Linda K. Burch is President of WildTech,
maker of FireTacks Trail Markers and More.
Dances With Bears, Manitoba Bear Hunt 2005 by Linda K Burch, copyright May 2005
I was anxious to shake the lead out. I had spent two days driving,
another six hours on stand bear hunting, and right now running 5K on a
deserted country road in Manitoba was cosmic relief. Halfway up
?cardiac hill?, a 50 foot vertical incline over a ¼ mile span that left
me gasping, a black bear unexpectedly sauntered out of the woods and
looked up the hill away from me. I stopped; he turned and looked the 40
yards back down the hill to my now still figure.
I moved my head back and forth checking him out, and he did
the same. I waved my hands around over my head to appear menacing. He
perked up but did not move. Although feeling a bit disconcerted with no
means of protection except running away on my own two legs, I decided
to have some fun. I hunkered down like a sumo wrestler and did a lively
staccato sideways crab walk across the road and back. The black beast
in the distance decided I must be quite mad, turned tail and ran back
from whence he came. I continued my run, unnerved, but amused at my
dancing bear encounter.
I was back in Manitoba hunting a mere 40 miles from the area I
had arrowed my first chocolate color phase bear two years before. The
previous evening I had seen a small black bear, and had several around
my stand after dark, one of whom started to climb my ladder stand until
I made my presence known by standing up.
The Bald Sow
The drive to my stand on day two had a familiar enchanted feel
to it. I have had that sense on a number of other hunts in the past and
I have always then harvested animals. This stand was situated perfectly
for my left handed shot.
The concealment of the stand was ideal and we treed a bear
driving in on the ATV as we did the ?two man in, one out? strategy.
Within five minutes of settling in, the bear returned, a large sow with
most of her hair gone from the rigors of mating. I was surrounded by
bears for the next three hours as they took turns coming to the bait
barrel and skittering up and down trees. A large boar came in twice,
grabbed some bait and quickly departed.
I knew immediately upon seeing him that he was a shooter. He
had a bellicose dominant nature and scuffled with the other bears. He
had been systematically stealing food from the other bears as well.
In Manitoba, it does not get dark until 10:30pm. At 9pm the sun
was still up and I was videoing a cinnamon cub descending from eating
30 feet up an aspen tree. Suddenly the yearling cub stopped ten feet
off the ground and started huffing. I followed the direction of his
fearful gaze with my camera and there was the large boar again.
My heart started to race. I said to myself ?I am going to kill that bear?.
I set my camera down, clipped my release on my bowstring and
went to full draw. I had gone to full draw twice before on this animal
but he had exited too quickly to place the shot.
This time he was not running from the bait site and I was ready. The boar stepped cautiously
past the tangled brush and circled slowly around and up to the bait barrel.
Lining up for the Shot
The other bears kept their distance. He put his left paw on the
brim and presented me with a textbook quartering shot. I ran my pin
site up his leg and slightly right and center, held steady with my pin
sight behind the shoulder, and let the arrow fly.
The fletching disappeared and the bear folded as if he had been sucker punched. He did a
180 degree turn and ran up the hill.
I held my breath and listened, trying to still my now pounding
heart. Soon there was some crashing of brush, then silence and three
death moans. I was not sure if I actually heard the death moans and
wondered if I had imagined them because I wanted the bear so badly.
I was told by Ed the outfitter that if I shot a bear early, I
should leave my stand and go to a high hill where he could see me when
he drove by in his truck. I waited another ten minutes, descended from
my stand and went to retrieve my arrow in the distance. It was embedded
in the ground and covered with bright red blood.
I was concerned that it was not the frothy blood usually
indicative of a lung shot but I was certain my shot was true. I left
the bait site and walked to what I thought was that high hill that Ed
had earlier pointed out.
I stood there for a few minutes and as it began to rain, I saw
two bears come out of the woods 60 yards in the distance. They were
fully aware of me and looked my direction many times.
They frolicked for ten minutes and appeared to almost dance on their hind legs a
number of times before disappearing into the adjacent woods.
I got down on my knees there in the rain as the sun set, and I
prayed. I thanked God for the opportunity to shoot such a magnificent
animal and I prayed my kill was clean and quick and that the animal
would be retrieved quickly. Coyotes were staging and howling in the
distance as the rain continued.
Author with Spring Bear
We later found my bear where it dropped 35 yards from the kill
site. It weighed 245 pounds and might even score Pope and Young which
would be a first for me.
Others of our hunting group were looking for larger animals,
but this bear was my personal best by a large margin and I was
thrilled. When dressing the animal later, we found I had a good
heart/lung shot. I was pleased.
Jerry Helget with Color Phase Blackie
Our hunting group had great success, even given the hideous cold and
rainy weather. On day 1, Steve Bryant from Grand Rapids, Minnesota,
arrowed a 325 pound chocolate color phase bear. On day 2, I arrowed my
Day 3 saw Jerry Helget of Forest Lake Minnesota take a
beautiful color phase bear he had seen the night before. Its back was
blond, sides were cinnamon and its muzzle and paws were dark almost
like a Siamese cat. It too was potential P&Y.
On Day 4, Larry Prossen from Florida arrowed a nice 280 pound
black sow bear. Rob Evans from Wisconsin held out for a trophy and by
choice did not take a bear on our hunt. He saw 400-500 pound bears that
he did not have a shot at.
This was my first Spring bear hunt. I have always hunted bear
in the Fall, running my own baits on my land near Isle in Kanebec
County. I had never hunted bears in rut, or when they were coming right
out of hibernation.
Although baiting is common to both Spring and Fall,
bear behavior is markedly different. Whatever the reason, the black bear remains for me the most exciting game animal to hunt!
Linda K. Burch
Linda K. Burch is the President of WildTech Corp., the maker of the exciting Fire Tacks
reflective trail markers and tapes. Linda is an avid hunter and quite a
talented writer. While her articles will not always cover the various
aspects of the hunt, they are filled with life in the outdoors. So read
her tales, they will make you smile, they will make you reflect. Other Columns By Linda…