Final Week of Bear Hunting – Countdowns Are Hard!

Last Thursday….So the bears finally came back! I was pretty excited to see three different bears on my site. To our surprise, we had two different bears show up on John’s lower bait. One was a very small bear and another was one nice bear that showed up at 7:48 am…go figure…dang it!

big bear bottom bait
John’s 7:48 am bear

Friday-I had to work until after 5pm, so I couldn’t wait to hunt on Saturday.

Saturday, I got into my treestand earlier than usual. I had a honey burn going behind me. That’s a can of honey being cooked over a sterno fire to make a delicious aroma for bear. The place was full of scent and to make things more delicious, I brought and hung half of my frozen beaver carcass that John scored for me this past spring. The beaver was killed by a car at the end of the lake and was in the road. I spotted it on my way to taking my youngest to school so I called John and he recovered the beaver. I’ve waited all season to hang it as an added bonus since I’ve read that “beaver is bear cocaine”.

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My bait site this year…from my treestand. (c) S. Warren

The wind was swirling…like in every direction. It would swirl and whirl, and then be completely dead quite, then repeat itself. I kept myself entertained watching the several red squirrels and mice make their way to the bait for some eats, then they’d chase each other from one tree to another. I also heard lots of crashes and noises like never before. I thought I heard a “huff”–the sound a bear makes when he’s giving you a warning that he doesn’t like you being there…BUT since I’ve never actually experienced the whole experience of seeing and getting a bear, I second guessed myself, and thought I was just making it up in my head. After all, I am told you don’t hear bear, you see bear.

Eventually I had to surrender to legal shooting hours and leave the stand. I’ve been brave this year, making my way into my stand alone and walking out alone a couple of times. So once again I figured I’d walk out and meet John at the truck. Very quietly, I climb out of my stand, put my gun by the tree and put on my backpack. As I picked up my gun, I heard something take off about 20 yards from me. It ran a few steps, but then I didn’t hear it anymore. I thought maybe John was coming in to meet me, so I whistled…no whistle back…thinking perhaps I didn’t do it loud enough..I whistle again…still nothing.  I decide it’s really getting too dark so I set my gun down and take off my back pack to find my flashlight. I can feel it, but I can’t find the zipper to access it…dang…After three or four tries, I hear a noise in the woods, and so I watch over my shoulder. I finally retrieve my flashlight. As soon as I turn it on, I spot John’s light coming through the woods. As I meet him, he’s pretty pumped up…”I just ran into a bear!….Yes, I know…he was right here…he circled around me and was coming in towards the honey burn….and so off the bear ran.

Sunday – We pulled the bear bait from Athens. We never got even one bear on the bait the entire time we tried, so we went in and cleaned and removed all traces of our being there.

Monday afternoon, I sat. No bears at the bait but I still sat and hoped. John sat on the upper bait which is a switch. With no bear at the other bait sites, he’s been sitting in the truck or out scouting for edible Maine mushrooms, a new fascination of mine.

Tuesday afternoon, I sat. Still no bears on the bait. My beaver carcass is hanging right where I hung it Saturday untouched. I wasn’t feeling too hopeful, but no more than 5 minutes after sitting in my tree stand, I spot movement…hoping for a bear, I soon realize it’s a deer…a big deer…a beautiful fully symmetrical, still-in-velvet or very dark antlers…an 8 point buck! If it were deer season, I would have shot me a deer. I’m thinking, deer are not supposed to come while bear hunting…they’re supposed to come during deer season!!…perhaps this is a sign of my deer season to come.  Since I don’t have a doe tag, I’ll need to shoot a buck.

Toward the end of the night, I decided to try something new and I took out my predator call and started imitating a wounded rabbit…it’s supposed to call in bear…yeah right…it didn’t’ call in a bear, but as soon as I called, I began hearing a cow moose bellowing her mating call…over and over, louder and louder–about seven times in all. At first I thought it was John trying to call in a moose, because that’s what he does….so I call back thinking I’ll trick him…the next think I know I hear a bull moose making his grunt...it’s sort of like a glug…so cool! Okay, no John involved and there was a courting ritual taking place not too far from me. The cow and bull moose continued until I heard galloping down the road…what an exciting night! No bear, but all the wildlife encounters left me feeling satisfied.

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The upper bait…not much to look at…it’s grown in even more from this photo taken last year. (c) S. Warren

Wednesday afternoon I sat on the upper bait. For three straight nights, a smaller bear had been coming out during legal shooting hours, and we hadn’t even been checking the bait due to time constraints, and the fact that no bears had been to the bait since the first week of baiting season. John thought there was a bear there Tuesday, but it got too dark before it came out. The night felt exceptionally long. I think the woman forgot to put the turbo shot in my iced coffee. All I wanted to do was fall asleep…I hate it when that happens! The range of view is much smaller and inevitably there always seems to be noise behind me…and it drives me crazy. Finally it got dark so I could end my torture and get down… and again, no bear.

Thursday afternoon I can’t hunt. I have to work late at a formal function. There is nothing worse than not being able to hunt when the countdown is on.

Friday and Saturday are the last two days to hunt over bait. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket and spending my last two days doing everything possible to get a bear. I’m not too hopeful, and in fact I’m sort of resolved to the fact that chances are I won’t get a bear this year. Yes it bums me out, but I have to remember that each and every time I go, I am learning, and enjoying the outdoors and growing as a hunter, a woman and wife. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to spend this time with my hubby who basically has had even less chance of getting a bear this season than me, and I know that I’ll be back next year to try again. Cross your fingers for me!

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