A story: I discovered a really good spot to see bears... so, I went up there again. Elk were mewing all around me. And, ding, I saw a bear. I like to see bears. (And yes, I had a bear tag and my rifle, but this isn't a hunting story, and the bear lives. Thanks.) I made careful mental notes of where that bear should be once I dropped into the big draw between us and I emerged on his side. Sure enough, as that spot grew visible on that convex slope, there he was munching greens like a pig, a close genetic relative.
What did I do? I sat down and watched the little guy be a bear at fairly close range. He had no idea I was there and I just like this kind of stuff. A slight breeze blew down hill as the evening cooled and that's when the barking began, not from dogs, but from the elk below me who could now smell me and sounded their alarm. And the bear jerked it's head up and stared in the direction of the barking, not in a curious manner at all, but in a, "Whoa, what's going on? Should I be scared?" kind of a way. Panic. He paced a little keeping his eye on the direction of the elk. He made quick glances side to side and finally bolted into the timber. So I stood up and followed him.
In doing this I saw the two bull elk making all the noise. Though on high alert, they didn't see me yet, so I watched them with their sleek spring coats and nubby velvet antlers. I swear, this time of year they look like wet seals, no extra fur and ready to keep big bodies cool in the summer heat. Once I resumed crunching after the bear, they found their reason to run and crashed to safety. (Hunters in Western Montana know this sound.)
Then it was quiet again, just the slight rustle of a cooling mountain, and I made my way toward that little bear and found him not far away staring right at me with what now seemed to be a very relaxed posture, "Oh, it's just you? I thought it was something scary." Hmmmm.
Anyway, why do I bother tapping this out? It's this: Sometimes you should go outside, not to run, or ride, or hike, or walk the dog, or anything like that. Just go out there and be a part of it. Sneak a little, listen carefully, keep your eyes wide open, pause to watch a distant slope with binoculars. This is rewarding stuff and it shouldn't just be the domain of people packing tags and guns. It's for everyone.