By Charles Towne 

Face the danger!

The bear was angry.

A four-hundred-pound male, he charged me for the fourth time, finally ending up within ten feet of me.  I knew that at this distance if he decided to attack he could be on me in less time than it takes to blink.  He raged at me, popping his jaws, cussing me out in bear language, at least that is what I think he was doing.  He stood sideways to me in order to make himself appear larger as he slapped the ground and popped his jaws.  All of his movements were intended to let me know that he was about the biggest, baddest bear in those parts, and I believed him.

I stood there with my arms raised over my head to appear larger as I talked to him in as calm a voice as I could muster.  (I am here to attest to the fact that it is not easy to appear calm when faced with such a situation!) Finally, with a little more moaning, threatening me with mayhem all the while, he turned his back and walked away, to disappear in the thick underbrush that surrounded me.  I could hear him as he circled me out there in the scrub, and suddenly… all was silent.

It was only then that I started breathing again.

Contrary to the popular myth, bears don’t growl, but they can sure let you know when they are ticked off.  It was one of those extraordinary times in my life when I really felt alive.  As a zoo director and breeder of big cats, as well as a wildlife photographer over the years, I have learned some things about myself.

I have learned to face the danger.

In my early years, I was a runner, but no longer.  If I were to turn my back and run away in the above situation it would have invited attack which just might not have been very good for my complexion, if you get my meaning.

When we are faced by big challenges, hard decisions, it could be involving personal relationships, a large financial crisis, an issue involving your health, or anything important, it is always best to confront it head-on.

It is a fact that when we go before an all-powerful God in prayer we are in the presence of absolute power.  At that time, and in that place, the infinite meets with the finite.  The bear could have killed me, but our friend God yearns to give us His friendship, and eternal life.  Stand still my friend, don’t run; you are in the presence of the living God.

Your prayer

Dear Papa, Holy God, You are awesome in your power, merciful in your love, tender in your compassion, abundant in your grace and generous in your mercy.  How can it be that you love me with such an incredible love?  Hold me close, wrap me in your love, embrace me and kiss away all of my hurts and help me to bring you pleasure.  You created me to be your forever friend and companion  and for this, I love you, my heavenly Daddy, in Jesus’ wonderful name I ask it, and for your goodness I praise you, Amen

Live fully,
Love openly,
And make a difference, today

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Great as always Chuck! I can’t begin to imagine how I would react to being face to face with such a powerful creature.

    What I learned from this column though is that everything I’ve learned about facing a bear before this was wrong. I had always heard that raising your arms and screaming at the animal as you approached it would scare it off. That never seemed like a bright idea and not that I plan on ever facing a critter like this but if I ever do, I know now what to do. Thanks for another great read Chuck and God bless.


  2. Don, the one thing that I have learned about nature in my 80 + wierd years is that there are absolutely no absolutes in nature. This means that about the time that you think you have it all figured out things seem to go a tad screwy. But, for me, that is part of the allure of nature, the remarkable unpredictability. As strange as it might sound, the most effective bear scarer is an umbrella! The bumbershoot opening in its face seems to be more than it can take, and it vacates the premises. It always, sometimes, might, possibly could, maybe, but might not work. Again, there are absolutely no absolutes in nature other than the absolute fact that nature is absolutely unpredictable. Now that my young friend is an absolute. Chaz

  3. Well, I can’t run, and raising my arms and talking softly may not work, as you have attested to, so I’ll take my chances with God and kneel down and pray for His protection, should I ever be in a similar situation, although, I never plan to be. It seems like you just have a way with nature, unka Chuck! What do they call that “a bear whisperer” or something like that!

  4. Linda my dear, you might have something there! Praying has always seemed to work for me. Usually it was my mama that was doing the praying and her prayers went something like this, “Dear Lord, please protect my idiot son because he obviously doesn’t have the good sense of a goofy, gray gopher, Amen!” For the most part her prayers seemed to have worked. Blessings on you and yours young lady, Unka Chuck

  5. Charles you are so brave:) I think I would have passed out if I had been charged by a bear. Possibly, this would work as well since it is viewed as a submissive move?? Lovely story and always great to hear more animal and nature tails. Keep ’em coming!

  6. Dear NH, Brave? Brave you say? Some folks would call it darned foolishness. In all honestly all it takes is an understanding of the particular animal one is studying at the time, but then, as the old saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt!” A good example would be the idiot Timothy Treadwell. He considered himself an expert on the big browns and got himself eaten. He wasn’t brave, just stupid, and the real tragedy was that he got his girlfriend eaten too. It is one thing taking a calculated risk, but when you endanger another person you have pushed the wrong button. Just saying is all. Thanks for the comment my friend, Chaz

    P.S. One thing not to forget, bears eat carrion, therefore playing dead, or fainting,with any bear could result in your serving as a meat dish in Ursa’s next meal. You have a nice day ya hear, C

  7. Charles, my favorite part of this article is when you write, “It is a fact that when we go before an all-powerful God in prayer we are in the presence of absolute power. At that time, and in that place, the infinite meets with the finite.” Beautifully said. Remembering that truth will help us have the faith we need to confront problems head-on. Thank you!

  8. O Kristin, isn’t it interesting that power corrupts man, but with God, in His infinite wisdom and perpetual goodness, He is powerful and yet at the same time so very good. He never abuses his power but allows man, you and I, to make our own choices. Lord God, please help us to bring honor to you in all things and in all ways. May He pour his love and mercy out on you in all that you do. Bless you, Chaz

  9. Another great read Chuck. We have had bears in the yard from time to time but I have always chosen to view them from the inside of the house. As far as fear is concerned, if one has faith in God we are never alone even in the most fearful of situations.

  10. Mike, You are more than wise to not press the issue with bears. They are such powerful creatures, powerful and highly intelligent. I have been up close and personal with bears many times. Having spent countless hours with bears. I have seen their power, looked into their eyes and saw something akin to wisdom. Unless someone think me a tad strange with my wisdom comment, any creature that is able to process information in a fraction of a moment, in the blink of an eye, and arrive at a decision almost in that same instant is nothing to be trifled with. It is so very sad that the tribe of man has forgotten how to coexist with nature. I think we would be the better for it if we were to regain this lost gift. Isn’t God wonderful in His power? Thanks for the insightful and thought provoking comment pal. Chaz

  11. I remember seeing a mother bear, with cubs, in Yellow Stone National Park. There were also people, with camera’s, trying to get closeup pictures! My thoughts were, in this case, the bear was smarter than the people! Especially with cubs involved.

  12. Don, you are sooo right! For some reason only known to them, folks get the idea that bears are benign creatures, almost in the image of Teddy, Smoky, or Poo. This stereotyping has done a terrible injustice to the family of bear. It makes me think of the mother that rubbed honey all over her little boys face so she could get pictures of a bear licking the honey from the toddler. Luckily a ranger happened on the scene. He prevented a disaster. Yeah, sometimes people can be pretty darned goofy. Thanks for the comment pal, Chaz

  13. A BEAR!?!?!!! I just try to stay out of the woods.

    Thanks for the reminder to speak softly so as not to increase the danger of a situation (especially where God already has control).

  14. Oh Gymrat, you really know how to hit the nail on the head! Please, don’t stay out of the woods. This is a place of healing, of drawing near to the genuine. Nature can be a place of quiet rest, of rejuvenation. Thanks so very much for the comment, Chaz

  15. THE OLD BEAR WAS DOING WHAT HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DO IN THE WOODS THAT DAY! :YOU WERE NOT PART OF THE PICTURE! The BEAR and Chuck do not share the same Background or Values, Is there a Lesson here for us as we DEAL with each other?

  16. EJ, it is interesting that you say that, and yes my friend, I am sure there is a lesson we can learn about interacting with others. I imagine we could learn to be less forceful, more open. I am sure the bear and all nature considers us very threatening, therefore, in my dealings with humanity I must ask myself, what can I do to draw others to the good in me? To help them to see Christ in me. Help me to bring Joy, peace, and love wherever I go. Thanks EJ, I appreciate the comment, Chaz

  17. OMG!! Another adventure! I think you
    are living your 9th life. The word GRATEFUL is surely in your vocabulary. God has such an amazing plan for each of our lives but in your case, it has to be incredible!!
    May God continue to bless you in all you do.

  18. Dear CSG, and not only incredible but fun too! I feel that most people just exist, they seem to drift along, go with the flow if you know what I mean. Floating in one place, never doing anything is so remindful of a septic tank mentality, which, if you get my meaning, stinks! Sometimes we have to swim against the current, live life, accept the extraordinary, the adventure. Please, embrace the peculiar. I would much rather be really alive for the moment, then mediocre for a lifetime. Sometimes we have to march out of step, be bold, begin again, go back to school, challenge yourself, reinvent yourself, today! Yeah, be bold! Blessings on you and yours, Chaz

  19. Dear Friend, I know I have explained to you how my grandfather used to take me, a city boy, into the woods to teach me to ” shut up and sit still! ”
    Only then would I see nature and God’s critters in their natural beauty. I saw chipmonks,raccoons,deer,rabbits, all types of animals but not bears, when I finally learned to be still! What should we have to fear with God on our side? Bears may be a “gray area”, I fear I might run into one that hasn’t read either that article or the Bible!!!

  20. You know Richard, I don’t think it is so much bears people fear as as it is fear itself. Sadly, we little humans seem to fear so much. We fear cats, rats and bats, and usually for little or no reason. We fear the night, for what might be hiding there. We fear people, spiders, snakes, and death… and things, even God himself. The bible tells us to “fear God, and give glory to Him,” but that fear can be translated as respect. Respect! Hmmm, perhaps that is what it is all about, this fear thing, not so much demoralizing fear as it is appreciation for what might be? Perhaps the object of our fear, whatever it might be, would be better appreciated in the light of respect rather than fear. Oh well, I think we fear too much. Perhaps we should fear less and love more! And by the way, your granddaddy was a wise dude to my way of thinking! Chaz

  21. Yes, Charles, a good lesson as always!In Russia the bear is a national symbol and if fear = respect, then the Russian Bear is to be feared!
    Bears are very formidable animals and usually best viewed from a distance! ( best=safest) Although in Russia we do teach some bears to ride unicycles in the circus! God Bless you my friend!!!..

  22. It’s a real comfort to know we don’t have to face the ‘bears’ of life alone, to know there’s a big God facing them with us.

  23. Dimitri, I knew a family here in Florida USA that had a son that was a few bricks shy of a full load, I mean, his elevator didn’t go all the way to the top floor, if you know what I mean. I drove into their driveway just in time to see him ride off the garage roof on his unicycle! Ouch! Now not only was the kid a little goofy, but his chance of siring any little idiots was drastically limited, if you know what I mean. If you tried to teach an American black bear how to ride a unicycle you could end up picking bicycle spokes out of certain orifices that were not intended for bicycle spokes. It isn’t that our bears can’t learn, it is just that they don’t like being told what to do. Russian bears on the other hand, after living under the communist regime for so long are accustomed to being told what to do. And that is your nature story for today, as well as my in depth commentary on politics. Chaz

  24. Wee Bee, Big, well I should say He is big. He fills the horizon of my mind! He says, “Fear not, for I am with you…” Pal, that is all the reassurance that I need. Thanks for the comment, Chaz

  25. Sorry my friend but you learned wrong!!! Russian bear only ride unicycle on ground, too much smart to ride off a garage like American boy! You not need government to tell you that is not good idea!!! May God always bless you mightly!!!

  26. Dimitri my friend, you win. Yes, I agree, the Russian bear is very smart. The boy, after landing so hard on that unicycle seat did us a favor because he was rendered unable to pass on the idiot gene. Chaz


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