A guy’s going on a hiking vacation into the remote mountains out west. Before heading into the wilderness, he stops at a small town general store to get some supplies. After picking out provisions, he approaches the crusty old guy behind the counter.
“I’m going hiking up in the mountains, and was wondering–do you have any bears around here?”
“Yup,” replies the storeowner.
“What kind?” asks the hiker.
“Well, we got black bears and we got grizzlies,” he replies.
“I see,” says the hiker. “Do you have any of those bear bells?”
“You know,” explains the hiker, “those little tinkle-bells that hikers wear in bear country to warn the bears that they are coming, so the bears aren’t surprised and attack them.”
“Oh, yeah. Back there,” he says, pointing to a dusty shelf on the other side of the store.
The hiker selects some bells and returns to the counter to pay for them. “Another thing,” the hiker inquires, “how can I tell when I’m hiking in bear country anyway?”
“By the scat,” the old fellow replies, ringing up the hiker’s purchases.
“Well, uh, how can I tell if it’s grizzly country or black bear country?” the hiker asks.
“By the scat,” the storeowner replies.
“Well, what’s the difference?” asks the hiker. “I mean, what’s the difference between grizzly scat and black bear scat?”
“The stuff that’s in it.”
Frustrated, the hiker persists, “Okay, so what’s in grizzly bear scat that isn’t in black bear scat?” he asks, an impatient tone in his voice.
“Bear bells,” replies the old man as he hands the hiker his purchases.