Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
February 14th, 2005

Nittany Lions, Bullfighters and Bears, Oh My!
By Frank Reid

I love Central Pennsylvania. There is some wonderful fishing to be found, so every year in May, I pack up the camping gear (which for me entails filling the bed of my pickup truck with the entire contents of my garage) and head up there to meet with friends and fish Penns Creek and the environs.

Last year's trip went fine. Got up there on Saturday and fished my brains out. On Tuesday, I cooked a huge kettle of my famous Hungarian Barley Stew, for 30 or so of my closest buddies. On Thursday, it was Lobster Night at the Millheim Hotel. Fished all day and ate two lobsters that night. Life doesn't get much better than that.

After returning from the hotel, I went to my brand-spankin'-new Kelty tent-mahal (20' X 17' tent), grabbed a sixer of Yuengling and walked up to my friend's trailer in the campground to go over the next day's plans. At about 11:30, I decide to pack it in and head back down the trail to my tent.

As I crossed the meadow, I heard a bit of a ruckus behind my tent. Hmm, time to go investigate. I turned the corner of the tent and found a giant, black throw rug going through my cooler. At that moment, another friend of mine, Wolfy, in the next tent growls in a sleepy voice; "Frank, is that you?" Well, I sized up the situation and calmly replied; "BEEAAAAARRRR!"

The bear removes his nose from my cooler, raises himself on his hind legs to his full six feet height, looks me straight in the eye, huffs twice and then hisses at me. This is bear talk for "get away from my munchies or I'm gonna give you such a smack!"

I flash my flashlight in his eyes and gently explain to him that he's chowing down my food and beer and ask him politely to leave. Harking back to stories of Dr. Dolittle, I use bear talk, so this came out of my mouth sounding like the scream of a 12-year-old girl at a Michael Jackson concert.

About this time, Wolfy makes an appearance in his best bear fighting outfit. Kinda like a bullfighter's suit of lights. In this case, it's a t-shirt and BVDs. He spotlights the bear with his light. Hah Ha! We now have this guy outnumbered. Between my intelligent repartee, two flashlights and Wolfy's bear fighting outfit, Yogi decides that discretion is the better part of valor. He drops to all fours, turns and lopes off into the woods. After about 15 yards, he turns and sits down. He's found the mother load in that cooler and is not about to abandon it.

Quickly, Wolfy and I decide on a strategy. I run up to the trailer, borrow a large pot and wooden spoon and dash back down to the meadow. We scream at the bear and pound on the pot. The bear gets up and goes over behind Wolfy's tent and sits back down.

Okay, plan B. I decide to get in my truck, put the headlights on and honk the horn. As I head for the truck, the bear decides it's a good time to come out and finish his repast. Wolfy reluctantly decides to join me in the truck. To this day, I have no idea how he got into the passenger seat of my locked truck before I even reached it.

Well, this did the trick. Our reluctant heroes won the day. The bear shambles deeper into the woods, leaving us in peace. I get out and survey the damage. The bear has completely destroyed the contents of my cooler. Two quarts of slightly fermented barley stew are gone, along with half a ten-pound loaf of rye bread, a half-gallon of milk, two pounds of butter, and three pints of sour cream. Well, I can at least salvage the half rack of Yuengling. I clean up the mess and decide to spend the night in my friend's trailer. Wolfy decides to hit one of the group's cabins. Didn't even bother to change, just showed up at the door. Eeeww! Don't you hate those "come as you are" parties?

In the morning, I go back down to my tent. Yogi had come back during the night. Since the cooler was gone, he decided to check out the contents of my tent. I've gotta teach that guy how to use a zipper. He sliced open the front of the tent and tossed the place. There was no food in there, but he did find my back pain medicine bottle. I had about 40 flexaril in there along with 10 darvocet. Well, the medicine bottle was crushed on the floor (should have gotten the child proof lids). Half the flexaril were gone and all of the nice, sugar-coated darvocet were missing. The tent was toast. He had tried to make a new exit door out the back to no avail. There was just enough damage to the stress point that the tent would no longer hold together.

So, barley stew, sour cream, butter, and drugs. The camp ground owner did mention that there had been a bear at the dumpsters overnight with a bad case of the projectile diarrhea. I figure that bear had a real good fiber and grease system flush in the works.

I decided to sleep in a local cabin that Friday night and at the local B&B on Saturday. I had to stay around 'cause the green drakes decided to hatch two weeks early, but I did not want to meet up with a high-colonic-loving, drug-crazed junky bear looking for some Captain Crunch and more milk. Besides, my tent was now cross ventilated and would not keep out the mosquitoes.

By the way, before the night was out, everyone in the little hamlet near the campground knew me as the idiot that left a cooler out next to his tent. I even heard about it at the corner grill and grocery store in town. Oh well, it gave me reason to stay at the cabin Friday night and take everyone's poker money. ~ Frank Reid

About Frank:

Born and raised in Southern California, my mother taught me to love fishing. I would fish from the piers around Los Angeles as all my friends hung out on the beach. At age 19, I joined the U.S. Air Force to see the world and liked what I saw, so stayed in for 23 years, finally retiring in 2000. I've lived and fished all over the US and the globe, from the deserts of California to the Philippines, Germany, South Korea, England, beautiful Omaha, Nebraska and about 1,000 other places in between. These travels taught me to fish for whatever happens to be in the local water. I now work in the Baltimore area as a computer consultant trying to earn enough to buy that next new rod or go on that next trip. My wife is Brenda (who's quilting addiction rivals my fly fishing/tying obsession) and we have two lovely daughters. ~ FR
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