There is a bear #10, Dinner time, early morning, and changing gears

by david on December 8, 2019

Refreshed from a nap and frustrated with the weather, we decided to light the drinking lamp early and visit with the other hunters in the lounge.  The TV crew was there and once again congratulated Doug. There were not many hunters there at first, but they started to trickle in during the next hour or so.  There had been plenty of successful hunts, but no one had brought in a bear bigger than Doug’s so he still had bragging rights. Josh found us just before dinner and had the good news / bad news thing going.  We were going to a hunting stand tomorrow where a large “older” bear had been spotted. Bad news was that it was only a single stand and there would not be room for Doug to go along. We were disappointed, but I don’t think Doug was broken up about getting to sleep in.  Heading back to the room after dinner the rain picked up again. I started wondering if Noah letting me hunt from his “Ark” would be a possibility.

I got ready as quietly as possible and left little brother dreaming of his 618-pound date from yesterday.  The coffee tasted much better that morning. I filled my thermos early, not wanting to take a chance this batch was a fluke.  I had two cups and two packs of granola bars. For some reason, sweet pastries did not suit my taste buds that morning. Coffee supply secured and a few more packs of granola bars in my pack, I went to look for Josh.  I ran into Zack first and he had already been assigned a new hunter. This place runs through hunters like some kind of production line. That did not matter yesterday and I hoped that held true today. Josh was waiting out front and we loaded my gear into his truck.  The rain had continued through the night and had currently diminished to a steady mist. (Man, I hate hunting in the rain.) The forecast called for it to quit around dawn and I hoped that was true. Otherwise, I was going to be miserable. The rain had actually stopped a few minutes later, long before we got to our site.  The route we had taken that morning was a twisty, curvy, and around your elbow to get to your backside, kind of route and that was before we left the two lane. Once we hit the single track farm roads, I was completely turned around. The single tack was also either a quagmire of the soft soil or slicker than greased glass when we hit the parts that were more clay than dirt.  Even in the 4WD truck, we were slipping and sliding all over the place. I was somewhat relieved when we slid to a stop at a farm gate.

Turns out we had yet to start the difficult part of the journey.  If the truck had problems in 4WD, I had more with 2FD. My feet were either trying to slide out from under me or sunk up past my ankles.  I could have dealt with one or the other, but I never knew what the next step would bring, making the going more than a little difficult. Walking through this in the pre-dawn was slow and trying.  We were not going to make it to the stand before daybreak. Fortunately, I stumbled (literally) across a stick suitable as a walking staff. The third point of contact with the ground helped immensely.  I could walk with less danger of ending up face first in the mud. Doing so quietly was utterly impossible. Each time I extracted my boot from the mire covering our path, it made a loud sucking sound. No matter how I tried, the vacuum created each time I lifted my heel made a noise loud enough to be heard from some distance.

It was shooting light and we still were not to the stand yet.  We saw some bears in the open area we had been trying to sneak past and tried to get close enough to glass and possibly get a shot.  No luck. I am sure they had been alerted to our presence by the noise I made slipping and getting unstuck on trying to get to our hunting spot.  We found the stand and Josh climbed up to glass. It did not take him long to see the old bear we were after moving out of the field on the other side.  He had, sure enough, heard us and wanted no part of us, not letting any grass grow under his feet as he moved into one of the patches of forest and undergrowth on the side opposite us.  New Strategy. It was back to the truck and swap my 9.3 for the lever gun. At least this time I did not really have to worry about being quiet. By the time we got to the truck, the sun was up and out and chasing most of the clouds away.  We decided to take the truck closer and Josh was calling for the dogs to help get the bear out of the stronghold Mother Nature provided him. Looks like I was going hunting with dogs after all.

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