Behind The Hunt- Black Bear Hunt Break Down12 min read
Now that you have seen the highlight video from my black bear hunt in North Saskatchewan, I’m going to break it down. Here is the full story, things you did see, things you did’nt and all the between!
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH MY BLACK BEAR HUNT
The previous day to arriving at camp, I had arrived in Saskatoon, with no bow and no baggage. My checked items had been left due to overload. I was nervous wreck worried about my priceless, most valuable possession my bow, being lost somewhere between the U.S and Canada. Thankfully my items arrived around 11:30 p.m. I had a few tweaks left to do to my bow. Keeping in mind I had not planned to be going to Canada this year, more less bowhunting so soon. With months left to deer season, I had just picked up my bow to get dialed in again 3 weeks earlier. With my bow late arriving, I did not get to take it in the night before camp as planned. This was as mall curve ball, leaving me no choice but to go the next day, eating up precious time. Saskatoon was still a good 5 hour drive from Thompson’s Camp in Missinipi. The plan was to leave out Friday morning, drop gear and head to hunt. As bears tend to be most active in the evening by the experience of my guide. With not a moment to spare, we made out pit and put the pedal down heading north!
Per the usual, as I say, boots on the ground , as soon as we arrived at camp! The resort restaurant was ready for our arrival as with any hunters, fishers coming in late. They had prepared a meal to go as we had no time to sit and eat! arriving at camp it was almost a blur how quickly I was back in a tree stand, my first time since the end of deer season for me, around the first of January. Soon enough I had checked my gear and was climbing my tree stand with my guide right behind me. remembering that the sun was deceiving for me as daylight last longer here, and the nights can stay lite entirely.
With less than an hour in the stand, we had our first visitors. Slowly coming in from the far right, but at a good distance away, came two brown phase black bears. Both by our eyes were of noticable sizes. One a sow, one a boar as they were in rut at this time.
Keep in mind here is where I first unhooked my bow with intentions of dropping my target by bow. Here I stood, seeing bears for the very first tie in the wild, almost froze in time, watching them, unsure of their next move, in a bit of disbelief so strong I could not even feel fear at this point. I was almost in a sense of not desiring to hunt them, my body began to react, and small waves of emotion came across me as my hands began to quiver, my breathing picked up and my nerves then set in. this pair came in so quietly other than the sounds of the boar as he chopped with his jaw, the first time I had ever heard this, first time ever knowing that bears made such a sound. It’s so overwhelming taking this all in at once. It’s was almost mesmerizing being in this forest that seemed so foreign to me, ground that was nothing more than shallow dirt and moss, damp moisture seemed to claim these woods as home. The very trees themselves were alien like to my eyes. I know I was in a trance as I stood there, not drawing my bow, not asking for a rifle either. These two bears passed without bother from us. I knew for one, with just a few weeks under my belt back with my bow, I could not hold full draw as long as I would usually. This was a good choice to wait a the bears did not stay in potion long for a steady sure shot. As soon as they left, I immediately began to beat myself up, thinking this may have been my only chance and I failed to make a decision. At that point I decided I could not miss the next practical opportunity to my bow, thus choosing to hang it up and go for a rifle shot next. I know very well that no matter how well trail cams have captured consistent visitors, a guide cannot guarantee anything, nature will do as it pleases. At this point all I could do is hope for another chance.
As I sat there and my nerves set in, I started to think about the chances of that being my only real shot and how I just passed it up. Thankfully soon after we saw a fully mature black bear, sow in gender. She came in and once more I had to make a decision. Discussing the decision with my guide Nelson, I decided that passing and had to accept in that moment that going home empty-handed was a better decision the long run. This based on prematurely firing and harvesting a bear I would’nt have been satisfied with in my mind. Having a image created, formed from unknown sources. So once again I was sitting in the tree stand with the thought of not harvesting a bear period during my trip to Canada all while watching this black bear for an extended period at just yards in front of me. Eventually this bear decided it was full it went on it’s way , leaving the bait site. From here my guide and I spent time discussing various aspects of bear hunting ,what to look for how to be safe and so on. I had no complaints during the wait, it helped my mind relax and enjoy the time outside overall. Sometime later my guide informed me that he had spotted a brown bear of his left side , I however did not see the bear but I trusted his judgement. Once again I sat in the tree and enjoyed the woods, it was a different type of greenery than back home and absorbing the moment was a gift in itself. The sounds of a raven, something my ears had not yet heard, the sun shinning through the trees as the night rolled in, something never seen before as the sun did not shine at this time back home. Relaxed and observing, the feeling of relaxation soon was shaken by surprise as Nelson caught sight, directly behind us was a very well-developed brown phase black bear. At this point I did in fact have a possible shot, but I did not want to take a chance of injuring the animal only to have it suffer. Once again I chose not to shoot, Nelson telling me , confirming my thought to hang tight, he believed that the bear would come into the site if my patience held strong. Within Minutes the bear did in fact loop around for it’s fourth time walking into the site at this point. This bear would’ve been a beautiful harvest with a dusty brown hide, with a full coat and body. I remember in the previous deer season I have difficulty lowering my scope and being confident , without question when time to pull the trigger. At this point I knew that I needed to make a shot specific to the anatomy of a brown bear, as previously discussed with Nelson. Replaying images my mind collected that displayed the shot trajectory. Simultaneously, In walked the dusty brown phase sow, soon showing she was not alone. Slowly the sow approached the site , then there he stood, broad and boasting deep red colors meeting browns seamlessly. Honestly don’t recall if I was breathing at this point. With memories of growing pains racing through my mind from the past deer season, it felt like an eternity. The moments of doubt, not pulling the trigger with confidence, not being patient for the right shot to present itself, the struggles of learned how to use a scope efficiently, my body took control of my mind. Without a second thought as soon as the boar stepped into clear range, presenting his shoulders, I had a clear shot I’d waited on . I pulled the trigger like riding a bike it happened so fast. It’s hard to describe how it felt with so many things going through my mind at that point. Here I am in Canada on my first black bear hunt, I’ve seen multiple bears in less than four hours ,this being the first time I’ve actually seen bears in the wild, realizing I may have possibly just made it the best shot of my life.
As my once steady hands now became uncontrollable , my breathing like I had just ran a world-class marathon, my face eyes growing larger by the second, I watched this boar make off into the forest with brute force I’d never seen. I felt as though the sky was almost spinning, my words no longer connecting, I was all but detached from reality. Slowly my hearing started coming back into focus, then suddenly reality came back into my visual range , struggling to collect myself , I comically began thinking I must look like a train wreck to a camera. It took a while for me to finally gain control of my body again. When I initially thought I had regained control I quickly realized I had not, as a second wave of emotion consumed me. Finally Nelson and I agreed it was time to come down from the stand, speak with Stephanie and wait just a few minutes. He reminded me to be listening for the death moan from unseen forest shadows, I started to try to calm down, still eager to blood trail the boar. As soon as I stood, I had to return to my seat as I became so light-headed and unsteady , still in shock, slightly dazed and confused. Eventually I collected myself, and slowly ascended back to the moss-covered , wooded terrain that was so foreign to my feet. I remember seeing Stephanie and the look on her face, then commenced the hugging, high-five and shock waves as we reconnected and compared our views and memory in those moments. There we stood in the middle of the woods, soaking in those first natural peaks of energy waiting for confirmation from Nelson that it was safe to travel into the woods , seeking that unmistakable shade of red that would lead me to my reward. I want to leave this installment hanging here, though what happened next in this story, was just as memorable if not more so than the real moments when the trigger was pulled. You can never be fully prepared or know how you will react in the moments that make up what your mind recreated as a dream so many times. However that’s the beauty of it, you can’t know what a dream truly has to offer until it’s no longer a dream but instead reality.