There’s something that’s been bothering me lately and I really feel I need to get it off my chest: I’ve lived in South Carolina for over 10 years now — all in the upstate — and I have never, ever, seen a bear.
Now, to many of you, this would be a good thing, right? After all, although I don’t believe there’s been a bear fatality in S.C., (or if there has, it certainly hasn’t been any time in recent memory) but they’re still wild animals with lots of teeth and claws and can totally kill you. They probably should be avoided at all costs.
Except, I really, really want to see one.
It’s become sort of a running joke at the newspaper because whenever a bear sighting gets reported — and it happens all the time — I drop whatever it is I’m doing, grab my camera and sprint for the door.
We’ve had calls in from all over the County: Six Mile, Dacusville, Saluda Dam Road, Pickens — you name it.
We even had one lady call in about a bear on The Doodle Trail for Pete’s sake but, of course, by the time I managed to pedal myself down to the mentioned mile marker, he was long gone.
Years ago, this very newspaper ran a photo on the front page of a black bear up a tree in downtown Easley! Right in Old Market Square — mere feet from where our office is located now. Man, I would have loved to have been there for that.
I was there when that bear was spotted in the old Bi-Lo parking lot on 123, but again, he skedaddled before I ever laid eyes on him.
Almost all my friends have seen one out in the wild, usually while out driving and one runs across the road. Others have caught glimpses on their trail cams or security systems. Most have seen them on multiple occasions.
But me? Nope. Neither hide nor hair. I’m starting to take it personally …
The weird part is I used to go camping all the time.
Before we had kids, my husband and I spent nearly every weekend out hiking around in the woods — and when I say “camping” I don’t mean KOA style. We would park our car and just head out into the mountains. We had some bats swoop at us one time and saw the occasional snake or deer, but that was the extent of our “wildlife encounters.”
The truth is, when I say I’ve never seen a bear — I mean never. Sure, I’ve seen them in photos and on television, but I have never seen one with my own eyes, The Greenville Zoo doesn’t have them and when we visited the Zoo in Columbia, they weren’t on display that day. (I forget why.)
It’s odd to think that I’ve seen tigers, lions, elephants, hippos and rhinos — but never a species that’s actually native to where I live. They’re not even endangered or anything — people see them all the time.
Just not me.
Maybe it’s for my own good. In all honesty, I have no idea how I would react if I ever did come across one and while I’m no wildlife expert, I am pretty sure that jumping around and letting out squeals of excitement is not the recommended response.
In the meantime, I’ll bide my time and try to remain patient. But keep those bear-sighting calls coming guys — because I’m bound to get lucky at some point, right?
Kasie Strickland is the managing editor for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.