Best Mining Story: getting chased in the field

“When I looked up, there was a large black bear coming right for me,” said Tom Johnson, Mine Geologist, Kettle River-Buckhorn

Our second ‘Best Mining Story’ is from Tom Johnson, Mine Geologist, Kettle River-Buckhorn who has been at the site for over 22 years and retiring this month.

A 2015 LOVA gold winner for Outstanding Corporate Citizenship, Tom is a pillar in the local community and well-known for his passion for geology and mining. He shares one of his best mining stories with us:

“In the early ’80’s, I was working for two brothers who owned a small open pit mine and heap leach pad in northeast Washington. I was doing some sampling in a thick patch of brush. The brothers had a grain farm down in the flatland, and they had a dog that would frequently go with me while I worked. 

On this particular day, I was in some terribly thick brush, and the dog was running around chasing squirrels and rabbits, and he’d occasionally come back and check on me. I was hunkered down writing in my field book when I heard the dog panting and crashing through the brush. 

All of a sudden, it dawned on me that the dog was sitting by my elbow, but the brush was still poppin’ and crashin’ and I can still hear loud panting that was coming straight at me! When I looked up, there was a large black bear heading right at me! It didn’t take long for me to break camp and get out of there.

I ran in a zig zag pattern to lose the bear. When I stopped to look, the dog was running back and forth between us, making it impossible for me to lose the bear.

I picked up the pace and ran faster. What to do? About half a mile away there was a bunch of bee hives with an electric fence around them to keep bears and other critters out.

I headed right for it. I figured climbing the fence and getting shocked would be preferable to getting caught by that bear!

But, it was lucky for me that before I got to the hives, the bear got tired and quit. I stopped and rested. I didn’t have to climb the fence and get shocked, and I didn’t get caught by the bear!

After that, I took a different route back to camp.”

Thank you, Tom, for sharing your story. E-mail to submit your memorable mining moment. 

Tom Johnson at Kettle River-Buckhorn