Rick Mowery Advertising Dir. for Bohning Company takes his first bear.
As Advertising Director for The Bohning Company, I’ve worked “Behind the scenes” in archery for over 13 years. I’ve hunted here and there, but never dreamt I’d get a call from one of the industries most respected TV show hosts asking me to be guest host in his stead. Tom Nelson, of American Archer fame, honored me with his request and, like any true bowhunter, I jumped at the chance. (For more go to: Bohning Co.)
The destination was Hastings Bros. Outfitters near Bissett Manitoba. A 4 hr ride north of Winnipeg and cameraman Aaron Word and I were deep in the Canadian north woods. After getting our gear stored and meeting our guide, Bob Hyshka, we headed to the main lodge to meet our host, Tim & Donna Hastings. Tim went through sizing a bear using the barrels, shot placement and the best position of the bear for a clean and quick kill.
Since I hadn’t taken a bear yet. All this info was extremely helpful. Through the years I had heard horror stories about ground shrinkage and even witnessed a few small bear harvested at other camps. I wasn’t looking for a ‘book’ bear, just a ‘good’ bear. A trophy is many things rolled into the memory of the hunt manifested in the mount or photos. The whole experience is what Aaron and I were about to have. This was going to make a great show!
We left camp at about 11am on the first day with a full load of popcorn and an ATV. We going to ride along with Bob, our guide, accompanying him while he baited sites. This is a great way to give the hunter the entire experience, from baiting to hunting, we’d know how that bear ended up at that bait site. As we drove Bob would toss out little tidbits of info, everything from bear biology to local history. Seems that Bissett was a ghost town up until 3 years ago when the gold mine opened back up. A small mining community with modest resources. These were tough folks.
With 52 bait sites on 11 million acres, we had a lot of ground to cover. We hit our designated hunting site at a little past 4 pm. Bob had a encounter with a grumpy sow there a few nights prior, so the adrenaline was pumping right off the bat. 5 pm came and went, no bear. 6 pm, 7 pm and then a few minutes past eight, in lumbered a 5 -5 1/2 ft. bear.
Using the barrels made it pretty easy to judge. This bear provided us entertainment for the next hour as he circled us, walked to within 5 yards of the tree and eventually lay in the middle of the bait site licking grease off of sticks.
About 9 pm, a very large bear interrupted the entertainment and sent the 5 footer running for the hills. This bear came in quite different. It went right for the barrels, knocking each one over with a single swipe to the base. As it proceeded to the 2nd barrel it stopped. Perfect shot, except for the camera. Aaron had a branch covering the bear. Suddenly we heard whining noises coming from the brush. We had been instructed to wait and make sure the bear wasn’t a sow with cubs. This is one of the reasons bait sites are best for spring black bear. You get a chance to verify whether or not there are cubs. This bear was in question so there would be no shot. Minutes later we heard the ATV coming to pick us up. The bear left at quite a clip as the ATV pulled up to the tree. Good first night!
The second night was on a new stand and had less bear in store, but more entertainment. We spent day 2 in the rain watching 2 yearling cubs play, nap, chase and climb a tree right next to us. Good second night!
On our way in to the stand Bob selected for us for day 3, he told me, “If you shoot a bear at this stand, please hit him real good, tracking here is very difficult.” Of course, that is always the plan! As Bob refreshed the bait site, we situated ourselves in the tree stand. At one point, I looked down and watched Bob draw an ‘X’ with the dried, crunchy chicken grease. He looked up and whispered to me, “Right here!” Cute Bob, a bear that knows his mark, after all this was a TV show!
Aaron and I spent the first hour trying to keep the camera dry and bugs to a minimum. Close to 5 pm, I said to Aaron, “Bear!” A 5 footer lumbered toward the bait site, but stopped and began to circle. Something wasn’t right and he knew it. A little after 6, Aaron said, “Bear”, as another 5 footer came into the bait site. This bear proceeded to knock all three barrels, there goes my size chart. Luckily I had picked a spot on a tree next to one of the barrels that represented the right height for what we were looking for. Once he was done knocking over the barrels, this young bear disappeared back the way he came. Suddenly, to the right of the bait site we both said, in harmony, “Bear!” and out walked a bear that met the mark on the tree. Heart starts beating, adrenaline starts pumping and Aaron says, “Relax, just be patient”.
Cameramen often can be a hindrance, twice the scent, twice the movement, but this time my cameraman became a coach. Take your time, wait for the shot.
To my amazement this beautiful creature of the Canadian north woods walked right to the ‘X’ Bob had placed on the ground and stood broadside at 12 yards from me. As I drew my bow, I heard Tim say “Wait for the perfect broadside shot and hit him about 4 inches back from the front shoulder”. That is exactly what I did.
As soon as the arrow was released there was a loud, KA-TUNG as the arrow blew through and slammed into the barrel on the other side. The blood trail was immediate and huge. We watched him run, wobble and fall and then begin to moan all within seconds. I looked back at the ‘X’ and could see my arrow laying in it with the beginning of an incredible blood trail and thought, ‘Bob, you are the man!’ and ‘X’ most definitely marks the spot!