Recently I have started hunting, the mentoring of a few friends and the purchase of a crossbow later and I’m slowly feeling the draw to the woods. One thing I have not been crazy about has been morning hunts. It amazes me that hunters will regularly walk headlong into the dark at like a stupid hour that nobody should, to go to sit in the woods. It’s not the sit that really bothers me it’s more the getting there. I’ve tried it a few times, not crazy about the idea of walking into something that can see a whole lot better than me and is a lot more comfortable out there. So I would rather come in the early afternoon and climb up into something that gets me out of harm’s way. This afternoon I opted to climb straight up a small ravine treating it as my personal stair step machine. I thought about how proud my doctor would be of me for getting my heart rate up as I eased my way up to catch a trail that leads to the top.
I got up to the top of the small mountain and slowly made my way across a ridge. I was very interested in checking a game camera I had set over a buck scrape to see who had happened to walk past. I continued on past the tree stands at the top and headed back down the longer and easier trail to where the camera hung from a tree.. I grabbed the camera and headed back up the trail. The area looked promising to me so I stopped along the way back up the hill to where the tree stands were.
I knelt down for a few minutes and was thinking about sitting down right along the trail. I knew some deer had been passing down below me from earlier camera pics so I knelt there for a good while trying to decide if I should sit down and hunt from there. I got up slowly and decided to head up to the tree stand area and look around. I was in full camo except for some required blaze orange on my hat so I guess I was pretty tough to spot because as I started moving back uphill, there he was.
Coming right along the ridge and just entering the trail I was on was a pretty good size black bear. My first thought was “I could shoot that” my second thought followed immediately “I didn’t buy a bear tag”. In an instant more calmly than I would have imagined, I decided to scare him away. He was close enough to shoot, with my crossbow, I believe he was probably 50-60 feet, I was definitely more concerned at how mad he would be if I didn’t hit him right and just ticked him off.
Earlier in the
Now I don’t know if this was a good idea or not but for some reason when confronted with what had been a pretty reasonable fear, I felt pretty confident in what I needed to do. I knew if I backed downhill away from the bear I was limiting my way out. If I went down the trail behind me I would quickly lose sight of the bear but I would have to cut back below and take a long slow trail out and not know where he was. He was between me and the way I knew was back to my truck so I decided to take David’s advice. So I yelled at him and started waving my arms…the bear wasn’t impressed.
Get Oughta Here!
I’m pretty sure he didn’t see me too well in the waning light. I was in full camo a pretty dark Mossy Oak pattern. I’m pretty sure he thought I was another bear. He slowly turned away. I instinctively did what anybody would do nowadays…I turned on my phone camera to video him. The thought ran through my head “well at least they’ll have
I’m still kind of processing as I write this. I’m thinking about how traipsing around in the woods probably ought to be a team sport for one but also about how close I came to facing a very real danger. One thing for sure, that was cool as hell. I’m not looking forward to another encounter like that but that really was pretty cool. I will never forget seeing the jet black silhouette in front of me and his distinctive brown snout. Did I handle the situation perfectly? I dunno. I know I faced a fear that was lurking in the back of my mind for sure.
On the drive home one of my favorite songs came on by the Avett Brothers.
Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black dress drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
We’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die
One thing stands out as I
I hope by reading this you think about your own life for a moment. Not what you would do when faced with a bear in the woods alone, most of us have ordered our life to avoid such encounters. There will be a day however when we all must face the inevitable.
How will you react when the black dress drags upon the ground?