We were about twelve miles in the woods, two from where we parked the truck, trying to find our way to a particular lake using old logging roads and snowmobile trails. The three dogs were with us, Chara, the oldest German wirehaired pointer not far ahead, Colby, our youngster GWP maybe a hundred yards ahead, and Bella, our crazy Vizsla somewhere between the two. The dogs knew we weren’t hunting but hiking, so mostly they stayed on the trail and only made short forays into the trees.
After walking almost an hour over a ridge on hot sunny logging roads, we had dropped down into a valley, following a narrow trail through thick hardwoods with a lot of dense understory. Near a stream, Chara trotted off to the left and stopped twenty feet from the path, so I stopped too, thinking grouse.
Bella noticed Chara stopped, and her usual routine is to bolt toward Chara but then to circle around to pin the bird between the two of them. But instead she stopped almost beside Chara, with the two of them staring into the woods, not in what I would call a bird dog’s point, but with heads held high as if trying to see.
And then about thirty feet beyond the dogs the bushes shook and something large moved. My first thought was “deer”, because that is what it would have been back home. But I didn’t see a deer and the critter only moved a few feet, what I did catch a glimpse of was something dark, and then I lost sight of it among the leaves. Whatever it was, it had stopped only fifty feet from our dogs.
Both Sally and I could hear something like an infant moaning not far away. The two dogs never moved. Colby came trotting back and I stopped her with a “whoa”.
Calling the dogs to come with us, we hurried on our way.
My best guess is a bear with a young one.