Montana Outdoors

May 6, 2007

Bear tree

Yesterday I paid a visit to a place I’ve know about for many years and visit every summer. It’s at a prominent location right beside an old trail in the high country where it passes through a thick stand of firs and cedars. It’s a “bear tree”.

Bear tree

It doesn’t look like much unless you know just what you’re looking for. For the resident male Black Bear in the area, it’s his signpost, advertising his residency and displaying his size. On this tree, about 7 feet from the ground are vertical scratches made by his claws. They are a easier to see in the following close-up. Sap has covered the older marks, but there’s a couple of fresh ones, made this spring. On my tip-toes I could barely reach the top of the highest marks.

Bear tree scratches

I first noticed this particular tree a dozen years ago, and each year I have seen new scratches. I doubt that the bear who made the scratches I first saw is still around, but his successor has certainly taken over where he left off, and continues to mark his territory.

This is part of his range in the TeePee/Spring Creek roadless area in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana:

TeePee roadless area


  1. This is why I get so darn excited about your posts! (besides the exellent humor writing) I love walking away knowing that one of these day’s the information you pass on is going to do me some good when I stumble upon something similar.

    When hubby and I went to Glacial National Park we wandered upon these mountains. Great shot! You caught that mountain at the perfect moment – I love the shadows caused by the clouds and teh contrast of the pine trees. Nice.


    Comment by aullori — May 6, 2007 @ 10:55 pm

  2. I’m glad you liked the cloud shadows. Sometimes you just get lucky, and when I saw those shadows I couldn’t resist using up a little digital film.

    The tree was one of my annual pilgrimages. Kind of like visiting an old friend. I always leave a little of my scent on it too. Just so he knows I was there.


    Comment by montucky — May 6, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

  3. remarkable!


    Comment by skouba — May 7, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  4. Very often it’s the little things that lead to a deep appreciation for the wild country and those who call it their home. There are many things written out there that make interesting reading.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2007 @ 8:50 am

  5. I think that’s a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. (I heard somewhere that leaving your scent behind will cause the bear to return in the next three days – dunno if it was just a rumor or not.) It’s amazing the tree has survived!


    Comment by aullori — May 7, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  6. I can’t think of a cause and effect reason for that, but I think it’s true that a bear will cover his range every 3 to 5 days and that might account for it.

    I had a friend many years ago who was an avid bear hunter. He was an archer, and used bait to lure the bear into a chosen location. He said that once he set out bait in a known bear’s territory, the bear would always find the bait within 3 days.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2007 @ 9:44 am

  7. I bet you can “bearly” wait for this time of the year up there. It is gorgeous.

    I just posted on my erroll le vant blog here on WordPress.
    I dont know if a link will work but I will try it.


    Comment by errolllevant — May 7, 2007 @ 7:12 pm

  8. The link works fine. I’m sure glad to see you over here! Selfishly, it make it easier for me to track you down! Welcome to WordPress!

    Yes, it has seemed a long wait, and I still can’t get into the real high country yet, but it’s getting closer now.


    Comment by montucky — May 7, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

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