Here's the pic.
Still working on hunt video. I'll upload a clip or two to YouTube of the 20 min. of cat and mouse this super 370 lb boar played with me before I finally got a quartering away shot and let fly.
My outfitter, Dave Evans, of Victoria Outfitters near Millertown, NF, was confident this beautiful melon head will make Pope & Young, with an estimated 20" skull, so I'm one happy camper.
P.S. The bears in Newfoundland - at least where I hunted - are magnificent in health, SIZE, and display a fantastic blocky, melon headed look. My bear is going to make a beautiful bear rug for the man cave wall of fame.
If you enjoy a good hunting yarn and have too much time on your hands, here's the longer version
. . .
Hunting mates and friends,
In the spirit of "blood brothers", I hope you won't mind me sharing a hunting story with a somewhat improbable happy ending I just experienced. You've heard of the fella who is ". . . a man of few words." That would not be me
, so pour up a stiff one or a cup 'o Joe and lean back in your chair!
First, let me say my hunting trip to Newfoundland will vault way up my list of favorites due less to the hunt and more because of the nonstop belly laughs with my three mates who are also from Birmingham, Alabama, and two hunters from Greenfield, Massachusetts who joined us in camp. These two gents and outdoorsmen joined us and contributed to a nonstop modern day comedic return of the Civil War by way of humor that was in good fun yet delightfully relentless. Outfitter Dave Evans and his wife, Eileen, and their guides are the most accomodating, warm, hard working, and generous hosts I've ever shared a camp with. Imagine a full week being around nothing but positive, polite, and hilarious people with unending war stories to tell. I'll be hearing the Dave Evans british brogue in my head (and impersonating it, which I did all week to Dave's amusement) for years to come.
"Bruno", as I dubbed the melon head bear I took, has an estimated weight of 370 lbs, and is almost certain to make Pope & Young with an estimated 20" skull. Nose to tail 6' 3" (one of those wonderful "blocky" bears, not long and lanky). The outfitter, Dave Evans, is my hero for life as he helped track this trophy boar to a spot normally unrecoverable in thick stuff 300 yards from where I released my arrow. I was blessed with recovery on an imperfect shot result that all too often ends in hunter depression.
As for the hunt, it was one of those cases (as you'll see soon at YouTube in the video I shot) of a nerve racking 20 minutes of cat and mouse game this mature boar played with me. At 7:00 p.m., I caught him in my peripheral vision as his fat ebony block frame eased up an open lane left to right like he owned the place. I reached up quietly, flipped my camcorder to record, prayed for battery life, and composed myself. My plan was to not move an inch, give him ample time to feed a bit, get comfortable, and offer me a still, broadside or slightly quartering away shot. Simple as 1-2-3, right? But as Paul Simon said, ". . . life is what happens to you when you're making other plans
Bruno's style was to never sit or stand still for more than a "two Mississippi" count. He only gave me straight on looks, constantly moving around or exiting and returning, culminating in a decision I made (and I'd say, I would make again, just execute better) to take the first halfway still broad or quartering away shot this skiddish bear finally gave me. If I had been rifle hunting, Bruno would have been downed with ease on multiple opportunities. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought this bear knew exactly where I was, and was protecting his vitals from a lethal shot angle as he would inexplicably curl his torso into the bait barrel instead of giving me an easy quartering away shot..
After returning for the fourth time, I waited, ready to draw back and hold for minutes if that's what it took to get at least a second or two with him broad side. When he peeked in the barrel, I drew back. He appeared to hear a slight brushing of my camo sleeve, and suddenly, I was at full draw with Bruno's menacing look straight at me in a staring contest with me for 15-20 seconds. He flinched and stepped back, then calming, sniffed the ground, and then as he turned to leave yet again, I let fly
. I was elated when I heard and then saw my Easton Full Metal Jacket arrow tipped with Slick Trick 125 mags buried up to the fletching at an angle and location I liked as he turned and bolted into the trail from which he first entered.
The video I shot of the whole hunting sequence shows Bruno lunging forward a bit on my shot (along with my nerves) resulting as I would learn later in a solid liver shot, yet no lung. Gasp. Gulp. The anatomy of an imperfect shot placement is always a good evaluation for the serious hunter. Mine included the frayed nerves of 20 minutes of him being skiddish, coming in and leaving, with me having to let down not once, twice, not three, but FOUR times when he would suddenly move or head 5 yards back into the woods to dine safely. Each time I had to hope and pray he wouldn't wind me or depart for good. Lastly, having to wear bug netting over my full head to make the hunt even bearable with the black flies swarming. If you're thinking Thermacell
, I'll tell you that the outfitters at Victoria swear that bears can hear and smell the device if the wind swirls at all. And I had not practiced shooting with such darkened vison through the peep sight at an ebony black target. Tough assignment, even on my 15 yard shot.
I recovered my broken (just below the fletching) arrow right at the bear's entry to the woods. Not a single drop of blood. We backed out, and started working slowly to track him the next day, June 9th. Ron (from Mass.) insisted on joining Dave and I for the recovery effort since he had taken a super nice bear the same Tuesday afternoon. Ron's unwavering, positive attitude was in my opinion a big factor in our success, as he assured me that we would find the bear, as he knew from the video it was a lethal, albeit, not perfect shot. Every hunter should be so fortunate to have a buddy who insists on tracking til dark if that's what it takes!
We reached the shot location and very patiently looked for any kind of blood. Nada. Zip. Hand me the Prozac, please. We had to resort to bear pad tracks kicking up the mossy mast. Little or none. Then we went to patient searches of the most likely trail based on the bear's exit after being hit, and Dave's educated guesses. After 1 hour and 15 minutes, Dave started yelling for Ron and me. I wouldn't allow myself to get excited - I was already preparing myself for the sick feeling of not recovering the animal I harvested.
We moved at a brisk pace toward Dave, who continued his yelling so we could locate him in the really thick, wet, dark mast of juniper and alder floor. Yep, the exact conditions a wounded bear would head to - usually downhill as in this case. I finally heard Ron say that he was sure he heard Dave yell the word "found", which was absolutely the sweetest word from Webster's I could imagine in that moment after an agonizing night of poor sleep preceded by me being quiet, depressed company in camp I'm sure. FOUND. Only one meaning from that word!
We reached Dave, and sure enough, he was working the GPS to the direction of Bruno's coordinates. After a practical "all fours" hug of my guide which I'll never live down, we got to work.
Dave had GPS'd the spot he found my bear, and then he walked a mere 50 feet into an opening to call for us so that we could hear. To illustrate how impossibly thick the stuff was, we had to take another 15 minutes to work the GPS and get back to the spot Dave found Bruno! In fact, Dave and Ron were not getting closer than 50 feet using the GPS, so I began looking in a bent down position and working a radius of the area. Finally, I entered this 20yard square and hellatiously thick noll that was somewhat wet (always a good spot as animals like to cool down when wounded and dying). Walking 20feet, I was suddenly hit by the smell of a 18 hour down bear! I dropped to a knee in gratitude and respect, then went nuts when I got a look at the huge, bowling ball round melon head on this beautiful boar, exceeded only by his absolutely lush coat which was free of any rubs or bare spots except a small area on one inside leg.
Lessons are available to learn from any hunt, and I'm going to absorb where shot selection or other factors may have put this bear in jeopardy of not being recovered. What did Dad say? Better sometimes to be lucky than good
. There was luck in finding Bruno, but without question, the skill of Dave Evans, outfitter and tracker extraordinaire. Dave explained on our ride back that he was actually following this bear trail that a bear was recovered on two years ago at past 300 yards on the same stand! Yet, when Dave got within about 50 yards of the downed bear, he very nearly turned back to the origin of the shot to start the grid search over. The recollection of the distance two years prior caused him to keep tracking! It's probable that had he turned back, we would have not located the bear. Therein lies the “luck” part.
As a footnote, this stand was dubbed "The Warden's stand
”, so named because game warden Hayward White had given this stand to Dave Evans to hunt with his clients after more than two decades of hunting it! Before I left the area, Dave and I paid a visit to the Hayward White, a complete gentleman who welcomed us in his office and treated me to quite a bit of history of the black bear in Newfoundland.
I think I'll have the "missus", as they call their wives in Newfoundland, whip up some liver and onions tomorrow night to celebrate. As Ron and the guys repeatedly jostled me, I'm a "liver man"! My plan at this point is a beautiful bear rug for the wall in my "man cave" . . . I'll leave the light on if you wanna drop in and say "Hi" to Bruno. For some reason, he's not skiddish anymore. And the moose calves sleep a little bit easier at the above coordinates.