Black bears on the hiking trail?

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



Roads that are straight and that end at a gate

Are not half so enticing to follow

As are long roads that twist and are lost in the mist

Like the path of the south-flying swallow.

—-Robert F. Scott

I no longer own a backpack or a trail tent, but it hasn’t been too many years ago that I did, and I used them. It was the most enjoyable pursuit in the outdoor world, in my opinion, those hiking/camping trips along a wilderness trail.

The month of May was the best time for such an activity. I carried binoculars for watching birds and other creatures.

I stopped wherever an hour before dark found me to build a fire and prepare supper, usually something that came from a can or pouch and could be quickly heated. Or maybe I would just build a campfire and roast a hotdog and toast some marshmallows for dessert.

Then came the pleasure of sitting around the campfire and listening to the whippoorwills and the hoot owls.

I put up the tent, blew up the air mattress, and crawled into the sleeping bag for generally a better night’s sleep than I could find in my bed at home.

The longest overnight hike I ever made was about 12 miles along the now defunct Jenny Wiley Trail, which led for about 80 miles southeast from Tower Hill overlooking Portsmouth to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park at Prestonsburg.

Now, with this bad back I suffer, I can’t do much farther than 100 yards without looking for a log to sit down on.


There’s room for speculation these days that such a trip through Kentucky or Ohio woods might lead to a confrontation with a black bear.

Bear sightings have been on the increase in recent years.

Not checking with recent times, but just looking at some papers lying here on my desk, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife reported 224 sightings in 2013, up from 93 in 2012.

Kentucky now has a black bear hunting season in Harlan, Letcher and several other southeastern counties. Only four were taken by hunters in 2011 and that increased to 12 in 2012.

Wildlife officials said black bears are making their way into Kentucky from West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.

If you see a black bear, common sense tells you to respect its territory.


The butterfly bush in the side yard is ready. It is filled with reddish-pink and purple blossoms.

But something’s missing: the monarch butterfly.

Three years ago, I photographed dozens of monarchs filling their bellies with the sweetness of the blooms.

Last year two or three visited the bush. But this year there are none.

No doubt they are still plentiful in some regions of North America, but it does not seem to be the case in northeastern Kentucky or southeastern Ohio.

The monarchs join those from other regions in migrating in the autumn to winter as far south as the mountainous slopes of central Mexico.

It’s an impressive sight when as many as a hundred thousand are seen winging their way toward their wintering grounds. Then, In March, like flocks of migrating birds, they make their way back north to spend the summer.

The butterflies arrive at their roosting sites in November. They remain in their roosts during the winter months and then begin their northern migration in March. No individual butterfly completes the entire round trip. Female monarchs lay eggs for a subsequent generation during the northward migration.[2] Four generations are involved in the annual cycle.[3]

Is anyone else in the region noting the absence of monarchs?


I did it again. In last week’s column featuring the Cave Run Crappie Crew, I misidentified my old friend, C.G. Barker as C.G. Wright.

C.G. Wright was a friend of many years ago. He and his wife, Lona, owned the Star Point Fishing Resort on Dale Hollow Lake. My family and I enjoyed many summer vacations staying at Star Point. C.G. Wright and Lona died quite a few years ago.

But C. G. Barker – that’s B-A-R-K-E-R – and his wife Kathryn are alive and well, and enjoying life in Olive Hill, where C.G., a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, is a former flash on the varsity basketball team for Olive Hill High School, now identified as West Carter High School.


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (66) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (66) 932-3619.