Just a quick story to give you an idea of what Tom was like. Tom was one of our network guys at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. Tom was pretty smart in a definite redneck sort of way. Tom also had bouts of, well, let’s just call them moments of sub optimal intelligence.

Tom liked to hunt and fish. Tom owned an air boat. Tom used to go waaaaay up the Chena river into the back of beyond and set up camp. He’d then leave the camp and come back to “civilization” and work. Then the next weekend he’d head back up the river. Well, Tom had a problem with bears messing with his camp while he was away. Bears being big ole grizzlies. This is central Alaska remember. Something about grizzlies that may not be obvious. They’re very curious animals and like to check out things that are strange or different. Like fishing camps in the middle of nowhere.

So, like any good smart guy, Tom came up with a plan. He was well and truly fed up with the bears poking through his camp. So, on his run down to civilization, Fairbanks, I guess you could call it civilized, well, if you’re drunk enough. Anyhow, during his work week Tom ran over to the hardware store and picked up a bunch of plywood and nails. Long, pointy nails. He then went back to his camp and had a good time fishing and hunting for the weekend. Then when it was time to head back to Fairbanks he hatched his plan. He took those sheets of plywood and drove hundreds of nails through them and placed them in a circle around his camp. A veritable mine field of nails. Those damn bears weren’t gonna get his camp this time! And back to Fairbanks he comes.

Now Tom was proud of his plan. In fact he bragged about it to those of us poor folk who didn’t have fishing camps. That is until he went back and checked on his camp, or what was left of it.

It seems that bears when they are wandering around just being bears, well, they get kind of pissed when they step on a nail. Kind of like people really, I suppose. Well, imagine how pissed you would be if you stepped on say, 20 or 30 nails. Every time you tried to get off of one nail you stepped on another. Well, I don’t know about you or I, but that bear was really, really pissed! By the time it was done dripping blood and shredding anything in sight, well, Toms camp was pretty much gone. We’re talking shreds of camp covered in bear blood, and plywood scattered to the winds. The camp was totally and utterly destroyed.

Tom never did see the bear, at least he never mentioned seeing it. I imagine the bear had enough of the whole fishing camp experience and lit off to better environs. I do know that Tom never admitted to trying the nail trick again.  I guess it’s just better to let the bears poke around rather than piss em off and have em destroy your camp.

So, lesson to those who want to set up a fishing camp in the back woods of Alaska. Don’t be smart. Let the bears poke around and don’t, no matter what, piss em off.

And if you’re like me. You can’t get the pictures of one pissed of bear, bleeding and angry, ripping and tearing that camp apart, out of your head. Even after all these years it still brings a smile to my face. 🙂 Sorry Tom. But, damn, what a story.