The sun was well hidden behind the trees now and the woods took on a darker hue. I dug out the gloves from my pack and slid my chilled hands into them. It always amazes me how quickly the temperature drops when the sun begins to disappear in the western sky. I sat back down on the padded seat of my treestand and leaned hard against the trunk of the spruce tree as if hoping to muster some warmth from it. If not for the pine squirrel scampering about the bait site, the forest would seem void of any mammal.
I was bowhunting black bears with B&B Outfitting and Master guide Martin Kirschner. Martin runs a small, family run camp for deer, moose and black bear. He generally takes 2-3 hunters per week and prefers to concentrate on affordable and personal hunts with great care given to the satisfaction of his hunters. Martin’s wife Dawn does the cooking and their son helps skin, bait, cut wood and anything else that needs attention.
I had heard about Martin’s camp and its attention to details along with an amazing track record for big bears. So, I contacted Martin and made arrangements for an early May hunt. Generally, Martin does not start his hunts until mid-May, but prior commitments had me traveling throughout all of the month taping other episodes for the Dead Down Wind American Archer TV Show, except for the first part. So Martin agreed to take me the 5th thru the 10th. I knew it was a bit early and Martin agreed but he stated he was sure we could find a respectable bear for me in a week. So the deal was sealed.
Martin’s camp was a tent camp some 50 miles into the bush. Nice comfortable canvas tents for sleeping. A trailer and tent for cooking and loitering. Also, Martin had an outdoor shower that worked remarkably well. Most of our travel to and from hunting areas was by Argo and or 4 wheelers. When I arrived in camp Martin had some 30 plus baits already baited and many were being visited by hungry bruins.
While baiting stands the second morning, Martin and I spotted a beautiful bear having a late morning brunch. Both of us agreed it was a sow but she was a good one with a perfect pelt. I had no interest in the sow, but I knew from 30 plus years of bear hunting that where there is a sow, sooner or later a boar will show up. Peak breeding season was still weeks away but big boars like to hang around sows prior to the rut awaiting their chance. So I elected to hang a stand there and hunt that bait at least for an afternoon or two. The way the bait site was tore up, I along with Martin surmised that this sow was not the only bear on the bait.
With gloves on and the mercury falling I was beginning to think about what awaited us for dinner back at camp when I spied movement off to my left. Sure enough, a bear. But not the sow I expected. Instantly I realized this was not the ebony colored sow that we caught snacking earlier today. This was a big boar and he was heading toward the bait. This bear had everything a bear hunter dreams of. Big wide head, perfect coat of hair and a body like a tank. His pigeon toed gait and wide girth was all I needed to see. If he gave me the chance, I was going to give him an injection in the form of a carbon arrow.
As he neared he stopped and gazed up at me in the treestand some 12 feet or so off the ground. Then as bears often do he walked to the base of my tree and stood up looking at me with those little eyes of his. Satisfied I was no threat he turned and wandered off a ways before turning around and walking right into the bait site some 15 yards in front of me. I watched him for several minutes before he gave me a perfect quartering away shot. With the cameraman capturing it all, my arrow passed through him as he spun around biting at his side. He then took three or four bounds and stopped and fell over. He was dead in less than 5 seconds. My Striker broadhead by G5 had performed flawlessly.
Gathering my gear I climbed down and approached my bear. Unlike many bear recoveries, this bear grew in size as I approached. It took 5 of us to get him in the back of the Argo and it was all we could do to lift him the 24″ into the back. The other hunter in camp took two bears in two days. I saw many other bears during the remainder of my hunt. One nearly as large as my earlier bear. But, I elected not to shoot one unless it was bigger than my previous one. The last evening I had two bears that were both taller than the 55 gallon bait drum, come in but passed them up. Next year I told myself.