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Fort Myers man has close bear encounter in Tennessee, avoids harm

Bears can be cute, but a Fort Myers man learned a lesson to beware of them. He’s telling his story after a bear nearly pounced. The man says he has a newfound respect for animals.

It was a peaceful morning outside of a Tennessee cabin, where Jeremy Aughenbaugh was vacationing recently.

“A couple of us were up, just having coffee and wanted to watch the sunrise,” Aughenbaugh said. “Next thing you know, we saw two bears in front of the cabin.”

So, of course, Aughenbaugh says he wanted to capture the moment in nature on camera.

“It looked so docile, so cute, so friendly,” Aughenbaugh said.

And it was fast too.

“It was a shot of adrenaline, I’ll tell you that,” Aughenbaugh said. “Like my heart was pumping so fast, all of us in the cab and ran back. We lock the doors. We were just like we couldn’t believe what just happened.”

Everyone, except the bear, got back inside the cabin safely.

“I mean, I thought I could get as close as I wanted to,” Aughenbuagh said. “He looked friendly, clearly. But, obviously, he shows who’s boss, so it just gives you a whole new respect for that animal.”

Aughenbaugh says the smell of food might have drawn the bear in.

“Came up sniffing our grill from the night before,” Aughenbuagh said. “And, clearly, I got a little too close to him, or he didn’t like my social distancing.”

Aughenbuagh says his family has visited the smoky mountains multiple times and never seen so many bears. They saw four or five outside their cabin in Gatlinburg. But he doesn’t ever want to see one this close again.

“We laugh about it now but things could’ve went worse if we would’ve gotten a little too more close,” Aughenbuagh said.

When we asked what was going through his head when the bear started toward him, Aughenbuagh said, “Get back to the cabin as fast as I can.“

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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