View Full Version : Ringing the Dinner Bell for cats, fish, bears...

September 1, 2006, 05:40 PM
Many moons ago I did a lot of sport diving and some spear fishing...and I can remember one summer in Belize...where a bunch of us started talking about the dinner bell theory...and it made a lot of sense. Each day we'd go out on the reef and spear Groupers... and each day we'd encounter Grey Reef Sharks...and it soon became apparant...they loved to see our arrival. It was like tourists 'feeding the bears in the Smoky Mtns.' Spearing groupers...wasn't a hard task ie. we'd swim down gullies - like natural roads - cut through the reef by conchs...and into the crevices...there always seemed to be an ample supply of nice succulent Groupers - Grouper 'Hotels'.

A shark has a brain about like a rat's brain - smart but not as smart as a 'Bear'. Sharks were never a big problem - mostly just a little nusance at times and frankly it always seemed that the most pesky Grey Reef shark...was a 'young one' ie. I remember a 3-4 footer that would not 'leave' and became too excited...and you'd hate to give up a bag of fish...because in a sense...that only reenforced the shark's aggresive behavior...

Enter the Bear. With Grey Reef Sharks...one can expect one to have a territory ranging from a few miles to maybe less than a mile of reef...and it cruises that territory. I'm not as certain about a Brown Bear's territory - but for the sake of argument - let's just say there is a certain bear population density and that when the ol' Bear hears a gunshot...the bear takes it to be a ringing dinner bell ie. the Bear instinctively knows that there's a good chance that a big dinner has just been served ! The old bears are smart and will wait till the hunters have gone, and then make their move to pick up the remains. The young ones will likely be the more aggressive(or the hungrier more desparate one of all sizes if they are under stress...) Thus a hunter like a diver spearfishing in a sharky place - is more vulnerable to a bad encounter after the dinner bell has been rung...

So as the hunter lays down his rifle...and begins to clean/dress the deer/elk/moose...he is actually more vulnerable to a bad bear encounter than when carrying the rifle...and if he left the game to come back to it later...he/she is all the more vulnerable. So it would seem to make sense to always of course KNOW the area where you are hunting, clean/dress the game asap,
and to wear a little 454 revolver or something simular...for when you have to lay down or strap-on the rifle...

Odds are very good that a bear doesn't want to mess with you ie. I know of stories where a bear has sat across from a hunter and actually waited until the hunter left... But it makes sense to be sensative to the dinner bell situation ,especially in a year where Bears are under a lot of stresss ie. not enough berries and not enough salmon to eat... or in areas where there is a lot of hunting and the Bears have learned that dinner is being served.

Cats? Well, just leave a little cat food out for those strays you see...and pretty soon you'll have a daily wary visitor... Bears are even smarter ! :D

Maybe the best hunting companion is a good dog ie. they can tell you when something is approaching. :cool:

I can't imagine Africa ie. 'lions and hyienas and the dinner bell - makes the ol' 375 H&H look that much better than the .308...':rolleyes:

September 1, 2006, 06:56 PM
I know it works for cats. When I pull my boat down the road, back to my house after fishing, every cat in the neighborhood heads for my backyard. It can be rather comical, I can see them coming down the road in my rear view mirror.

I used to do some spearfishing too. I fished around offshore towers and wrecks off the NC and VA coast. The trick here was to get out of the water with your fish, before the sharks showed up, because they were definitely coming. I lost a pretty nice cobia like that, one time. Blood in the water definitely rings the dinner bell for sharks and I don't want to be the main course. I lost a couple of speckled trout off a stringer one evening while wade fishing to a 4 footer in waist deep water. That certainly woke me up. For some reason, the beer was especially good, later that night. :D

I read that the "dinner bell" thing is a particular problem on Kodiak Island.

September 1, 2006, 08:53 PM
As I understand things, that's a real common phenomenon with bears up in AK and other northern parts - get your meat, trophy, and get out quick, before they show up, I would think. And have someone stand guard while butchering if you're buddy hunting.

September 1, 2006, 10:08 PM
as a note on dogs i've read that they will get the bears attention ect and get scared and run back to the alpha male in the pack....you. so essentially the dog goes fishing for bears and brings them right to you. How true this is, i am unsure. I dont have direct expereince either, just relaying what i've heard a few times.

September 2, 2006, 12:22 AM
I had an ol'dobie who was absolutely great...and one thing about a lot of dobes...is their ability to 'detect'. Analogy: my dobe would whine a leetle bit and nuzzle me if he heard a car door or simular little sound at the end of the driveway...but a sheperd might be more inclined to just sit and 'wait for it'.
On the other hand, a sheperd is more likely to fight to the death than a dobe who might just decide that if things are too firece - just to back off... (a gross generalization)

I had one dobe that was the smartest and most loyal dog one could imagine(a beta - a big boned red dobe) and I had a little blue alpha female who couldn't retrieve at all and who would take off running away...at times when I least expected it. I note some people like hybrid wolves...and they might be dandy if mixed just right...but one thing to remember...is a wolf is 'less aggressive' than a dog, but a dog is 'less predatory' than a wolf. Dogs barks and bs around, but a wolf is more laid back and cool about things... So if you mix'em up a little bit the wrong way - you can end up with hybrid that's both aggressive and predatory - and I'll just say 'not for me.' :eek:

What's interesting is 'environment' and 'adaptation'. I've scuba dived in the keys where it was like an aquarium...but in Belize I'd see the same species and they seemed more 'aggressive'. I imagine bears are the same ie. they adapt to different environments... In Russia, there's lots of stray dogs and it's funny ie. they all seem to have the same size and 'look' - but I don't see any laying dead in the street hit by cars... One day I was walking down a street in Kishinev Moldova and came to a crosswalk and dang it if the stray dog in front of me didn't stop and look both ways before crossing the street!
Adaptability ! The dogs there also tend to be very sneaky and quiet in regard to getting food from trash cans... :cool:

In fact, it's neat when you think about it - but ask 'How long have these dogs been around' and the answer is mind blowing. These stray city dogs - or village dogs - that are all around the globe in Europe, Asia and Africa - have maybe been there longer than the people ! They're generally all about the same size like hairy little wolfish little coyotes that have adapted to human cities and villages. Bears are highly adaptive too - but not nearly so successful or capable as dogs. :D

I imagine bears can vary in aggression from area to area - and turn it on and off under various environmental circumstances. The seduction is that sometimes a Grizzly Bear can look so friendly and innocent that one could almost reach out and pet it... but in a sense it is always an illusion. :)

Interestingly the now extinct short-faced bear was twice as big as a Grizzly and had a leaner build. He was very fast and had a bulldog-like face. He could slam into a mammoth or simular megafauna and take it on ! He was also almost entirely carniverous - unlike Grizzlies/Browns who are more omniverous - and that one factor probably caused his extinction. He couldn't adapt... When modern bears are under stress - a bad berry season or a poor salmon run - it puts enormous pressure on them to adapt. Part of that adaptation might be becoming 'more carniverous or predatory' or in the reverse scenario 'less carniverous or predatory'. :cool:

September 2, 2006, 01:56 AM
The situation you are describing is a proven association between certain stimuli and a known response. Kinda like pavlovs' dog.

Every time I go out to cut wood in the fall with the chain saw deer show up to get the leaves and foliage (where I live deer overpopulation is a big issue and they are very competitive for food). Anyway, if hunting in bear country I would assume the same as you have mentioned with gunshot then bear showing up shortly there after for dinner. I would definately carry a large bore backup pistol or leave the rifle in close proximity when field dressing the animal.

As far as a dog is concerned, in many states it is illegal to hunt with dogs for deer and other "bid game" animals so I would read the regs first and I would also want to have a very large dog (more aggresive breeds like rot, mastiff, wolf hound the better) who would at least keep the bear occupied while I could get off a shot at the bear, instead of running away and leaving just an angry bear and me to duke it out.

September 6, 2006, 08:30 PM
Where you at, UF?

September 6, 2006, 09:20 PM
UniversalFrost.I went deer hunting on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Their main food source is tree moss.The Canadian government runs the hunts and the accommodations are fantastic.Deer are pretty tame.I had an eight point walk down a logging road,get about twenty yards from me,walk around me,and get back on the logging road.Never saw a man before. I never shot a deer while I was there,but it is a cool place.Plenty of basket rack eight pointers.Anyhow,one of the guides cut down a couple of the evergreens.I asked him what his purpose was and he said the deer would hear it and come for the moss.

September 10, 2006, 07:28 PM
I don't think it's just the gunshot. Bow hunters, having shot elk, etc. have ended up with brown bear on their kills. Guy that started UDAP ended up clawed and chewed that way.

Bear can hear, and smell the death of their prey, or food sources, and, probably associate humans with dinner during hunting season.


September 11, 2006, 10:01 PM
I used to pretend to have 'food' and stand at the stern of the boat and watch flocks of pelicans scramble all over the place following the boat back to the marina... I would pretend to throw something - and pelicans would swoop in and follow for miles... Amazing.. We probably underestimate our own dinner bells - but many advertisors<sp> manage to find them...and we do things less rational than pelicans ie. there's a market for 5 foot long Conan swords on QVC.

One aspect of 'scent control' that sorta bothers me - is that if I'm out in bear country I don't want to smell like an elk or a deer. :D Think about it - one has masked the human scent, and just killed a deer...and as you carry the deer meat back out of the woods...you might want to smell like something else. For example, I wouldn't want to deoderize my body and dip myself in fish chum - so as to be a better spearfisherman when snorkling... so why would I want to smell like a doe when carrying bloody deer meat in grizzly country. :D

September 12, 2006, 01:49 PM
i don't think you have to worry about dogs looking to you for protection, there are plenty of stories of dogs fighting for their owners. my family's got a wuss who will curl up with you during a storm but any time a stranger comes around he's front and center. the question is, though, do you care about your buddy too much to let him get mauled? better or worse i don't think i could leave a dog behind, i'd just try to open it up enough to empty my guns.

i think if you have the ability, another person around is your best bet, if you're genuinely worried about getting ambushed while you're dressing. the key though is situational awareness, just like any time you're carrying a gun. you have to have your antenna up and be ready to change posture in a heartbeat.