Day 1 - Bear Hunt 2009

Linda on my stand
The walk out was dark, through high grass, swamps and deep mud sometimes up to my knees.  This egress was a wormhole through thick cover with branches grabbing at my face net, hat, gun and packpack, pulling me off balance.   A couple times, I nearly belly flopped in the quicksand-like guckum.  I heard coyotes howling a few hundred yards away.   I imagined… getting boogered down in mud up to my thighs, surrounded by coyotes who intended to make me their supper.  My imagination is a good thing actually.  Two hours before I thought I heard that familiar swooshing of forest understory, the only sound one hears when a bear is approaching, if one hears anything at all.  I went to fever pitch adrenalin with my heart pounding in my ears in three seconds flat.  Alas.  It was only raccoons.  Afterwards, I wilted from the lighting jolt of the excitement.  Yes, I like my vivid imagination.  And yes, I am a weekend adrenalin junkie.

racoon at the bear bait
Emerging from the wormhole, I caught sight of the full moon through the buck brush and spotted my truck on the field edge.  The 30 acre field had tulle fog undulating lazily with the evening thermals as it glistened in the moonlight.  I just stood there agog.  I had hours before begun a heady case of the “poor me’s”, wondering why I was even bothering to hunt this year.  I broke my arm, could not bait, could not arrange tree stands, and could not experience my primary thrill of bear hunting, that is, figuring out those hairy beasts.  Now with a busted arm, I had hired an outfitter and was missing all the preparation that goes into opening day.  And from nowhere, God blessed me with an ethereal moon and tulle fog vista and I realized, there are so many reasons why I love to hunt.

Bears are the smartest critter I pursue.  They often have me patterned long before I figure them out.  The whole courtship of coaxing a good sized bear to a bait site I have personally managed far overshadows the actual bear kill.  I guess I had better like baiting since I’ve only harvested four bear in ten years so the thrill certainly is not purely or even primarily why I’m out there, or I would have quit long ago.  No, the thrill is in the pursuit.  But even more, the thrill is being in a forest cathedral, high up a tree, in dead quiet except for popple leaves rustling, chipmonks bickering, the buzz of an occasional mosquito and that tell-tale swooshing when something of volume is gliding through the thick cover beneath you and it has no idea you are there.
David Love, from Iowa got a bear... the only one!