Congrats! There are a ton of bears in West Central Arkansas. What did you use for bait?
Don't know how I missed this. That sounds like a fun, albeit a tough hunt.
My wife has gotten progressively better at handling bear meat every year. Nowadays she can make fantastic dishes from bear meat.Sounds like you had a great hunt and you learned from it. I enjoy hearing from people who really appreciate the meat. Yeah it has to be treated differently in the kitchen, but man it's good.
Spring of 2018 I wanted to change things up for an out of state hunt, and I began researching bear hunting in the east. I settled on Arkansas and have hunted it for 3 seasons now. The first two times were during rifle season and most recent with a bow. Based on sign I’ve found and advice of others early bow season is the time to find bears.
My first year I learned that I’m not as hardcore of a hunter I though I was. I failed to learn anything but told myself I had to go back and give it a better effort. My second year I scouted harder and started to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together. I killed a big doe that year, which I am very proud of. Found old bear sign and had a good idea of where to start for a 2020 bow season hunt. I also met a new hunting buddy who has a camp there and some private land adjacent to the public. We made plans for this season to hunt on his land over bait and on public. I wasn’t opposed to hunting bait, but really wanted one on public.
Opening day of archery season I found more bear scat than I had seen during the past two hunts combined, and I finally saw a bear. I didn’t settle for the spot. I kept scouting for the next best area until the wind was right to hunt it. Never found another spot as good, so I hunted it Monday with no luck. Scouted, rebaited, and hunted again on Tuesday evening.
I was hunting off the ground sitting on a small triangular folding chair behind a couple small white oaks. About 6:30PM I was watching a squirrel over my right shoulder when all of a sudden a bear is walking behind me almost straight to me. In the moment of excited I looked down, clipped my release to me bow bow, and was busted. The bear was 15 years away and was looking at me. After a nervous stare he ran to the east and stopped. Then turned around and made a loop around me to the west. I kept my head still and listened to where he was walking. It sounded like when he hit my down wind side he ran off. I was kicking myself for making a stupid mistake by not staying still, but at the same time excited about the experience and I had definitely picked the right spot.
Shortly after I saw movement to the north west and a bear walking my way. In hind sight I think this was a second bear. He came to 25 yds. He was behind and tree about to step through I good hole I had ranged when I first sat down. I drew back but he never stepped through the hole. Instead he turns and walks straight away, the turns right again. I pick the next hole and draw back. “MEH” and he stops in an opening. My 30ydd pin was on him and I sent an arrow. I saw the arrow hit and it was lower than I expected and I didn’t feel good about it. The bear ran off and after the woods were silent I heard him moan, but I was still unsure.
Once I quit shaking I went to find my arrow. It was covered in blood. I wanted to find blood on the ground before dark and then back out. Never found blood but a few yards from where I thought he was standing I saw a black figure on the ground. I walked very slowly and quietly to it, and paused between steps to look for signs of life. Eventually it was the beand he was dead.
I laid my hands on the bear and was caught between shook up and choked up. I still can’t believe what I accomplished. When I got most of my composure back I called my dad. We have very different hunting preferences but without him dragging me as a kid out I wouldn’t be here.
Mike asked if I needed help but I told him to finish his hunt then check in with me. I started getting to work skinning the bear. I was about half way done when mike called and asked if I needed help. I looked up from the bear for the first time since I started cutting and I saw 2 golden eyes shinning back at me. I turned my light on high and sure enough there is a bear 10-15yards away staring at me. Never got nervous until after I was off the phone and could hear it or other critters walking around.
Mike got there right as I was finishing up. We put the back legs in his pack, front legs, other meat, and hide in my pack and went down the mountain. A pleasant pack out. With my tag filled on Tuesday I spent the next day getting the bear to the taxidermy and sorting meat. Thursday and Friday was a mixture of scouting and hiking, and reluctantly went home Saturday morning after having one last cup of coffee with Mike.
Also, bear meat is DELICIOUS. I don’t care if the next one is on private land over bait. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are made for eating.
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