By MARK EVANS
Unexpected late night visitors can be annoying.
A furry visitor weighing close to 500 pounds can be downright intimidating.
Randy Vessell, who lives on Kimmell Lake Road, off of Route O south of Bloomsdale, got quite a shock when he looked at his Ring doorbell app June 5.
A huge black bear was on his front porch, helping himself to the contents of a bird feeder.
“We have deer and turkey and squirrels and a bunch of that, but I never thought I’d see a black bear – especially not on my front porch, about six inches from my face,” Vessell said.
Vessell and his wife Jari were home. Their son, Tristan, 24, lives with them, but was not at home at the time.
“I could tell the cats knew something was out there,” Vessell said. “They were acting kind of strange.”
They also feed a couple of stray cats outside. That food has drawn opossums, raccoons and other smaller creatures in the past.
“But nothing like this big old buddy,” Vessell said. “It made that Ring doorbell come in handy. I got some awesome footage. It’s pretty neat how he just drops that suet feeder down and looks around.
Vessell agreed that bears are amazing creatures and that he has no desire to see his late night visitor mounted on his wall anytime soon.
“I know there’s a hunt for them, but a bear, I have no interest in harvesting one. I’m an outdoorsman, a hunter. I harvest deer and turkeys and stuff, but a bear, I honestly just love watching.
“Once I yelled at him, he ran off. They’re really fast.”
Vessell thinks the bear might have weighed between 400 and 500 pounds.
“That was a big bear,” Vessell said. “The suet feeder with the bracket on it is seven and a half feet in the air, so what does that tell you?”
One of the first things he did was call his friend Rob Sulkowski, conservation agent for Ste. Genevieve County. Sulkowski stressed that it is common for black bears to cross through the county this time of year
Missouri is home to some 800 black bears. They tend to leave winter dens this time of year and seek food, new territory and mates.