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Grizzlie Beared, Another Montana Story

This story explains a frontier law enforcement technique, grizzly bearing, for ridding a Yellowstone campsite of some troublesome motorcyclists, using natural pest protectorant to encourage immediate departure. It worked. The bikers left the country, but the camp had be shut down for two weeks until warring grizzlies settled down.
On my way home from the Swearing In I thought of this incident and thought your readers may get a chuckle out of it. So I decided to put it on paper. I am telling this story only because Sgt. Preston (some names are changed to protect the not so innocent) is retired, and I believe the statute of limitations have run out, ADAIR COUNTY AUTHOR BILL TROUTWINE writes as a prologue to this story, rated Fanciful - somewhere north of fact and south of fiction - to make it a mighty good story to curl up with a an iPad and read on bleak winter day.

By Bill Troutwine

It was early summer of 1994 and I was working as a resident Deputy in Big Sky. Sgt. Preston, and I both worked the Gallatin Canyon, a stretch of land that reached from West Yellowstone to Gallatin Gateway. Sgt Preston lived in West Yellowstone and I lived near Gallatin Gateway. It is approximately 100 miles between the two towns. My Sergeant worked the day shifts, and I worked the night shifts. Our shifts overlapped by two hours. When I started my shift I would head to the Cinnamon Lodge to meet with Sgt Preston. The Cinnamon Lodge was approximately half way between our residents, so it was a natural meeting point for us. We would meet there and drink coffee and pass on information to each other.

Sgt. Preston lived in West Yellowstone

It was early summer of 1994 and I was working as a resident Deputy in Big Sky. Sgt. Preston, and I both worked the Gallatin Canyon, a stretch of land that reached from West Yellowstone to Gallatin Gateway. Sgt Preston lived in West Yellowstone and I lived near Gallatin Gateway. It is approximately 100 miles between the two towns. My Sergeant worked the day shifts, and I worked the night shifts. Our shifts overlapped by two hours. When I started my shift I would head to the Cinnamon Lodge to meet with Sgt Preston. The Cinnamon Lodge was approximately half way between our residents, so it was a natural meeting point for us. We would meet there and drink coffee and pass on information to each other.

Fifty members of a motorcycle gang had been troubling area

Sgt Preston had been telling me for a couple of weeks, that there were about fifty members of a motorcycle gang camped at Hebgen Lake campground, and they were causing trouble. Mainly they had taken over the campground and was frightening other campers and actually running them out of the campground. Sgt Preston had previously told me that sooner or later we were going to have to take some kind of action against them.

Now this was a pretty tough biker gang and they had somewhat of a reputation around the state. I told the Sergeant we were probably no match for them, but I was with him whenever he was ready to confront them. He said "give me a few more days I have an idea I may try". I asked what he was thinking? He said" It's better you don't know right now".

Sergeant Preston was a resourceful man

My Sergeant was a very resourceful man, and he was always coming up with some odd but effective ideas. He was very effective as a peace officer, but he used some strange methods and sometime possibly not so legal ones, but he always got results.

Some time passed, and he had not mentioned the biker gang for several days. I started wondering what had happened, and I decided to ask Sgt Preston what was up with the bikers? He said "Oh, they all pulled out and left a few days ago".

Writer was curious about the exodus

Naturally my question was, what happened, why did they leave? He said, "it was the bears. They were spooked by all the grizzlies". He then shut up and went back to drinking his coffee, and started talking about something else. Naturally, at this point, my curiosity was killing me. I said "you can't quit now, you have to tell me, what happened"? He said "Oh not much, I just grizzly beared them". I said "what in the world does grizzly bearing them mean"? He said "if I tell you, you can't tell anyone".

I gave my word to keep his secret, because at this point my curiosity was killing me. He started to explain. Apparently he went to the local slaughterhouse and got two 5 gallon buckets full of blood, and a tub full of guts. He drove an old forest service trail that went in behind the camp ground, and out into the woods behind where the bikers were camped. He dumped all his contents out and left.

Bears love a free meal

Now, bears love a free meal, and they have a sense of smell that is second to none. I guess when the word spread among the bears, about the great odors coming from Hebgen Lake campground, every bear in Yellowstone Park packed their bag and headed that direction. When all the bears arrived, there just wasn't enough food to go around, so the bears started fighting, and believe me, there is no more frightening sound on earth than the sounds coming from a couple of very mad, fighting grizzlies.

The smaller bears know they can't win a fight with the bigger bears so the smaller bears started wandering around in the campground hoping to find a free meal. In some cases the bears were actually sticking their heads into tents. This proved to be a little unnerving for our bikers, and they hastily packed some things and promptly left the area in the middle of the night.

Some tents and coolers were left in their hasty departure, and the bears quickly destroyed all that. Sgt Preston went by the campground the next morning and he said bears were everywhere. He said they were still fighting and looting tents. He placed campground closed signs at the two entrances to the campground and left.

Campground had to be closed for two weeks

The campground had to remain closed for about two weeks until all the bears finally settled down and most returned back to the park. As far as I know no one ever knew why we had such a swarm of bears converge on the campground all at once. Some were saying the bikers were leaving food and scraps laying around and that is why all the bears congregated there, and more signs were put up warning people to keep a clean camp in order to avoid problems with bears.

*As far as the bikers go it was rumored that they were last seen crossing the Texas border headed for Mexico. Even to this day on occasion someone will report seeing a bear wondering around Yellowstone Park wearing a biker jacket, and smoking a joint, but other than that everything pretty quickly returned to normal.

Now you know the rest of the story!

*Note. For the most part this is a true story except maybe the last paragraph. - WT


This story was posted on 2015-01-10 07:09:50
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