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With Families Stuck Close To Home, 'Bear Hunters' Take To Austin's Streets

The coronavirus and the stay-at-home orders enacted to help slow its spread have changed almost every aspect of daily life. One that you might not notice, unless you’re looking, is the appearance of stuffed animals in window frames around town.

Families stuck at home are playing a game that some refer to as a “bear hunt.” It’s similar to a scavenger hunt: the “hunters” try to spot as many stuffed animals as they can find. If you have any kids in your life (or you just like looking for things), you might want to give it a try.

Tips for bear hunting

  1. It doesn’t have to be bears. Any stuffed animal will do. Families also put paper hearts or drawings of rainbows in their windows. The “bear hunt” name probably caught on because of the children’s song “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
  2. Find a map. A lot of people displaying bears in Austin tag their houses on this google map. It’s a good way to make sure you’ll find some animals.
  3. As you walk, listen. You might have already noticed, but Austin has probably not been this quiet in decades. Without cars and airplanes to compete with, though, the birds can sound deafening.
  4. Stay safe! The City of Austin is now recommending that people who go out in public wear a fabric face covering to protect themselves from COVID-19. And, even if you wear a mask, remember to stay at least 6 feet away from anyone else on the street.
  5. Variations of the “bear hunt” game were first suggested online as a way for kids to stay in touch with each other even though they can’t play together. On the walks, keep your eyes open for other interesting neighborhood sights. It’s incredible what you start noticing about a place when you are literally stuck there for weeks.
  6. Wash your hands when you get home, and happy hunting!

Got a tip? Email Mose Buchele at mbuchele@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele

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