my work as a Park Ranger.


Half Dome, Yosemite as viewed from North Dome.

North Dome and Illilouette Fall, Yosemite

More Yosemitescapes

Mount Conness, Yosemite. Named after a politician who was instramental in developing Yosemite National Park.

North Peak, Yosemite

North Peak, Yosemite

Still More

Tenaya Lake in Toulumne of Yosemite National Park. Notice the smooth glaciation on the mountains.

Toulomne Meadows near Tioga Pass at 10,000 feet.

Tioga Lake, Yosemite

Tioga Lake, Yosemite

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Trail Patrol

Part of my duties as a Ranger is to patrol hiking trails. We do this for many reasons. We look for repairs that need to be made, we make visitor contacts and we offer medical aid when necessary and more. It is always interesting going out for a few days, because you never know what adventure lies just ahead around the corner. Things can get crazy sometimes.

This last patrol took me up the 9,000 feet. It’s a different world at that elevation from even 7500 feet where I live. It is just now the beginning of spring at 9,000 feet. I saw little wild flowers everywhere. Check the wild flowers post if you like wild flowers. I have posted several pictures from my patrol trip.

I travel light. I don’t carry a tent and many other common camping items that you might think necessary. I sleep in a hammock off the ground. Usually, I don’t even carry a sleeping bag, but this trip the temp was supposed to be in the 30’s at night at 9,000 feet so I thought I had better this trip. I filter my own water as necessary from creeks and lakes so I carry almost no fluids. I cut a lot of other corners to trim down the weight and then I pack in a big heavy high resolution digital camera and all that I just gained is lost. Oh well, at least you have some pictures to view.

My campsite at Ostrander Lake on night number one.

This is some of the area that I patrol.

Eagle Friend

While on my four day trail patrol I kept hearing an eagle calling. It sounded like a young eagle because it didn’t have that deep guttural sound that mature eagles have. I noticed that the eagle seemed to be staying close to me and out in front of me. I looked for him with my binoculars but I could never spot him. I thought he might be preceding me in hopes that I would stir up a meal for him. When I was cutting a lot of grass years ago, a hawk would hover behind my bush hog waiting for me to stir up a mouse or snake or some tasty morsel. I was already familiar with this strategy.

On the morning of my last day out, my walking on the trail caused a little chipmunk to run for home. This was the eagles cue. I didn’t hear it coming and I didn’t see it until the last second. The chipmunk didn’t hear or see it coming either. The eagle swooped down and snatched the little guy off his feet and they were both gone. Not a sound was made. It was amazing.

I didn’t see or hear the eagle for the rest of the day until about 30 minutes from the completion of my itinerary. The eagle spoke very loudly and perched on a tree top just in front of me. He just sat there looking around and occasionally looking at me. We talked to each other for a few minutes then he spoke very loudly and silently few away. I’ll never forget it.

Wild Flowers

I have included some pix of a few wild flowers for those of you who may be interested. There are over 1,000 speces of wild flowers in Yosemite. Everywhere I look, I see something new.

Manzanita - A hardy chaparelle that is named after the spanish word "manzana" meaning "little apple". In the spring after the flowers fade away fruit resembling little apples appear. Local Miwak indians used to use the leaves to quense their thurst as the traveled the mountains.

I know it's difficult for most of you to imagine it, but it is just now early spring here at 10,000 feet. The flowers are beginning to pop.

Mariposa Lilly - This is one of my favorite flowers in the mountains.

These are called "Shooting Stars". That's becuase they look like shooting stars.


Marmots are friendly little guys. Every Marmot I have ever seen allowed me to get very close. Those of you who live in the east may have never seen a Marmot. They are a very large rodent, like a really big ground squirrel. They eat whatever they can find, but really like trail mix. There is a Marmot on Half Dome that will steal your bag of trail mix right out of your pack if you turn your back for a moment. There are Marmots in Mineral King, a remote village in the Sierra Nevada’s that will eat through your radiator hose with their big beaver like teeth and drink the antifreeze. It doesn’t kill them because their metabolic rate is so fast and they burn it up before it becomes toxic. I always thought if they could drink enough antifreeze they wouldn’t have to hibernate. Here are a few pix for you.

Pesty Insects

Just like every other place in the world, there are lots of mosquitoes in the high country. Except, these mosquitoes don’t have as much opportunity to draw blood as other mosquitoes that live near more warm blooded creatures. So when I hike in the mountains many times I am swarmed by mosquitoes. Sometimes I have layers of dead mosquitoes on my arms.

Now if you were a mosquito and you saw layers of dead mosquitoes on my arms, wouldn’t you stop and think? “Whoa. Maybe I shouldn’t bite this guy. Look what happened to all of those other mosquitoes.” It doesn’t work that way for a mosquito. Their instinct to draw blood in order the breed overwhelms any logical rational thinking, even if it means sudden and certain death. They are all like kamikaze pilots. It won’t hurt long.

Ear Bugs
What’s up with these big noisy bugs flying into my ears? Do they just like small cavities? Do they like the smell of ear wax, or are they just really bad drivers. That’s not right!

The Bee Fly
As I was hiking through a meadow, I heard what sounded like a thousand little micro chain saws.  After closer inspection, I realized it was many little Bee Flies. They were everywhere gathering pollen from the little flowers in the meadow. In the high country, flowers are too small for the hummingbirds so God made a smaller version of the hummingbird, the Bee Fly. They have a very long proboscis, a large body for counter balance and wings that move like a hummingbirds wings. Up in the high country, the life is small…small flowers and small insects.

Ostrander Lake

I overnighted here at the lake one night. It was beautiful and quiet.

This is an old ski hut that is used during the winter only.

Wildlife Pix

Some other animals that I frequently see on the trails.

Bear Buddy

As I was hiking on trail patrol during my recent journey, I encountered a Black Bear off to my right flank. I slowed down my pace until I learned of the bears intentions. It kept walking in my direction and soon joined me on the trail. She walked in front of me at about a 100 foot distance for maybe 15 to 20 minutes. Once in a while she would look back at me, she would pause and smell around but then continue walking with me. Finally she discovered a big rotten log with lots of grubs in it so she stopped walking with me to eat. I made a wide bearth around her and continued on while she had supper. It was fun. I kept talking to her the entire time we walked together. Awesome.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Interesting Events

Hello everyone. Sorry for the lag in my postings. It won’t happen again I promise. Some interesting events have happened since my last post. I will try to bring you up to date.

  • I am a grandfather. Caden Tristan Rose was born in March of this year in Denver, CO.
  • My son Derek reenlisted into the United States Air Force and will be transferred to Vandenberg AFB in California later this summer. That will be nice because he and his family will be only a few hours drive from me here in Yosemite. He will be a professor, teaching Space Systems Operations. That’s a sweet gig for him in a beautiful location.
  • Next month I am going to digitize my 1984 classical guitar recording with Myrna Closser on flute and re-release it. I will be adding hymn selections to the album.
  • Over the winter I published several books. Go here:
  • This spring I was in-processing for another year in Yosemite when a young lady approached me. She asked, “Are you Ranger David Rose?” “Yes.” “I purchased your book last fall, followed your instructions in detail and here I am starting my first year as a new Ranger. Thank you.” We hugged and laughed and cried at the same time together. It was a special moment that I will never forget.
  • As an Interpretive Ranger at Glacier Point, part of my duties is to present lectures during sunset at the point. We have between 200 and 600 people present each night. One evening National Graphic showed up for my talk. National Graphic is in Yosemite all summer developing material for print and their cable channel. The print photographer said he took about 500 images of me and the video photographer taped my entire presentation. So watch for me on the cover of National Geographic this winter.
  • Over the winter I completed my Wilderness EMT course. I am now nationally certified. I participate in many medical and trauma emergencies in Yosemite. I am also trained in search and rescue.
  • I have also recently completed university level courses in astronomy, geology and climate change.
  • Courses that I plan to take this winter include: “Leave No Trace” master educator and Astronomical master educator for Park Rangers.
  • I am trying to put together a trip this fall in Tennessee. I am trying to find sponsorship for a solo single leg canoe trip over the entire length of the Tennessee River (654 miles). I want to raise money to complete the Tennessee River Gorge Blueway in Chattanooga.
  • I have added a new guided hike to my repertoire of events. Last month I did my first Full Moon Guided Hike to Sentinel Dome. It was awesome. The summit of the dome offers you a 360 degree view of a large percentage of the park. From there you can view the sun setting and the moon rising at the same time. I discuss sunsets, the moon, the mountains and water falls. I also pack my giant binoculars and tripod up so everyone can view the moon up close. It’s fun.
  • I am doing a lot of hiking this summer. So far I have hiked Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. See separate postings for pictures from those hikes. Coming up soon will be hikes to Clouds Rest, the entire northern rim of the valley, Mount Hoffman and I want to climb 13,000 feet to Mount Lyell to walk on a glacier. Next year I want to climb Mount Whitney. 14,491 feet. The highest point in the contiguous United States.
  • You aught to see me when I am hiking. I use two trekking poles and gloves, my knees are wrapped up, my ankles are wrapped and I walk at a snails pace. I sometimes feel like a giant insect trekking through the mountains. Today when I was on the Yosemite Falls trail, a young man asked me…”Sir, are you out here alone?” I said “Yes, I frequently wander off. They usually find me by the end of the day though. Don’t worry.” Isn’t getting old great.

Half Dome Hike

As a Ranger at Glacier Point I have a perfect close-on view of Half Dome and I talk to many people each day regarding the safe technique of hiking there. The hike is about 18 miles round trip, but more important than distance, it is a 10,000 foot elevation gain and loss. The hike is rated "Very Strenuous". Most hikers do the hike to Half Dome in one extreme day. I just hiked it in 3 days. I was comfortable, my knees survived and I had the opportunity to camp out in the wilderness and develop relationships with a couple of new bear friends. I had a lot of fun. The last 440 feet of the distance, the hiker has to pull himself up on cables to the summit. The reward is worth the effort. I have included a few pictures from my hike to Half Dome. Enjoy.