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Exciting Evening…


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We live in the mountains of Western North Carolina and have had somewhat of an eventful week. I’ve lived here for all but about 6 months of my life, right on the edge of the woods. The area is changing of course, not long before my time you would have seen cleared fields for many of the mountains and hills and not as much wildlife, but with the woods growing and replacing what used to be pasture and farms, (and less hunting), the wildlife has flourished…. I’ve always remembered us having rabbits and squirrels. The last few years though we’ve seen the occasional bobcat, heard the coyotes move in. The wild turkeys have become more and more prevelant as well. In fact this spring is the first year that I recall being almost guaranteed to see a wild turkey within shouting distance of the house about once a week.

Well, a couple days ago the cove was stirred up over a bear sighting (I think that was Wednesday…) it looked to be good size (650 lbs by one estimate.) Since their out of season someone shot to scare it off from what I heard. It ran into the woods, but was still in the neighborhood about an hour later when my wife drove in – she saw it down the road.

Well, we’ve had the occasional bear sighting, the first I recall was when I was about 10, but every 7 years or so one would wander through. The last few years it’s been more persistent, with at least one or two sightings a year within a mile or so from the house the last 3 years. Well, now we’ve got two sightings in three days. Apparently while I was online looking at trouble ticket management software we had one wandering through our yard. The neighbors tried to call but our phone gave static. After looking at stuff on the computer I stepped outside for a bit of fresh air and got the call on the cellphone that I’d missed seeing the bear by about 15 minutes.

I’m a bit disappointed I missed seeing it, I was not 3 feet from the window looking out in the front with my back to it at the computer…. I thought I heard a couple voices at one point down by the road it sounded like they were talking about not seeing the bear in a couple days, then as I finished up at the computer I noticed a car had stopped down at the road and was going slow out the cove.

This time of year, there’s not a lot of food around for the bears so their more likely to roam. (By the way, we have Black Bears around here – NOT grizzly….) In all of this I don’t know of anyone that’s got a picture of one. Last year we were out to dinner and my mother-in-law was staying with our son. After dinner she had left a message on the cellphone and sounded quite shook up. A bear had come around an outbuilding we have about 150 feet form the house and wandered through the compost heap and then down through my parents yard….

If I see it (and have my wits and camera about me…. and it seems opportune…) I’ll get a picture. I heard the one this evening looked smaller than what was spotted Wednesday. I did actually get a good look at one about a year or two ago. I was about 3/4 mile from the house, rounded the curve and a good size black bear slipped across the road in front of the car, under a barbed wire fence and vanished into the woods. Just as graceful as you could wish. Amazing how something that size can have such grace and fluid/quick movement as I saw.

Anyway, one cove over from us, they were seeing wild deer last year. I’m suspecting it’s only a matter of time before we get a few sightings through here as well.

What really caught me by surprise was a few weeks back we were driving through Woodfin on our way to Asheville and I saw a good size Wild Boar standing 30 feet or less from the road. It was jet black except for a grey streak along the top of it’s head and back and had bright white tusks. I thought it was a statue at first, then saw it looking one way then the other at the road.

So, anyway…. no point really, other than the woods are teeming with wildlife around here. I’ve put it here on the Genealogy site because it always makes me wonder just how much wildlife this Reems Creek valley must have had when my ancestors first arrived. I image most of it was forest, down to the creek and there were dear and elk (these were called the elk mountains…) There were even Buffalo in the area. (The last Buffalo east of the Mississippi was shot up here at Bull Gap (hence the name) in the late 1700’s (if I recall correctly – it could have been early 1800’s).) Of course, the Chestnut tree would have been “king” of the forest then. It’s barely existing in the forest today except in sprouts since the chestnut blight. Those trees provided an enormous amount of food for everything from small game to larger animals (or larger animals feasting on the small game I guess….)

These days there are subdivisions and developments all through the valley it’s hard to picutre it as it was. Of course, in the early 1900s it was very different than it is today as well, quite a bit more of the land was cleared and pastureland or tilled and planted. There’s a picture in the Dry Ridge museum that shows a picture around 1900 of Weaverville and then another one about 2000 and it’s striking how much more forestland you see in the year 2000 picture. Well, I’m just rambling at this point. Have a good evening.