Big bear fancies beer

Large bears certainly aren’t a rarity in Rappahannock County, but Alex Hale and Lee Ann McGovern, who live in the town of Washington, couldn’t believe their eyes when a huge black bear with an enormous head and tremendous claws showed up uninvited on their kitchen porch just beyond midnight last Wednesday.

Photo by Alex Hale

“Basically what happened was Alex heard it out back, went to turn on the light and there it was,” Lee Ann begins the story. “The dog was freaking out and Alex made a lot of noise to scare the bear away, which took a lot longer than expected. He slammed the back door multiple times, and was banging a shovel against the table outside — he was loud! The dog has scared the bear away more than once before while outside, but not this time.

“What’s odd was there wasn’t and hadn’t been any food in the trash can that he took. I never leave food out for that reason. Only a few empty beer bottles but I guess that still had a good enough aroma — or he was just thirsty!”

As additional photos snapped by Alex show, the big bruin stretched its long neck over the railing and clamped its teeth into the trash can, lifted it up, and spilled the still-aromatic empty bottles — malty craft beers to Bud Lite — onto the lawn. After which, the couple adds, the bear was in no hurry to leave.

Barley, it should be pointed out, is the preferred grain for beer and bears. In fact, barley is commonly used by hunters as bear bait..

“It was a little scary but since we were all inside when it happened it wasn’t too bad,” Lee Ann concludes, although the bear “did ruin a lot of my potted plants and decor on the deck trying to make his way up the sides.”

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at