It was the fourth day of a six day hunt and Freddy and I were having an incredible time. I put my first tag on a 6’6” bear just two days earlier and Freddy and I were still flying high after he tagged a beautiful 6’10” bruin the very next night.
This would be my last sit of the trip and I was a bit nervous because it was raining. We were hunting some very remote locations but rain plus the roads we were traveling on, equals MUD. The skies had yet to open up as predicted, but we decided to play it safe and stay closer to “home” on this sit.
Outfitter, Jason Packer, of Big Bear Country Outfitters…Zama City, Alberta, decided to put us on a bait where another hunter in camp had encounters with a nice chocolate and a big black bear earlier in the week. When Jason mentioned color phase, I was super excited. I filmed a friend shoot a beautiful blonde bear on my first ever bear hunt and the thought of getting one of my own had me very excited.
This bait site did not have a camera stand so we headed out earlier than normal, giving us time to get properly set up for the afternoon hunt. Jason and Freddy headed in first, taking a stand and the camera gear. When Jason returned for me, the rain was starting to pick up. Both Freddy and I were prepared for rain so we didn’t let it “dampen” our spirits.
After our first hour with no action, I was a bit surprised considering the fact that we had been covered up with bears the first three nights of the trip. The rain probably had a little to do with it, but I had total confidence in Jason’s stand selection for the night.
About half way through our second hour in the stand, a giant of a black bear appeared out of nowhere....slipping in to just 5 yards through the thick brush before we were able to spot him. Most bears I’ve ever had encounters with took their time coming in…giving me the impression they were not the dominant bear in the area. Not this guy….straight in and straight to the beaver that was hanging from a ridge pole.
As I reached for my bow Freddy whispered that we needed to get some good pre-roll of the encounter before I took advantage of any shot opportunity if it presented itself. After what seemed like forever, I looked to Freddy for an “OK” and he giggled…informing me that it had only been 40 seconds. This is when my heart really started to pound. The biggest bear I’ve ever seen….EVER….was standing less than 20 yards from me and I could do nothing more than watch and get ready for the “green light” from Freddy.
This tank of a bear was standing at the bait, easily reaching the beaver and I knew it was just a matter of time before he pulled a piece off…allowing him to return to all fours. When a large chunk was almost pulled free from the carcass, I gave a nod to Freddy and prepared to come to full draw.
Now on all fours and a snack in his mouth, the bear headed back the way he had come in. Inside 10 yards and just one step away from the thick cover, the bear stopped just long enough for me to send a Spitfire Maxx on its way. There was a loud crack as it pinned the opposite shoulder and the bear was quickly out of sight…followed shortly after by that sound that all bear hunters listen for to confirm a successful hunt.
Once on the ground, we wasted no time on the recovery and I could not believe what was at the end of the blood trail. This bear was everything I had dreamed of and more. I had gone from four previous bear hunting experiences that were disappointment after disappointment…..to a hunt that would never be outdone!!!!! A 6’6” and a 7’5” just three days apart…not to mention encounters with two other bears pushing seven foot and the total number of bears seen on this trip.
Zama City’s Big Bear Country Outfitters is NOT a world class destination…it is THE destination!!!!! Thank you Ralph & Vicki for this amazing opportunity, and thank you Jason Packer for a hunt I will never forget!!!