Most fishermen get a thrill when they throw their line in the water in the sheer hope that they’ll reel in a big fish. Others simply do it to escape from the stress of everyday city life. Brad Meck’s day started out calm, which is what he wanted. The water beneath him was serene, and he wanted to relish each moment of his alone time and, of course, focus on fishing. But then, he saw a large brown shape out of the corner of his eyes. It was floating in his direction. But Meck assumed that it was a branch, so he didn’t give it a second thought. Then, the unusual shape got closer, and it was about to mess with his perfect day. He finally saw what it was, and it certainly wasn’t a branch. He felt a sudden chill at the sight of it. He needed to escape, and fast.
Meck took off from his home in Pennsylvania one morning in May. He was headed to Raystown Lake to enjoy sun fishing, some silence, and some sun. It had been a tough week at work, and he was really looking forward to this getaway in order to destress. By the time this day was over, Meck would have an encounter he would likely never forget.
Meck lived in Everett, Pennsylvania. It was a small town with a lot of history. But it’s mainly known for its breathtaking surroundings. There are tons of mountains in the valley of the Allegheny Mountains. It’s what gives this town its everlasting presence. Everett is also known for having a massive lake that’s surrounded by wildlife and trees. People often came here with their boats, which they used in the lake. He initially considered spending most of the day on the water, but he could have never foreseen what happened next.
Meck grabbed his fishing gear and some lunch. Once he was on the boat, he cast the fishing line. With the sun on his back, Meck got comfortable and gave his feet a rest. Then, he saw the long log in the water. Meck took his sunglasses off when he saw that the log was heading towards him. He got nervous as it continued to approach, and it was coming rapidly.
He grabbed his paddle and took a look around the lake to see if he could figure out what that thing was. Was it really a log? There was no way the log was caught in a current. The lake was too quiet. And without a current, there couldn’t be movement. Meck kept the mysterious object in his sight, but he was growing nervous. It got closer to his boat with each passing second. Something about this situation had put Meck on alert, but what was it?
Meck wasn’t sure what was coming towards him. He was alone in the water, and this scared him. Then, he noticed the log had fur, and lots of it, too. Meck assumed it was some kind of rodent or possibly even a beaver. His body started to relax as he realized that he was no longer in any kind of danger. But he hadn’t realized that he probably should have kept his guard up for a little while longer that day.
Meck was fully aware it wasn’t a log. He was initially startled, so he stood up. Unfortunately, this caused his boat to rock, but he was able to keep his balance. Then, he took a closer look. That’s when the boat started to shake, and he realized he was in trouble. He crouched down and held onto the boat for dear life. This kept the boat secured. He got a chilling feeling that spread from the top of his head all the way down to his toes. This was not the relaxing day he had in mind. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the animal was heading towards his boat even quicker now. What on Earth could it have wanted? And could he be absolutely certain it was a beaver?
Meck and the animal paddled towards each other, and that’s when Meck saw that the creature was an infant, and it was barely able to stay afloat. The animal was on the log, but it had lost its grip and detached itself. It was struggling to keep his head above water. Meck knew he had to help it somehow. This tiny beaver was exhausted from paddling so much. That’s when Meck decided to dive towards the animal. But he didn’t check one fact, and that was a huge mistake.
Meck was now very much aware that it wasn’t a log, but rather a creature in distress. But the animal was too far from his reach. So, he decided to try and paddle closer towards it. He was determined to ensure that no living creature suffered while he was in the vicinity. He knew he could help this little guy. So, once he got close enough, he reached out as far as his arms would stretch and grabbed onto the creature. He hadn’t realized that this was no log, but it sure wasn’t a beaver either. So, the question remained... what was it really?
Meck pulled the creature out of the water the moment he had a good grip on it. Then, he put it down on the base of his boat. It suddenly dawned on him that this was a baby cub. And since it was a newborn, it was also weak and tiny. To make things worse, the cub had consumed too much water and was having a tough time breathing. Meck knew he had to do something to keep it from choking. He had to come up with a solution for this cub. But what could he do?
Meck was anxious at first because he was afraid the cub would bite him. He was also worried that its mom might be lurking nearby. So as the cub sneezed and released the water in its lungs, Meck kept an eye out for its mother near the shore. Meck assumed that the cub’s mother was about 10 times bigger than its offspring, and his calculations were probably right.
Meck grabbed his backpack, which was next to the cub, and called for help. He knew that having a bear this close, even a baby one, could be life threatening. As he dug into his backpack pockets, he wondered whether the cops and wildlife rescue team would arrive in time. As it turns out, neither would get there because his phone had no service. So, he had no way of calling for help. Meck only had one option and he wasn’t exactly pleased with the idea.
Then, a plan popped into Meck’s head. It was the only plan he had, and he knew time was of the essence. Meck paddled towards the shore where the cub was headed before Meck’s boat intercepted him. He figured that the mother was probably in that vicinity. Once he got to shore, Meck grabbed the cub. But then, he felt uneasy again. And then he saw something in the distance that gave him pause for concern.
The trees produced intimidating shadows on the ground, and the bushes made eerie sounds as the winds picked up. Meck mistook the noises and the images as the cub’s mother. But it didn’t stop him from grabbing the cub so he could place it on the ground. But as soon as Meck reached for it, the cub did something that shocked him.
Meck realized that the cub wouldn’t bite him. It was too calm and motionless. But that didn’t stop him from worrying about it. What if its mother didn’t return for it? Meanwhile, the cub grew stronger as it realized that it had made it to the shore after all. Now there was only one thing left for Meck to do for the little guy.
Meck allowed it to make its way back into the forest. Unfortunately, its mother was nowhere in sight. Meck took out his phone so he could videotape the cub as it walked away. The cub walked deeper into the woods, then it stopped to look back at Meck. It was also as if it was saying thanks to the human who rescued him.
Once the cub was gone, Meck headed back to his boat. Along the way, he thought about the big risk he took when tried to save the cub’s life. He also thought about what might have happened to it if he hadn’t gone fishing that day. The following day, Meck spoke to the news and rescue committee. He hoped that someone would be able to tell him if the cub was still okay on its own.
Then, he got word that a mother bear and its cub were reported by hikers. Meck realized that the cub he saved had found its mother. But Meck was the one who lucked out. If the cub’s mother had seen him with her cub, it would have likely retaliated against him. A bear’s presence can have unexpected and dangerous results. The outcome can be grim if a human goes anywhere near a bear’s offspring.
Animal experts and rescue committees urge people never to handle wild animals. It’s sound advice. One should never assume that the animal is alone in the wild. But in this instance, the cub was about to drown, so Meck’s good deed was definitely applauded. His quick thinking saved the cub’s life.
Meck didn’t get the calm, peaceful day he had planned. But regardless of the outcome, he’s glad he was in the right place at the right time. Next time, Meck might want to consider inviting a fishing buddy to join him in case he gets into a fight with a bear mother. The cub was the only catch that Meck made that day. And while the experience was rewarding, he won’t likely want to have this happen again. If you ever have any doubts on what to do when you run into a wild animal, the Pennsylvania Game Commission suggests you reach out to the nearest local authorities.