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The weather was
tentative, but the time was nigh. The May Long Weekend finally arrived
and, wet, windy or otherwise, I was going bear hunting. My regular
cohorts could not make it on this weekend, so I invited my coworker and friend,
Marko Tauriainen, to come and share the annual tradition with me. Two of
our three baits were being hit by multiple black bear. We set up camp at Angling Lake, a beautiful pike and
perch-infested lake in the heart of our hunting area. We topped off the
baits the first day and anxiously awaited the evening sit. We decided to
sit together considering this was Marko’s first bear bow hunt in unfamiliar
territory. I have taken several bear over the years, so was more than
happy to carry the video camera in hopes of catching a harvest on tape.
The first night was
uneventful due to gusts of wind which couldn’t decide which way to come
from. No problem – we still had a couple days to go. We headed back
to camp for the evening. Against our wishes, the wind continued to blow,
so hard in fact that we had to extinguish our thoughts of an evening
campfire. Instead of firefighting, we decided to cash in early and get a
fresh start the next morning.
Day two found us
plowing mud back to the same stand. Our hopes were high as evidence at
the site suggested that at least one bear had been there in our overnight
absence. The silence of our sit was broken when two rifle shots rang out
some 500 yards to the south. Somewhat discouraged, we sat for another
hour and then headed back to camp. Well, our objective was slowly
changing from shooting a bear to seeing a bear.
When traveling the BowKaddy is a must.
Morning came on day
three with broken skies and a quiet calm that told me, “Today’s the
day.” With the weather finally cooperating, we hustled around the
campsite, finding some food and gathering our gear. We decided to cover a
new bait, somewhat more remote but still reachable by pickup. We secured
our bows in the Bowkaddys and set out. We arrived at the bait and began
our three hour vigil over lunchtime. But the bears weren’t coming to our
restaurant. A solitary squirrel and a couple whiskeyjacks proved to be
our only entertainment. I am an eternal optimist, but Marko was starting
to think beginner’s luck was not on his side.
We returned to the
lake and placed a safer bet with an hour of high-action pike fishing. The
slough sharks were in a feeding frenzy and the mood was lightened as we
formulated our evening plans.
I contacted a good
friend in the area who is also a bowhunting fanatic. He graciously
offered us one of his stands that would surely produce a bear.
Considering our situation, we thankfully accepted his offer and followed him to
a pristine stand rising out of the Beaver River
valley. As we crested the last rise before reaching the bait, we heard a
bear scramble into the woods. Things were looking up. Way up.
We climbed into the 25′ stands as Clay ‘rang the dinner bell’ by cooking some
fresh honey at the bait. “I’ll give you twenty minutes to get your bear!”
he said before departing.
Setting the table for guests. Bear guests.
Twenty minutes later,
Marko checked over his right shoulder and behold…a bear! And a good
one! The 250-lb brute walked down the hillside right to the base of our
tree. The camera was rolling and the arrow was nocked, but the bear
hesitantly returned up the hill, never having reached the barrel.
“He’ll be back,” I whispered to Marko as I turned off the camera.
This is fun. So I just sit here and wait for a bear right?
An hour and a half
went by when we heard a branch snap to the west of us. Our sight was
limited by the dense mid-May foliage. All of a sudden, the bait barrel
was surrounded by three sibling two-year olds. Clay was right – this bait
was HOT! Marko looked up at me for the okay to shoot. Never having
arrowed a bear before, size was not an issue. I said, “Take your
pick and take your time.”
Marko reached full
draw and settled the pin on the one offering the best broadside shot. The
three hungry bears were framed by the camera viewfinder when the arrow was
released. A promising ‘thwack’ and a loud roar were heard as the bear
scattered into the underbrush. We passed the next while reviewing the
footage of the shot. “I think we can go have a look now,” I
Now this is exciting. Marko gets his first bear.
The blood trail was
found immediately and before long, Marko was standing over his very first
“bow” bear. Way to go, bud!