A Tale: Woman Fends Off Attacking Bear With Zucchini

This morning newspapers across Montana greeted readers with this story:

“A woman in the Huson area warded off a charging black bear with a garden fresh zucchini early Thursday after the 200-pound bruin attacked her dog and swiped at the woman’s leg.” [continue reading]

The story probably amazed many readers, but for people in the know it’s not really surprising that the bear would flee when accosted by a zucchini. Certainly, bears can be dangerous, but early travelers to Yellowstone Park knew they could be persuaded to retreat. In fact, my collection of Yellowstone stories contains several accounts of people driving bears away by doing things like throwing rocks at them or banging together a pair of frying pans.

An anecdote from Eleanor Corthell’s account of her trip to Yellowstone Park illustrates the point. Mrs. Corthell, who left her husband at home and took their seven children to the park in 1903, was camped near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone when she encountered a bear. Here’s her story.


Of course, we remained here a day or two, sightseeing, cooking, resting, awaiting a telegram. It seemed sacrilegious to return to camp after that glorious gaze into nature’s proudest wonderland and go baking beans, yet we had to have a change from Van Camp’s. I wouldn’t speak of it now only that is how we came to have a visit from a bear.

The beans were not done at bedtime, so I put in pine knots, thinking they would be just right for breakfast. It was so hot the stove was outside. About midnight there was a great clatter of falling stove. Sure enough, a bear had tipped it over trying to get my beans. He was trying so hard to work the combination of the oven door that he never noticed our excitement. Not until I threw things at him would he go away. On the whole, I presume, we would have been disappointed if one bear, at least, had not paid us a visit. We never thought of being afraid, but I used all my ingenuity in hiding bacon and sugar from prowling bears, every night.


— Read more about Mrs. Corthell’s trip in my book, Adventures in Yellowstone.

— Photo from the Pioneer Museum of Bozeman

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