Morel Hunter Saved by Beer and a Bear

The following is a Press Release from the Washington Post

Joanne Barnaby and her friend Tammy Caudron were searching for morel mushrooms in an area near Fort Smith when they were separated. Barnaby was accompanied by her trusty dog Joey.


Barnaby recalls, “I heard this growl behind me. There was a long, tall, very, very skinny wolf. A black wolf. And his legs were spread and his hair was standing, and he was growling, and baring his teeth.”

This black wolf seemed to know what it was doing and was pushing them back further into the woods. Barnaby said, “He was trying to wear me down. He was trying to separate Joey and I,” she said.

The 12 hours were maddening for the woman. Dehydration and fatigue aside she was faced with maybe the most brutal predator of all: “I was going crazy with mosquitoes. There were zillions of mosquitoes.”

At about 4:30 in the morning the next day things took a brighter turn, if you can call it that. In the distance she heard the obvious sounds of a bear cub wailing and its mother bear and this created an idea of pitting one predator against another.

“I realized that there was a chance that the mother bear would tackle the wolf if she felt that the wolf was a threat, so I made the choice of walking towards the cub,” she said.

After walking towards the sounds of the bear and her cubs for around 20-minutes the crazy plan seemed to have worked. Barnaby said with relief, “I heard this big crashing behind me and realized that the mama bear had attacked the wolf, or maybe the other way around, I don’t know, but they were fighting and I could hear the wolf yelping and I could hear the mama bear growling and I could hear all this crashing and I just took off!”

Once the woman and her dog had traveled some distance they came upon a lake and felt saved, partly by one of the only things that she had brought along with her- a can of beer. “I had brought one can of beer with me. Silly choice,” she explained. “That little can of beer ended up saving my life.”

Mosquitoes, wolves, and bears aside she had renewed energy to scramble her way to the road at this point where the scene of rescue vehicles a mile or so away were a welcome sight.

“Don’t do what I did. Don’t go without your gun,” she said “Anything can happen. If I had had that gun, it would’ve been a very short situation.”

Thankfully Barnaby and her brave little dog survived the situation and can tell their story. A lesson learned for outdoorsmen and women everywhere who feel a simple trip into areas they are familiar with are safe to travel with the minimum of gear.

Story by Craig Raleigh revised by CalSports
Source: NyTimes, WashingtonPost, Cbc News
Photograph by CBC News