Bear Feet


In my last post, I jested, in closing, that I was going to go out and take down any bears that might be rummaging through our compost bin. I also reported that I wouldn’t be able to eat any non-locally-grown bears, if it were to turn out that they had actually been transported, under the auspices of a wildlife witness protection program, into Minnesota from a different state.

As that post indicated, I have quite a repertoire of Dead Animal Humor, especially because one of my cousins waaaayyy up North here actually keeps his family’s bellies full of meat throughout the year thanks to hunting and, more importantly, road kill.

Oh, yes, he does.

To aid him in his road-kill quest, he’s got some contacts with state troopers; also, he lives in a remote part of the state where all 87 residents know each other’s bank balances and underwear rotations, not to mention how they stock their freezers. With such connections, my cousin’s meat needs are easily fulfilled. If a moose gets hit on Highway 1, the solution to such a public, bloody mess is, “Call Kurt.” Or if a deer gets bonked, someone will inevitably stop by his family’s cabin, knock, and holler out, “Deer kill down by Misty’s place!”

After the call or the knock, Kurt collects his tools and any unsuspecting greenhorns he can wrassle into a crew, and he heads out, day or night, to begin the slaughter. And slaughtering a moose? A little bit bigger project than scrapbooking Junior’s trip to the State Wrestling Championships. Indeed, butchering a moose is intense, heavy labor.

But, holy buckets of Bullwinkle, you can eat the thing for ten months, so it’s worth the effort.

Right? Right? Right?

At any rate, you can see why road kill and compost bin humor trip so lightly out of my brain. Thanks to My People, I make up little vignettes like in my last post.

However. The day after I posted about out-of-state bears getting transported, a different cousin of mine (her eccentricity, by the way, differs from Road Kill Cousin’s; her thing is that she’s given all of her passle of kids “D” names. I’m glad she stopped spawning just after the birth of Baby Darby and before she had to resort to the moniker Baby Damnation) emailed these photos of a bear that was struck by a truck near Lincoln, Montana.

Dead bear. Funny, right?

Not so much.

In truth, it makes me sad. Look at that photo of the four paws at rest, in particular. There’s something strangely human there. If, you know, that human weighed 800 pounds and was horrifyingly hirsute.

Certainly, being a good Montanan myself, I know James Gandolfini here is pretty much just stew meat topped off by some fly-fishing resort’s new bearskin rug; despite that, I find myself wanting to knit the poor bugger some booties.

Note to self: learn to knit.



By Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."


  1. Those claws!

    But yes, there is something innately poignant about such a mighty beast being killed and gawped at.

    Poor bear.


  2. i think we must be long lost cousins…i hit a deer once and told mr lime to go gather it up (i had no space and no way to get it into me car) we were both sad it had disappeared by the time he got back.

    but yes, the bears make me sad… i do have a fondness for them when they are living, not so much as dinner.

  3. It never occurred to me that road kill meat might be edible – but then all I generally see is squished skunk or raccoon. As long as it’s fresh it’s not a bad way to get food.

  4. Ooo dear. I don’t think I could slaughter a mouse let alone a moose.

    As for the bear, although he’s not much of a teddy, it still makes me feel distinctly uncomforable.

  5. they should give it a proper burial cause it too, just as we do, lived a long and full life and deserves to be put to rest with nature… poor guy 🙁

  6. Road kill is the best! After all you don’t have to do the killing and it’s on the road so all you need is to round up your neighbors for the butchering and then pass out the pieces and you don’t even have to carry it on your back for miles! If you’re in the bar when your name & number comes up on the road-kill list you just heard everyone out there with you and there you go. And who wants a whole moose to themselves anyway? They don’t make freezers that big. I wonder if I live in the same state as your road-kill eating cousin, he sounds awfully familiar.)

  7. As always, a good story and an interesting post.

    I recently heard an interview with a Canadian woman who is an AIDs worker in Africa, and I was astounded and lifted by her sense of humor. Okay, so a road-killed moose perhaps isn’t as great a tragedy as a twelve-year-old AIDs victim, but there are those tragedies that aren’t easily prevented, and laughter is one form of human sustenance.

    Back to my love of lyrics: Joni Mitchell, The Same Situation: “You know laughin’ and cryin’ they’re the same release.”

    And still I can’t in any way laugh at the poor bear. What a magnificent animal.

    By the way, I think you’ve got some cousins in my neighborhood…

    I’ve been working more and more on the development of my “professional” photography business, trying to learn the technical stuff I should know, developing a line of postcards and greeting cards, and trying to get organized. As a result, blogging has been on the back burner.

    I think of you, now and then sneak a quick look at your blog and what’s happening in your life, but for the most part I haven’t been doing a lot of reading or commenting. It’s probably time for me to take a break and come back when I can spend reasonable time visiting as well as writing.

    Thank you for sharing glimpses of your life with me, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope to “see you” soon!

    Wiz’d Wiz’d

  8. dead bears love booties too.

    man, that’s tough to look at.

    would it be poor taste to paint a dead bear’s nails?

  9. What a magnificent creature…so sad to see him tied to a truckbed and gawked at.

    When I really think about it, it’s better that the flesh be eaten instead of discarded like nothing…and going out and butchering a poor ol’ cow.

  10. Bears scare the hell out of me so I use them in any metaphor involving fear. Therefore, I did not feel very sad upon seeing this dead bear. That’s one less bear that can kill me. You know, should a bear decide to come to suburban Texas and kill somebody.

  11. I find having strange relatives oddly comforting. Makes me feel a bit closer to the normal part of the teeter-totter, so to speak.

    The rumor had it that the biology faculty at the small liberal arts college that collected my tuition had a ‘road kill club’ and that to be a member you had to eat yourself some road kill. All the professors were reportedly members. Perhaps there is some branch of your cousin’s family that took root in a small college in Portland?

    That aside, yes, that picture of the feet in particular is terribly sad.

  12. It’s very sad, I think. Have you ever seen a bear dance up a hill – running just for the joy of it? It’s an amazing sight. They can be the embodiment of joy.

  13. I think the size of the animal is the thing. I see squirrels and skunks on the road all the time and don’t think it’s really picture worthy, though sad all the same. But seeing a big bugger like that is kind of shocking.

    One really foggy night around here a horse got loose from its pen and was hit by a car. I’ll never forget seeing the poor thing’s (looooong) legs sticking stright up in the air as I drove by.

  14. I’m sad for the bear. Our tiny zoo has 4 rescue bears. They live a nice ‘enriched’ life and would be dead otherwise. Too many people, too many roads crisscrossing migratory lands= dead animals.

  15. Poor bear. Even when he’s rummaging through the trash, he’s doing what comes naturally. He never says “I want to annoy some human”.

    We’ve seen two bears during our hikes, albeit black bears who aren’t as strong and vicious as grizzlies.

    Happy Thanksgiving Joc!

  16. So fearsome in life and pitiable in dead.
    All things being equal, I’d rather not see them up close at all, I think.
    Stay at a polite distance please, bears.

  17. I lived in the Vermont woods and hunting season was terrible for me. I went out and posted every single tree with “No hunting” signs, but the hunters shot holes in them.

    Since I sometimes fed deer with salt licks right out of my hands, I often recognized the bleeding creatures being driven out of the woods laced to the hoods of pickup trucks.

    I simply don’t understand hunting an unarmed animal when every grocery store yields neatly wrapped packets of meat for the taking. And the antlers on the family room wall? That’s obscene.

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