Adventures in Surplus Hunting
DC4 lawn ornament

DC4 lawn ornament, Military junk yard Bedford IN.

I have been going through an old back up disc and found some photos of a surplus junk yard we used to shop at in Bedford Indiana. It was always a treat to see what was new and hunt for gold in the cutup military scrap.

One of the odd things was that the owner kept bears. He kept 3 black bears and 3 Kodiak bears. As you might imagine, this turned out to be a not so good idea. He became one of those people who “got (partially) eaten by a bear”. That is, he was missing a leg, an ear, and most of one hand all from his “friendly” bears. He was lucky it was the black bears that got him– the Kodiaks would have killed him.

surplus junk yard

surplus junk yard we used to shop at in Bedford Indiana

One summer I had some time off and went down to do some shopping. After a few hours of climbing over mountains of history I headed up to the house for a break. I had to go past the bear cages to get to the house. As I came to the cages, the trainer of the Kodiaks was putting up a one wire electric fence. Now this fence was about 2 feet off the ground and made out of 14 gauge wire, not very substantial.

Lucky (?) for me, the trainer saw me and said I should stick around because he was going to bring out the big male Kodiak and work with him. At 27 or 28 years old a full red blooded American man and Italian on top of that, I had no choice but to stay. So he took BooBoo out of the cage and led him in to the wire “fortress” that was just set up. I was standing 5 feet from a full grown male Kodiak bear, watching this guy roll around on the ground and do a bunch of bear tricks with just a strand of wire between us. At this point I was just a bit nervous. There was no place to run, even if I could outrun a bear in the first place. My only hope if the bear turned ugly and stepped over the wire was to step in to the circle and hope he didn’t want to risk the 10,000 volts of DC current to get to me. I was counting on a 900 pound bear being hurt by the same voltage we would dare each other to touch when we were 10 and playing by the milk cows. I know, not much of a plan.

In the middle of the training class the trainer told me, “ Ya, I don’t even plug the fence in anymore but he thinks it’s still live. So you’re safe.” Well, I stood my ground and it all ended well that day. I even got to bottle feed the baby Kodiak in one of the other cages. I think I could have taken the baby if I had to. He was only about 150 pounds. No, now that I think about it, I think the baby would have won.


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