The Naturalist's Corner

Gun-toting tourist deters smarter than average bear

Setting: A campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, nightfall, Jan. 13, 2009.

911: Hello, 911, what’s the nature of your emergency?

Caller: Hey, hey, hey, it’s an emergency in nature!

911: Just stay calm sir.

Caller: That’s easy for you to say — there’s not a gun pointed your way.

911: I recognize that voice! It’s Yogi Bear. Did you say gun, Yogi?

Yogi: I didn’t say bun, although a bun is what I was looking for.

Voice in the background: Step away from the picnic basket.

911: I’m sorry Yogi, but you must be mistaken about the gun. The GPS signal from your phone says you’re in a national park.

Yogi: Did you hear that Boo-Boo? It’s been so long since I ate, I’m starting to hallucinate.

Voice: I said get away from the picnic basket!

Yogi: Hey, hey, hey, Boo-Boo, you talk to the hallucination, I’m gonna eat some bacon.

Boo-Boo: I don’t know Yogi, he looks real to me.

Yogi: That’s because you’re an average bear and you know me — I’m smarter — Wait! What?

Gunshots in the background

911: Yogi, Yogi, are you still there? Are you OK?

Yogi: Hey, hey, hey, if you call dodging bullets OK, then I’m better than the average bear. I think I’ll just leave that pic-a-nic basket right there.

More gunshots

Voices from tent one: What was that?


Quick, get your gun, someone’s shooting at us!

911: Oops, I was wrong. It’s now legal for tourists with conceal and carry permits to tote loaded guns in the park.

More gunshots

Boo-Boo: Duck, Yogi!

911: Right, lame duck president George W. Bush rescinded former neo-con god Ronald Reagan’s 1980s ruling that states firearms in national parks and refuges must be, “... rendered temporarily inoperable or are packed, cased or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use.”

Tent two: Somebody’s shooting at us from that other tent, get your gun!

It’s right here, in my sleeping bag, locked and loaded.

Fire at will!

Which one’s Will?

Just shoot!

Yogi: Duck or no duck, that’s a pretty lame ruling – what gives?

911: Well, there’s a saying in politics, “you gotta dance with the one that brung ya,” and the NRA’s been lobbying hard to get that rule changed. Besides it’s a way for Dubbya to stick a thumb in Obama and the Dem’s eye – a parting shot.

Tent three: Yo’ mama? I’ll show you yo’ mama! (pulls his gun and starts firing through the flap.)

Yogi: Hey, hey, hey the shots are parting this way. Pardon me, while I run away.

The campground has erupted into a full-blown firefight as two shadowy figures (one large, one small) slip away through the darkening woods.

Boo-Boo: Yogi, what was that all about? Why were all those people shooting at us and everything?

Yogi: Hey, hey, hey it’s just the way our departing compassionate conservative has decided to make our national parks and refuges safer.

Boo-Boo: But how does allowing people to carry immediately accessible loaded guns make things safer — especially for animals like us or mountain lions or endangered timber rattlesnakes or other animals that people think of as scary or dangerous?

Yogi: Ah, Boo-Boo, you’re just a baby bear. No one expects you to understand the workings of great, humanitarian minds.

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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