Let me start out by saying that it has been a dream of mine for some time now to take a bear with my bow in the great state of Arkansas. Most people I talked to thought that the odds of me taking a bear in Arkansas was next to none. I had contemplated about trying public land in Arkansas, but with me pastoring a church and owning a bowhunting ranch I just didn’t find the time to give it a try.
On July 16 a good friend and customer of ours asked if I would like to go bear hunting in Arkansas. I knew when he asked me this, that this was the opportunity that I had been waiting on for several years. Not only did I know this, but I also felt like this was God’s favor to hunt on private land to fulfill that dream of taking a bear with bow in Arkansas.
This hunt would be a DIY type hunt with the exceptions of the lease manager pointing us in the right directions. Well I began to do a lot of research on bowhunting bear and baiting for them. The first thing I found out was how to make a bait barrel. I went a head and made two barrels. My friend Bruce was able to get 200 lbs of chicken fried grease, so I thought we would put grease in one barrel and sweets in the other barrel.
Fast forward to Saturday September the 11th. Our plans was to start baiting a couple weeks earlier, but we had to push those dates back to only a few days before season would start. The lease manager assured us that that would be plenty of time. The trip up there was great. It is only a 2 ½ hour trip to bear country from my door. The area we hunted in is around Hot Springs, Arkansas. Where we hunted was on top of a mountain. My pictures of the view does not do it justice. They were taken while I was driving. I wish I had stopped on some of the peaks and took some better pictures. Looking at the scenery I no doubt knew I was in bear country. As we found our site that we would set stands up, again it was no doubt this was where we needed to put the stands up and our bait at. There was bear signs every where from days gone by. Hair was on the trees 6 foot up where they scratched their backs. Claw marks on numerous trees and litter from years ago where others had baited. I left excited from all the signs that we had seen, plus the feeling of being in such a remote place where North Americas king of predators roamed.
My friend Bruce had called the lease manager and he had checked on the bait barrels for us on Tuesday. No pictures on the game camera! Bruce and I talked about it and decided we were going to go ahead Wednesday to hunt that evening of the opening of archery bear season. I prayed that the bears would find it that night or on Wednesday morning. Well the Lord answered that prayer. When we got to our stand Wednesday evening I could tell that the barrel that had the sweets in it had been messed with. With closer inspection we found bear scat as big as a pie plate. It had to be a big bear! Bruce and I both were excited after seeing that. Well we put out some more syrup, and I put some fish in the barrel of grease. One thing that I came across while researching on how to bait for bears was to do a honey burn. The process was to get a sterno can and light it and get a small can and fill it about half full of honey. We did this and then got into our stands at 3 o’clock sharp. Everything I read said that this honey burn would work to draw the bears in. It was interesting to watch the honey boil and smoke while we were waiting on the king of the woods. We waited for about 3 hours and we heard something from behind. Bruce was kind enough that he wanted to come along to film the hunt. He was directly behind me. He whispered and said it was a bear. The bear was about 75 yards behind us and then began to make a big circle. At one point the bear begin to leave the area and I began to pray and asked the Lord to turn him back around. In about 5 minutes he turned and started to come back making the circle before he came in. It took him about 30 minutes before he came in. He eased in and smelled the fish, then he smelled the syrup, and then he came over to this little can of honey and begin to eat. He was 8 yards from my stand! I eased my bow up and drew and the bear looked up and I released my arrow. He rolled around and I decided to put another broadhead in him for good measure. He died 30 yards from my stand. At this point all I could do was to thank the Lord for a perfect hunt. He gave me the desire of my heart. PTL!!!!
I have now taken a bear, and bobcat with my bow. Now I need a coyote to complete my predator collection. I was using my Mathews LX bow with 100 grain 4 blade Muzzy broadheads. The bear weighed around 200 lbs.