Bear Under the Deck

A bumping outside the window woke me this morning around 4:00. Edging over to the open window, I listened to the bump and then heard the snort.


Our garbage cans are kept under the deck. Only one had trash — one bag — but the full-grown black bear was in the process of knocking them all over to be sure there wasn’t anything more than what he was able to drag out and spread all over the ground.

I shined my small flashlight out the window and caught the shadowy outline of our woodland visitor. Padding across the carpeted floor, I gently shook a sleeping Mr. Mitchell.

“Hmm?” he responded, groggily. Guys sleep through anything.

“There’s a bear in the trash,” I whispered. I wasn’t sure what he could do about it but it seemed only reasonable that I should share this pre-dawn moment by disrupting his sleep.

He stumbled out of bed and disappeared into his man cave, coming back with a handheld spotlight. Did I hear him say it was a million watts? Whatever it was, it was bright.

Positioning himself at the widow, he pointed the spotlight in the direction of the bumping and snorting. There it was … a full-grown black bear pawing through our discarded water bottles, empty cans, used paper towels, and all the other assorted odds and ends found in the family trash.

With iPhone in hand, I snapped some photos but the combination of darkness, the screen on the window, and distance made it difficult to get a clear picture. The bear ate. I took pics. The bear pawed through the pile. More pics. More pawing and eating.

At one point the bear had a green plastic band on its nose. At another, it pulled out a paper plate and carried it a short distance away before deciding there was nothing there. Back to the pile. We’re not sure what it was eating because there wasn’t any food in there except the bones and skin from a baked chicken. Other than that, not much. To a bear, I suppose, that could be a gourmet diet.

I kept expecting it to amble off at any time but it didn’t. Finally Mr. Mitchell felt it really needed to be run off and so he went out on the deck and clapped his hands to scare it back into the woods.

We have lived with black bears since moving to this location 20 years ago but it wasn’t until last summer that we had one raid the garbage, stringing it out across the yard down to the woods, and a bird feeder was knocked down and roughed up in early spring for the seed.

Living west of Staunton, there is more wildlife so it is to be expected but keeps us on our toes to not become a target of the wild beasts. This is where the wild things are.

Needless to say, neither Mr. Mitchell nor I got back to sleep after the 4am wake-up so tonight we’re dragging. Wonder if Mr. Bear will return to the scene of the crime? If he does, he won’t find anything.

It’s spring in the Shenandoah Valley….

Picking through the smorgasbord.


He left a mess.


Chased away from the deck, the bear ambled into the darkness of the back yard and into the woods.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
May 16, 2017

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