If you haven’t already read the first part of this story you may want to take some time and look it over. It’s a great story and you may be a little lost as to where we are picking up the story. We will wait here for you to get back….
Ok, let’s jump into it where we left off.
….In what felt like an eternity, the close encounter played out in just a matter of minutes. Raising his head, he simply stepped back onto the trail and continued to walk along the edge of the clearing. At 10’ out I raised the bow and drew it back as slowly as possible. The bow was shaking so much that I couldn’t steadily keep the sights on him as he walked directly away from me. Meanwhile, my window of opportunity was quickly diminishing. At 30 yards out, he stepped over a log. Leaving his hind feet up on it he paused for a moment. Still too shaky to make a clean shot, I stood there holding my 70 lb bow at full draw. He slowly made his way into the trees on the opposite side of the clearing. Lowering the bow with a sigh of relief, I could breathe again and actually enjoy what just happened. The thrill of a lifetime! Overwhelmed with excitement and frustration, I walked over and sat down on a nearby log. Blown away with what just happened, I set the bow down on the log at my left side. Sitting there in silence, I began to replay the encounter over and over again in my mind. It’s rare that I let an animal just walk away, but I knew that I never had a clean, confident shot. Coming down from the high, I soon became grateful of the everlasting memory that was just created and I realized that the slightest change to my self control could have taken a nasty turn for the worst and what had become a fond memory could have been a living nightmare! Praise God! The Lord was watching over me.
After about 30 minutes had passed, now calm and content, I suddenly realized that the hunt was not over. From the north side of the clearing, movement caught my eye. I looked up to see the same bear walking back out into the clearing, heading back toward the creek. For the second time in the same day, I made the exact same mistake, not prepared! Dry leaves beneath my feet, my bow laying on the log and once again not facing the right direction to make a bow shot. I was trying to make the most of my current poorly staged opportunity, I stood up while grabbing my bow and knocking an arrow. Not able to move my feet again, in one fluid motion, I twisted my body and drew my bow, following him with the sights broadside as he walked behind the only log 30 yards out into the clearing. He stopped. Right behind the log and the only standing tree in the entire meadow. I saw a window through the branches. I wasn’t about to let him go a second time. Quickly I set the sights on him through the six inch opening and released. Thump! With all of the excitement that had taken place in the last hour, I had forgotten the yardage and shot as if it were 20 yards instead of 30. Though I was dead on, the arrow placement was 2” low and the broad head buried itself in the log. Suddenly he bolted to the south edge of the tree line where he stopped and looked around trying to understand what made the loud noise. I knocked another arrow and drew on him. Now any successful bow hunter knows that distinctive sound of an arrow connecting with its prey. By sight and sound I knew this time I made a good shot as he bolted into the trees. For ten minutes I quietly celebrated my first victory with a bow. The success of a perfect shot was indicated upon retrieval of the blood soaked arrow. Daylight was now quickly fading in the deep ravine of old growth pines and firs, so I went to work tracing his exact steps into the trees. Now I’m beginning to doubt my so called perfect shot because I couldn’t find a single trace of blood anywhere. Crawling on my hands and knees through the only logical path he could have taken, I searched and searched for the slightest sign. Armed with nothing more than a small Mag light, I crawled through the dense dark thicket in what was now pitch black darkness. I looked for blood. I looked for hair. It was like he had just vanished into the darkness. Then it caught my eye, a glimmer of light that reflected off a single drop of water which had been splashed upon a blade of grass at the creek’s edge. Yes! I then knew that I was at least on his path. Leaping across the creek, I fell to my hands and knees in search of the slightest clue. Unbelievable! Still no blood. How is this possible? The arrow passed clean through him and the blood on it indicated a lung shot. “I’m gonna be here all night” I told myself. “There’s no telling how far he went.” Then with an unsuspecting turn to my right, just like a sleeping cat that was startled, I nearly jumped out of my skin when my hand touched the warm fur of the bear lying in the darkness. For the 3rd time in as many hours, I had to catch my breath and calm my racing heart! There he was, not 20 yards from the point of impact, lying dead in the thick brush at the creek’s edge.
Although this archery bear hunt turned out to be an exciting and successful hunt, it could have easily been a tragedy. Hunter’s Best does not recommend intentionally placing yourself in harms way for the thrill of the hunt or any other reason for that matter. Please be safe out there and happy hunting!