Learning to Talk Bear
Learning to Talk Bear
320 pages

Learning to Talk Bear

God's music is wind soughing through threetops, dove wings whispering at waterholes, the mournful cry of a lost-in-the-fog honker. It's a harmony that became addictive, and carries even into my dotage. Elk music took me to the dance. Bears -- particularly grizzly bears -- keep me dancing.

Grizzlies, you see, are the Marine Band of the animal world. They swagger with the calm indifference of an animal who knows he has nothing left to prove. So why does this John Philip Sousa of wildlife resonance -- an animal who may really believe us superior creatures, but who are in no way reconciled that we are masters -- receive such a bum rap from the planet's most fearsome other creatures ... us?

Good question; not all grizzly bears are Jack the Rippers in fur coats. Perhaps that's the reason for this book.


what people are saying:


Learning to Talk Bear Award

Learning To Talk Bear is Roland's best selling book -- now in it's 5th printing. The book was offered to 17 different publishers and rejected by all. "Who cares about grizzly bears?" they said. Well, for starters, how about the 2 million people visiting Glacier Park and 3 million visiting Yellowstone each year? So Roland and Jane published the book themselves. They're laughing all the way to the bank.


Learning to Talk Bear Award 2

The book Learning To Talk Bear is the best book I have ever read and prepared me for my first grizzly sighting.

-an amazon.com five star (*****) review from Elizabethtown, PA

I bought this book Learning To Talk Bear because I desire a knowledge of bears, their life, their existence. Reading this book has opened my eyes to more than I ever thought there was to learn. I even bought a map so that I could see the areas he describes. If all books about grizzlies and bears are this enjoyable, I have a lot of reading to do.

- [ email from Susan Bearer ]

Voice of the Wild

Roland Cheek, a former outfitter and now an outdoor journalist who has studied and observed grizzlies for many years . . . says that most novice outdoors folk are fearful or uncomfortable while hiking or camping in grizzly country. And why not? Most print or broadcast journalism covering bears seem enamored only with grizzlies that kill or cripple people. . . . How great is the risk? Not nearly so much, Cheek writes, as one might think, provided people understand bear ettiquette and use travel and camping practices the animals can understand. Such ettiquette and practices are described in "Learning to Talk Bear." To write the book, Cheek took advantage of new research indicating that grizzly bears are trying to get along with their human neighbors. Indeed, as Dr. Charles Jonkel, dean of American bear researchers, says: "Bears have better senses than we do and they know their environment better than we do.If we only knew how many thousands of times each year they take care of us ... and we

don't even know they're around." Jonkel says in the book that there are two reasons people are killed by bears. First, people do not understand bear ettiquette and second, people's rules are too inconsistent for bears to understand. Study bears have been closely monitored for years. Discoveries include grizzlies living in areas densely populated by humans who don't know the bears are nearby. In other cases, the bears appear indifferent to humans: sow and cubs feed on lawn clover while subdivision home owners shoot video footage through their living room windows. The outdoorsman or woman, however, mainly is concerned with how bears may act in the wild if they are unexpectedly encountered on the trail or if the bears enter a camp. The book describes many experiences Cheek and others have had with grizzlies, including some hair-raising stories that most people are content to read about rather than experience firsthand. Cheek is a strong believer in continuing bear

research and sharing the information with the public. The bear's future depends upon people being educated and understanding more about bears. Cheek points out that he spent over half a lifetime amid the great beasts without being seriously charged, mauled or batted around by a grizzly. He wonders at the book's conclusion if he was just lucky or if he had inadvertently learned to talk bear?

Voice of the Wild is a widely circulated outdoors tabloid published in Landisburg, PA




Tacoma's The News Tribune had this to say, by Outdoor Editor Bob Mottram: Cheek is at his best when he's describing bears in action, and at his best, he's excellent

more reviews

"I just read Learning To Talk Bear, in fact I read it twice, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything. - Harry Fuller / Helena, MT

"It is about time somebody wrote a book that could be understood by the general public about the grizzly bears and wild country." - Smoke Elser / former Pres. MT Outfitters & Guides Asso.

* Is the above testimonial why one contest judge in the Crown of the Continent Nature Writing Contest wrote on her evaluation sheet: "Wonderfully readable--colorful--should have appeal to a wide and necessary audience. "

"New book paints perfect portrait of grizzlies."- Mark Henckel, Outdoors Editor, Billings Gazette


"Roland, have you considered having your books transcribed to tape?"- Joe Garcia

[Joe is visually impaired, for him and others like him, Learning To Talk Bear is available through Montana's Talking Book Library--ask your librarian.]

"Your story (Learning To Talk Bear) was so moving, so humorous, and very personal." - Cheryl Fryberg/ Marysville, WA

"... I started to read it and it keeps you wanting to finish the story. It sounds just the way Roland told his stories around the campfire."- Blanch Hilliard / Sugarloaf, PA

"Just finished Learning To Talk Bear, and felt I just had to tell you what a great job you did on it." - Bud Journey / Libby, M

other publication reviews!

Chapter One

Learning Curve

The Brittany spaniel burst over the hill. That the mutt was in unaccustomed flight didn't register until the angered grizzly bear exploded into sight, hind feet spinning past ears in hot pursuit.

Hunter had, for eight years and thousands of wilderness trail miles, traveled as my companion. Over those miles and during those years, I'd seen him put the run on several bears met in surprise encounters. And I know the wide-ranging dog had confronted others beyond my ken without so much as a speck of unpleasantness. But this bruin was different; this one appeared to have no clear grasp of either canine or ursine custom. Prudence dictated the dog's options.

The spaniel was, of course, more fleet than his pursuer. But each time he gained ground, the dog, disbelieving a bear like this existed, slowed to hurl another intended-to-be-intimidating bark over his shoulder.

To the grizzly, the dog's pauses served as teasers and the barks insults. I might have though the scene hilarious had not the runaway caboose and its trailing locomotive been headed for my station. The dog gained a few steps and again lost ground by slowing to curse his ursine pursuer, then wheeling and racing toward his master. If the stupid mutt expected me to get us out of this brouhaha, he would've been comforted to know my thoughts were coursing along the same lines. . . .

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