By Rick Hogge
-- My friend, Mark Goodwin, invited me on a bowhunt for black bear in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was joined on the trip by my good friend Tom Cardoza. We packed our coolers and hunting gear in Tom's pickup and drove over to Mark's house. We got on the road around 6 a.m. It was a long 13-hour ride to our destination.
We arrived at our guide's place and began to unpack. We were staying on a farm owned by the guide. The outfitter was Stewiake Valley Outfitters. The following day was Sunday. Our hunt didn't start until Monday afternoon, so we took a little ride down to the city of Halifax to see the sites. It's a nice city with lots to see. Monday we headed out at 1 p.m. I was in my stand and ready to hunt 30 minutes later.
I was amazed how well the stands were placed. It was a great ladder stand, with shots from 10 yards out to 25 yards away. There were plenty of bear tracks and scat at this stand, but I waited in vain. The next day was windy and rainy. Not a good day to hunt, but we tried anyway. I had one come in about 30 minutes after dark, while I was waiting to be picked up by the guide. He ate a peanut butter snack and moved on. Wednesday was nice and sunny, but very windy. However, we gave it a shot. This stand was right off a cart road cut into the forest. Once again, the yardage and stand location were excellent. I settled in, screwed in my bow holder and hung my bow. I took out my rangefinder and zeroed in on various trees and rocks.
I found that I had wide open shots from 14 yards out to 25 yards as I did in the other location. Unfortunately, the wind gusts were unbelievable. My bow was swinging like a pendulum on the bow holder. I really didn't think I would see anything, because bears are very skittish in the wind. They rely on their hearing and sense of smell, so this day would not be to there liking.
But like they say, you can't hunt back at camp. The spot I was hunting was an oval-shaped opening in the forest about 60 yards long and 30 yards wide. I sat in the stand for hours with nothing visiting but a flicker, which soon flew off. Then about 5 p.m. everything changed. Two big bears came cruising out of the woods. I'm not a bear expert, but they looked huge to me. I grabbed my bow and put my release on the string loop.
The first bear made it to the bait and started eating some peanut butter. I drew back and waited for the bear to stop. The bear decided not to cooperate, and did a 180-turnaround and headed back for the safety of the trees. Meanwhile, the second bear, which was about a third smaller in size than the first bear, circled around the bait. It walked straight toward my stand and turned broadside to me from 15 yards away. Then the bear reached down and started eating some peanut butter. I had a decision to make. Do I wait and hope the first bear comes back or take this one?
I thought about it for about one second, drew back, rested my pin on its vitals and released. My arrow raced home and connected. It growled and ran for the hills. The bear made it about 50 yards and piled up against a tree. The happy, proud and thankful feelings all rushed over me. What a great hunt!!
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