If you’re not used to western terminology the term “park” might confuse you. The Rocky Mountains have natural open areas surrounded by forests. These areas are found in all sizes and are separated by evergreen forests. When looking from a distance they appear to be irregular fields of grass land. These areas are called “parks”. It is very common to see elk, bear, and deer feeding in these secluded parks from a long distance.
When we fished at Browns Lake during the summer there were several of these natural parks on the side of the mountain above the lake. We would frequently see bear feeding in these parks. They were a long ways away and didn’t present any problems for activities at the lake. It was pretty unique watching them feed on the vegetation in the parks and occasionally dig out an animal burrow.
When the fall bear hunting season opened Dad took me camping and bear hunting with him on the mountain. This was my first experience bear hunting with Dad. We camped overnight at the lake. Dad fixed a big breakfast with home fries, bacon, and eggs using the campfire and coleman lantern for light. He always said, “I cooked your eggs until they bounced”. My eggs had to have hard yolks when cooked and he often joked about it. We cleaned up camp and headed for the mountain parks just as daylight was breaking. It was cool, but not cold. Dad had on a wool hunting shirt and my favorite jacket with zippered pockets was keeping me warm.
We walked slow, checked wind direction, and stopped often to look and listen. It was a real adventure to be on my first bear hunt. Late in the morning we stopped in a nice sunny area to look for bear. Dad asked me, “What is that spot on your jacket?” During breakfast I had slipped several pieces of bacon into my jacket pocket. As the temperatures warmed up during the day the bacon created a six inch diameter grease spot around the pocket. Dad just shook his head when he found out it was bacon grease. When he found out the bacon was for bear bait he cracked up. He laughed until he couldn’t laugh any more. My bacon was left dangling on a small evergreen tree.
The grease never came out of my favorite jacket……..and some bear probably enjoyed my bacon.