Tom Ross

Tom Ross

Tom Ross: Great bear story necessary for stature in Steamboat


Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or

Find more columns by Tom here.

— There was a time not so long ago when one’s status in Steamboat Springs' society was derived from the quality of one’s sports adventures. The queen of the hill was she who skied bumps the fastest, and the ruler of the river was he who made a first descent of a mountain creek in a kayak.

Not any longer.

In 2012, nothing confers stature on the denizens of the 'Boat like a bear story that tops all others, unless it’s a really good moose story. And I’m afraid I’m falling behind in both categories.

It seems like every day, somebody in Steamboat posts a picture of bears doing something previously unheard of — moving into the house next door, playing checkers at the community center or entering the courthouse to register to vote as independents.

Let me guess, next, some cowboy will saddle a male black bear and attempt to ride it into a tavern. And the bear will order a round for the house. Jose Cuervo-o-o, you are a friend of mine …

Late Friday afternoon, Victoria Jackson posted a cellphone photograph to Facebook of two moose showering in the lawn sprinklers along the pedestrian promenade at the base of the ski area. Don’t the moose know we have water restrictions in place in Steamboat?

Kristi King Hoffman bagged shots of the same animals wading in a pool while conventioneers walked by seemingly unconcerned. That’s how commonplace moose have become in Steamboat. The tourists yawn at the sight of them.

But it was Jon Wade who snapped the moose photo of the week, capturing a shot of a huge bull with antlers so big Billy Demong could have hung all of his World Cup skiing medals from them. That’s not a lot of bull, but it certainly was a big bull.

Earlier in the afternoon, Coleman Cook posted eight photographs of a mother bear who picked her two cubs up early from Soda Creek Elementary School so they could go on a camping trip. It happens every day in Steamboat.

My pathetic bear stories just don’t measure up. I mean, you don’t get props anymore just because you saw a bear in your Dumpster. I need a story about a bear cub coming down the slide at Whistler Park. Or a photo of a moose joining in a game of pickup soccer.

So, here goes:

I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. last Monday, when out by the Dumpster there arose such a clatter, I rose from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew in a flash. But it wasn’t a jolly old elf in the trash.

It was a gigantic bear with his snout firmly stuck, in a discarded can of Hormel corned-beef hash!

How’s that for a bear story? Do I get some street cred now?

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


rhys jones 4 years, 6 months ago

Heh, I coulda reached out and petted that one, snuck up on me -- wasn't no grizzly, but I'll bet he ran around 400 or so. I was kneeling down smoking a cigarette outside the Ore House kitchen, where I worked, when a coworker emerged the building and said "He yours?" initially thinking that was my DOG (it was dark) over my shoulder. And tempted as I was to scratch his ears, better judgment ruled, and I stood up so as to be taller, at which point he ambled grumblingly off, me being between him and the dumpster.

Then there was Mama Bear and Cub on the bike trail, got me standing on the pedals going the opposite direction, not even taking the time to look back.

Tom, you wrote of elk bugling recently, and I thought I might add -- I spent most of the summer in the Whitewood region, so I was blessed to see many elk. And while the cows' barks all sounded pretty much the same to me, the little calves knew which was which, because they'd come scurrying when Mom called. They were fun to watch playing, rearing and butting heads, or boxing with their hooves.

One night a bull elk woke me out of a sound sleep with a start, at maybe 4 AM, so nearby was he, and so loud and shrill his whistle -- I thought it was a fire alarm, at first. It scared me.

I like a good animal story too, the scarier the better.


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