I remember last year either reading or talking about black bear sightings throughout the Hudson Valley. I even had an encounter in my back yard while taking the compost out to the garden. To say that I quickly walked backwards into my house and locked all the doors is an understatement. My uncle, who is a hunter, asked me how big I thought he or she was, did I get a close look, was it in bear season. I told him I was too busy shaking and trying not to cry. I think I disappointed him.

Other folks, much braver than myself, actually went looking for bears during hunting season and, according to the Times Herald-Record, killed a record number of black bears last season, 1,110 and our region ranked among the top, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In fact, four of the state's top 10 biggest bears came from Ulster County. The third biggest was a 550-pound male taken down by a bowhunter in Wawarsing. 192 bears were out of Ulster County, 173 killed in Sullivan County, and 114 taken in Orange County.

While each year there is a season for bear hunting, according to the DEC there was a special early season last year in September that helped add to the total of bears taken. My uncle has already asked if he can come stay with us this year.