My First 25th Hour Black Bear

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I left my house already tired but excited at 4:00 am Saturday the 20th of September, headed for my buddy Brad's house in Booneville, Arkansas. I couldn't sleep the night before so I spent most of the night watching Buckmaster deer hunting videos. The 4-wheeler, the climbing stand, the bow, and backpack was loaded in the truck and as my drive ahead was about 1 1/2 hours, I kept thinking "today feels good." I finally arrived at my buddy's house and was amazed at how much cooler the weather was, closer to the Ouachita Mountains. {About 70 Degrees} After a brief run down conversation with Brad, we loaded my equipment and ATV in his trailer and truck and headed off to the wilderness. Getting to flood mountain was no problem: Getting up flood mountain was not so easy: We drove the 4-wheelers up and in the mountains as far as we could go in which there we parked, found our first flag from the earlier month of scouting, and began the mile walk along the mountainside of some of the roughest country I have ever had the pleasure of hiking. By 6:30am we were at Brad's stand location and he began setting up.

My stand location was two more draws farther down the mountainside, so I eased my way around Brad's location and found my spot pretty quickly. Once set up and sitting in the stand, I watched carefully and quietly, enjoying the scenery. As an avid bow hunter, I am used to the outdoors and love to watch for whatever will become the "highlight of the day." This hunt was a little different than the deer hunting I was accustomed to. I saw only one squirrel all morning, and no bear. My radio buzzed about 11:30am. Brad had called me suggesting we scout another area about 8 miles away that he knew of. So, back to the 4-wheelers we went, only I elected to keep my climber at the bottom of my stand location. There was just something about that spot that I was so drawn to. About 4:30pm we arrived back at our ATV parking spot on the mountain we were hunting that morning, with no luck on scouting the other location. I was back in my stand, quick, fast and in a hurry. 5:30 pm I was sitting once again in my spot, watching and glassing for any sign of movement. Listening to the acorns drop from the white oaks I was in, I heard what sounded like a tree falling, just on the next draw directly in front of me. I could not see the area of the falling tree, but could observe approximately 45 yards all the way around my stand. I also watched over 2 very promising trails that looked as if they were being used on a daily basis. Several fresh broken limbs in the trees around my spot ensured me I was deep in bear country. At 6:14 pm, I could not believe what I was hearing. Someone was cutting wood with a hand saw, just on the other side of the draw I was hunting. I was floored. I kept thinking to myself "who in their right mind would build a deer stand this deep on public land on the side of a rattlesnake infested mountain?" Unmotivated now, I kept in my seat and whispered out loud, "Well, you never know, so I think I'll just sit tight."

10 minutes later, from directly in front of my stand, I saw her. She was a big sow, 300 lbs plus with beautiful black fur. Her snout looked almost white as she breathed deep and hard after her climb up the very draw I was hearing someone cutting wood from. Then it clicked. Wood was not being cut by a hand saw as I previously thought, it was her. The big black bear was panting as she climbed the deep draw she had appeared from. Out of breath now, she slowed her pace and took a break. The bear was 24 yards from me as she sat down for her breather. I watcher her in amazement and realized that this was the first bear I had ever seen in the wild. My heart pounded harder as she began to approach my stand, walking slowly down one of the two trails I was on. She would stop, look around, walk a few steps, and rest again, while looking around once more. I observed behind her and every spot I could see or hear to identify if she was alone or not. No doubt in my mind, nope, no cubs. No other bear in sight or hearing range. The closer she got, the more nervous I was, and, the bigger she got. I waited for my opportunity to draw my PSC Nova, and was pleased when I was at full draw, sights on the bear, and she had no clue I was there. At 11 yards, she stopped, looked to her left, brought her right leg over her left one as if she was going to turn her traveling direction. I picked my spot, breathed shallow, squeezed the trigger release, and "Bam". She was hit hard and fast. The 2" mechanical Rage broad head did its job very well. The arrow was a complete pass through and I was sure I had made a swift and clean shot. The bear jumped, spin in a small circle twice swatting just behind her shoulder, then took off running to my left. She slowed her pace as she trotted a half circle around my stand ending up behind me. I watched her crash and then "nothing."

I could see her and she wasn't moving or breathing. 10 seconds after the shot, she was down. Not only was she down, and after I paced off the distance later, she was only 22 feet from my stand. Immediately after she crashed, my radio buzzed and it was Brad. I said in a low tone voice "Yeah, what have you got?" He replied "Man, I hear a lot of commotion going on and it is pretty close to your area." I said "Well, that's probably because I just dropped one 300 pounds plus". You could hear the excitement in his voice now "Are you kidding me, really?" I told him "No, really, I can see her right now". He asked "When do you want me to come over there?" I paused, looked at the bear, listened, and completely calm stated "Now if you want, she is down, and she ain't moving." His final statement was "Ok, on the way".

I climbed down after memorizing her location from my stand, then, waited on Brad to show up. He arrived pretty quickly and had a big smile on his face. We talked about the events that just took place and then walked to the bear. Seeing her, I became very cautious and checked from a distance for any sign of life. She was definitely taking "the long nap." Then: Everything was so calm… I realized then, what had taken place. I was the first member in my family to have ever harvested a bear. I had conducted my first bear scouting trip, bought my first non-resident 3 day bear license, seen my first bear in the wilderness, and harvested my first bear on my first bear hunt. That was an amazing feeling. I have harvested some really nice whitetail bucks in my life, but never had I engaged in this kind of hunt. No baiting, no calls, no hunting guides, no nothing but me, the wilderness, the bear, and good old fashioned hunting. Brad was so excited he blurred the picture on my cell phone camera.

Now, once the hunt was over, we realized we should have planned better in the event a bear was harvested. We tried to move her after she was field dressed: No luck. We tried dragging her: No luck. We tried putting her on a pole and carrying her out: No luck. We tried using a pack cart: No luck. We tried getting some more folks out there to help us: No luck. Nothing we tried seemed to work. We were stuck in the middle of the wilderness on the side of a very large and rough mountain with no way to get her back to the 4-wheelers. We tried for 5 hours, mostly in the dark, and had only moved her 5 feet. I called my brother in-law and he suggested I cape her from the shoulders back. I desperately wanted to save the meat, but my attempt was not successful. After I caped her as suggested, we were able to get her back to the ATVs and man was I ever so glad to see those 4-Wheelers. It was now 7 ½ hours from the time I took the shot and we weren't even down the mountain yet. At 4:00am Sunday morning, we arrived back at Brad's house, took a few pictures and I headed back to Oklahoma to the taxidermy man. The check in was easy; at least I had a cell phone to make the call to check her in on my way home. I finally got home at 5:15 am Sunday morning. 25 hours of bear hunting adventure. I am always learning about hunting and love to learn different methods. I believe that what I have learned about bear hunting in this area is this: [Tip] If you're going to hunt deep in rough country, on the side of a mountain where you can't take a ATV, and you're going after big game that you're not strong enough to drag out or pack out even with help. I don't know about you, but, I think I will take some pack mules with me the next time I hunt really big game.

Comments

Critter done's picture

Nice Bear

That is a great looking bear. My brother lives in Arkansas and talks about seeing bear every once and awhile but never talked about them being that big. That must be a super nice bear foe Arkansas,

Great Job and Awesome story. Thanks for sharing.

Bear Story

Thank you very much.  I enjoyed every minute of it and appreciate that you liked my story.

numbnutz's picture

sweet bear, great story,

sweet bear, great story, thanks

ManOfTheFall's picture

Awesome bear and story!!!!!

Awesome bear and story!!!!!