BearsInTheWoodsAlone with night settling in, five miles into the wilderness—and treed by a mama bear and her twins. Another fine mess of fish I’d kettled for myself while in Ontario hunting with an old Army buddy, Darrell Turner, who was ensconced in a fir about a mile away on the opposite wall of a little valley.

The bears were in the valley between. First I noticed them was when Mama, a huge cinnamon, reared up on her hind legs to scratch at tree bark and sniff around like a big dog on a scent. No way was I going to shoot her when two young cubs appeared to wrestle and play like a couple of rowdy children. Kill a Mama? Huh-uh.

So I spied on them, having a great time, while the sun reddened out and finally dropped below the horizon. Purple dusk seeped into the valley and crept up the tree in which I was perched. Right below my stand, the three bears—but no Goldilocks—munched on bait like fat ladies at an all-you-can-eat Golden Corral buffet. Occasionally, Mama sat up and shook my tree—either inviting me to chow, or daring me to come down.

I had to come down and get out of the woods sooner or later. The night grew darker. Presently, I still heard the bears but couldn’t see them. One thing you have to understand: there is probably nothing more dangerous on earth than a Mama bear protecting her offspring.

I recalled a quote from an old space movie that goes something like, “If you scream in space, can anyone hear you?” Same goes for the Canadian wilderness.

I waited. The moon came up, just a sliver. Stars shone. Mama and babies moved back into the buckbrush. I still heard and smelled them. I figured they could smell me too.

Making my move, I slithered down the tree and headed out on the trail. Mama whuffed, babies woofed. It was so dark down in the trees I might have stepped on their toes before I saw them.

I began to sing and whistle loudly. I always liked Amazing Grace. I wanted Mama to know that anything this loud was probably not good to eat, was likely unstable, and perhaps even dangerous. So there I went through the night, depending on sheer willpower not to bolt and run, thereby inviting a chase.

Mama stood up on her hind legs—I could tell by the sound—and issued a mewling half-howl that apparently meant something like “good riddance.”

“Same to you, Mama,” I muttered, “and to all a good night.”

“You cannot BE a writer unless you first develop the concept of what is necessary to BECOME a writer.” From Magic Steps to Writing Success, by Charles W. Sasser. Author of some 60 books and more than 3,000 magazine articles, Charles W. Sasser explains the five magic steps toward becoming a successful writer. Available at and in paperback, Kindle and Nook.