It's interesting just how much history there is in the Texas panhandle. You name it, and somehow the Texas panhandle is going to be involved somewhere along the way. From outlaws and the wild west, to outer space and bears. Yes, bears.
In fact, bears have a very unique relationship with the Texas panhandle.
Okay, Let's Get This Out Of The Way First Before Someone Writes An Email
I'm not condoning owning a bear, or having one in captivity. In fact, I'm rooting for the bears in that situation. If you're dumb enough to poke one, maybe you deserve the face-ectomy that fate decides to hand you.
I've never met a bear named Fate, and I don't want to.
So, before you go writing an email, just know I'm probably on your side. Bears don't belong in captivity. They belong out in the wild scaring the crap out of amateur survivalists on a reality TV show.
Now that we've got that out of the way, and have hopefully convinced PETA to leave me alone over this one...
Bear Sized Legends Of The Texas Panhandle
I've heard several legends of bears living in the Texas panhandle. One of the big arguments that always pops up regarding bears in the panhandle is whether or not they actually live here or not.
Stories of bears and mountain lions in Palo Duro Canyon sometimes sound a lot like a story about Bigfoot. People swear they're out there, but majority of us have never seen one.
The Beer Swilling Bear Of The Texas Panhandle
According to legend, there was a bar somewhere near present day Claude that had a very unusual attraction for its patrons. A beer swilling bear.
Some say you could actually order the bear a beer, and the bear would just sit there and drink that barley-pop straight from the bottle.
While I don't condone holding bears in captivity, I could maybe see myself having a beer with one if he was just hanging out at the end of a long day doing bear stuff...running from park rangers, stealing picnic baskets, enjoying the bare necessities.
Bear Wrestling And A Russian Cover Up
Supposedly, and I'm not going to name any names in this one, there was to be a bear wrestling event in the Texas panhandle. There was a need for a big draw, and at the time wrestling a bear would get the job done.
At one time there were bears trained in the martial arts...in a way. They had handlers that taught them to "wrestle". Even though it was all for show, the danger was very real. A lot of men got hurt in a ring against a bear.
Legend has it that a game warden was going to shut down the match that was to take place in the panhandle because the bear was an endangered species. The way I heard it was that they brought in a black bear.
Supposedly, organizers painted the bear and renamed it. They explained to the warden when came back that the other bear was gone, and they had a new, Russian model one in it's place.
How they got close enough to a bear in order to paint it boggles my mind. Maybe that's why it's a legend.
Your Friendly Family Pet At The Turn Of The Century
Supposedly, at one point in time, it wasn't that strange to find a bear roaming in this neck of the woods. At least that's how some tell it.
When you come across pictures like this, supposedly from the area, it's hard to argue their point.
While the picture doesn't sit well with me, it is incredibly wild to me to think that at one point having a bear that hung out in your yard wasn't that strange. It was an animal you found near your family's plot of land, and you kept it as a pet.
Still rooting for the bear in these situations. That's a freaking bear. Not a Labrador.
Pure insanity, that oddly enough, you can still engage in today if you have the proper permits. Don't come at me PETA. Take it up with the State.