September 18, 2020

The Cyberspace Bear Story That Wouldn't Die

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It all began so innocently. Little did I know that all of cyberspace would be enthralled with a bear in a corn field story!

I had just returned from my annual Maine deer hunting trip and as one would expect, I was swamped with work. A friend had forwarded me an email with some pictures and a brief description of a bear that had become trapped under the wheel of a combine tractor. The email didn’t say where it happened, the story looked intriguing enough to pass on to readers and I didn’t have the time to investigate the story. I posted it asking readers to enlighten us all.

Slowly, the comments began coming in from readers everywhere of where they believed it happened. I was amazed at the interest as well as the diverse opinions and what was presented as “fact” of where and when it all happened. When I got comments from readers with links to the actual story of Troy DeRosier in Wisconsin, I thought that would put an end to the story. It didn’t. Readers were still submitting comments of where they thought the story happened. (If you click on this link to the original story, you can read all the comments.)

The talk began expanding until finally, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued a statement saying it didn’t happen in that state – Illinois being one of the front runners as to where readers thought it happened. As a matter of fact, they said it was a hoax.

Yesterday I got an email from J.R. Absher, The News Hound at ESPN Outdoors, with a link to another news story about the bear. It seems that the owner of the DeRosier farm, Troy, couldn’t believe all the hoopla over this bear story.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press ran with the story, again only this time with what has transpired with the DeRosiers since the event took place back at the end of October. The DeRosiers became inundated with phone calls and attention. Here’s what happened according to Troy DeRosier and his wife, Nancy.

“To me, it was kind of a big deal, but not that big a deal, I don’t think,” DeRosier said.

While combining 40 acres of corn Oct. 26, DeRosier’s machine tipped into a deep hole.

“Right up to the axle,” he said. “It couldn’t move at all.”

He assumed it was an empty badger hole — he’d come across them before — but then he heard breathing and pawing.

“I didn’t want to be anywhere on the ground when that badger came flying out of the hole,” he said.

DeRosier called his father, Don DeRosier, to come pull him out. He told his dad to bring a gun, just in case. His mom came, too, thinking it would be funny to take pictures of their son, cowering from the animal.

But it wasn’t a badger that started climbing out of the hole.

A wheel on the combine had driven into the 5-foot-deep den of a black bear, and the nearly 300-pound animal wanted out.

“We didn’t know what kind of mood he was going to be in,” DeRosier said, “so we did shoot him there.” They called the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for permission first.

Camera in hand, Nancy DeRosier started snapping photos.

“I just sent them to friends of ours down in Mesa (Ariz.) and a few of my brothers and sisters up here,” Nancy DeRosier said. “But as it went along, the stories got changed.”

What surprised me was to see the the Black Bear Blog was mentioned in the story as being the one place on the Internet looking for answers.

The author of the Black Bear Blog, part of the Maine Hunting Today Web site, asked readers in mid-November to identify the source of the photos. Bloggers guessed anywhere from Rushford, Minn., to Macon, Christian or Woodford counties of Illinois.

One poster was so sure it was none of those places, he wrote: “THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN ROLLINGSTONE MN. GOT AN E-MAIL FROM A CUSTOMER WHO LIVES NEAR WHERE THIS TOOK PLACE.”

It appears that the Internet, including the power of email, news, blogs, readers and the instant access to information, has created quite a stir that I’m sure the DeRosier family never would have dreamed would come out of getting stuck in a hole in the middle of a cornfield in smalltown USA.

As an end note to this story – I think it’s the end – I want to thank all the readers who took part in this interesting journey. I’m not exactly sure the DeRosiers would be so eager to thank you but it was enjoyable and it has expanded all our worlds just a bit more.

Tom Remington

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