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Bear Surprises Shopowner By Design, Sort Of Animal Jumps Up On Counter After Meeting T-Shirt Printer

Sun., June 1, 1997

The operator of a T-shirt shop just south of here was knee-shaking nervous after a black bear entered the business and hid behind some equipment.

“It scared me so bad,” Dave Neptune said.

“I was working in the house, and went into the shop, and he came out from behind some equipment in the corner.”

It happened Thursday at Montana Shirts on U.S. 93.

The bear got behind some equipment used to put designs on shirts. The equipment is in the two-car garage that is attached to Neptune’s house, and serves as his shop.

“We both backed up as soon as we saw each other,” Neptune said. “But I was standing by the only exit door.” He said he and the bear were about 3 feet apart.

The animal jumped atop a counter and tried to escape through a rear window, but it was closed, Neptune said.

“I thought, ‘I’ll have to run around by the window and shoo him out the door,’ ” he said. “I wanted to get him out of there because I have a lot of expensive equipment in there. It was like a bull in a china shop.

“But when I got to the window he was already ambling out the door, moving real slow like he knew what he was doing - in my shop and my house.”

Neptune said he is a “bear fanatic” and has a chain-saw sculpture of a grizzly bear in front of his shop. But the real bear was just too close for comfort.

“This was a large bear, real tall at the shoulders, about as high as a Great Dane,” he said.

“He stood up at one time and he was taller than me. It gets your heart beating pretty fast,” said Neptune, who stands 5 feet 11 inches.

State wildlife officials put a trap near the shop on Friday, in case the bear decided to return.


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