My First Black Bear

I felt like a young child anxiously counting down the days to summer vacation and after months of preparation and anticipation, June 3rd was finally here. Our journey began at 4:00 am and would consist of 45-hours traveling time from Baytown, TX to Saskatchewan, Canada. The drive was long, but I enjoyed the scenery, wildlife, company, and many laughs we shared along the way. We finally arrived after three days of driving and 2,500 miles away from home. Upon arrival we met up with our guide, began packing the quads, and set out on a one-hour quad ride followed by a one-hour boat ride, which we made each day to and from our hunting locations. About 10:00 pm and still daylight, we docked the boats on High Rock Lake and settled into our lodge at ‘Top of the Rock Adventures’. While lying in bed I recalled stories of people claiming that they were out in the middle of nowhere often wondering what that might feel like and remembering that the nearest town was over four hours away.

Monday morning began the first day of our five-day hunt. Anxious with a two hour quad and boat ride ahead of us, our guide finally parked the truck and we made our way down the trail to our stand location around 1:00 pm. Jeremy, our guide, Mel, Josh, and I carried everything we needed making one trip as quietly as possible. I am an avid whitetail hunter and entering the woods during daylight after lunch setting stands was not what I was used to, and it felt all-wrong. Distracted by carrying gear and watching every footstep made in the lichen, my guide stopped on the trail watching a bear moving towards us from 100 yards. With my heart racing, I quickly went into hunt mode and readied for a shot. The bear closed the distance within 30 yards and then turned and walked away from us. With my heart pounding and in disbelief that the encounter had happened so quickly, we continued the stalk. The bear circled around us and we settled ourselves 15 yards away. At this point I had such an adrenaline rush and at the same time, one thought kept running through my mind, “You are crazy! There are two bears 15 yards away and you are on the ground with them.”

You have to remember that this is my first bear hunt and I had no idea what to expect from these bears. After what felt like an eternity, the brown color phase bear finally gave me a shot.  I took a deep breath, drew my Hoyt Vicxen, and settled the pin behind his shoulder and watched my arrow hit its mark. I was confident with the shot and watched as the bear made his way through the pines with excitement. It was one of those hunting stories you hear about wondering if that really happens to anyone while hoping to experience it someday. After all the high fives and congratulations, our guide decided it was best to take Mel and Josh to their stand and then come back to track my bear. After two long hours I finally was able to start tracking and we found my trophy lying 150 yards from where I shot it. He was a gorgeous chocolate and cinnamon color phase bear and an experience of a lifetime. This was our first trip to Canada, my first bear ever, with a bow, spot and stalk, on the ground at 15 yards.

As for Jeremy, he did have an opportunity at a black bear, but elected to pass with his heart set on a larger one. This was the first day and the first hour of our hunt and we still had four a half days remaining to make something happen. As it turned out, Jeremy never had another encounter but we remained positive with each day’s confirmation of the bears’ presence by our trail camera pictures.

Although Jeremy did not come home with a bear, he did have other items on his bucket list that he was able to check off while he was in Canada. It was a beautiful crisp calm morning on the last day of our hunt and his first cast off the dock, Jeremy had caught a nice 38” Northern Pike.

We had an awesome trip with great friends and made countless memories and stories to share. If you ever get a chance to take a trip to Canada, it will definitely be one that you will never forget!

Hunter: Heather Huntley

Cameraman: Jeremy Huntley