Nichole and I left for beautiful Manitoba a week ago Sunday morning in pursuit of our dream to shoot a black bear with our bow. 4:30 am came early and we were up and on the road to God's country packed and loaded for bear!
The border crossing went smoothly and we entered Canada! Morale and spirits were high. Nichole and I would both have a tag in our pocket and we talked most of the 8 hour drive about bears. What we would shoot and what we were looking for in our hunt. Nichole decided any bear would do just fine. I wanted a pope and young bear and would hold out as long as I could for one I thought would make book.
We arrived at the motel we'd call home for the next 6 days and made ourselves at home. Shortly thereafter we met Josh and Brad from Outland Outfitting who would be our guides for the week. Josh is a Bowsite sponsor and he and Brad were outstanding. Tags were issued and we geared up for our first night of hunting and headed out to our bait for the evening.
Earlier that morning we had talked about what kind of bear we each wanted. That being said, this was a great bear but Nichole was up to bat first and the thought never crossed my mind to pick up my bow. Nichole sure grabbed hers though and prepared for the shot.
The next night we headed back out to the baits. Nichole felt comfortable enough after seeing her first bear to sit alone and I felt confident in her ability to choose the right shot and handle herself without concern in the stand. Our guide Brad suggested that I sit the bait the bear had been on the night before and having Nichole sit another bait with a little closer shot. I decided against it, this was Nichole's bear and I wanted her to get a second chance at him. She had all the ranges dialed in for that bait as well so we discussed it and agreed she would take that bait and I would take the other. Nichole settled in and of course immediately started taking selfies of how scared she was of bears!
Little did Nichole know that as she was taking that selfie her bear had snuck into the bait! Brad had done an outstanding job of rearranging the barrels based on how the bear had approached the night before to force him into a better position for a shot.
Nichole put her phone down slowly and quietly and picked up her bow. The bear was standing at the barrel at the perfect angle. She felt like he was in a great position and I quote her "I drew back and looked through my site to see what it looked like." Everything looked perfect based upon the 100's of videos she's watched so she settled her pin and sent the arrow on it's way.
I had not even gotten into the stand at my bait when Brad says "Who's phone # is xyz?" I said "That's Nichole's #." My thoughts instantly went into overdrive thinking something went wrong. Brad says "She shot a bear." I grab my phone out of my pocket and I had 7 messages from Nichole! Ha! We scampered back to the Ranger and hustled back to Nichole's bait. We immediately found blood and lots of it! After 40 yards of blood trail this is what I found.
She had made a perfect shot on a quartered away bear. Her little rig almost got full penetration. The arrow was stopped in the hide on the far side and worked it's way back out as the bear did its death run. She had heard the death moan and knew the bear didn't go far. She had tears in her eyes and a smile as wide as the Canadian sky on her face. She had gotten her bear, and what a bear it was!
She had taken the same bear we had watched and video taped the night before. He came in right away after we had left. She was over the moon with emotion at what she had accomplished. She had practiced hundreds of hours and and it was over in minutes. It was the proudest moment of her life after the birth of the kids. I think the only one more excited than her was me! I was overjoyed for her! Lots of hugs and picture taking ensued.
I jumped in a few with her and she wanted pictures with Josh and Brad and everyone was all smiles! I still had a bear to shoot too! We wrapped up pictures and I hustled back to my bait for the rest of the evening while Nichole and the boys took care of her bear.
I settled in to my bait and thought about how much this meant to her and how much confidence she gained by taking her bear and my smile could not have been any bigger. I kept my eye on the bait and hoped my bear would show up soon.
As the bear approached the bait I decided he wasn't quite what I wanted. He was a very nice bear but I didn't think he'd be big enough to make pope and young minimum so I relaxed and enjoyed the show taking pictures and video galore.
The end of day 2 involved lots of celebrating! Nichole will probably treat me like she treated that bear when she sees I posted this picture! Ha! There was no way she wasn't having the time of her life!
Day 3 came and I headed out alone. All the other hunters in camp had hung their tags on bears and I was the sole hold out. I wanted a big bear though and there were still some out there. The weather has changed over night and it was windy and spitting showers. The bears didn't seem to appreciate the weather much either and I had my first skunk of the trip.
The bears seemed intent on berries and oak nuts the next two days as I was skunked on both. The bears where there hitting the baits at night or hitting baits I wasn't on. We were losing the chess match. Brad was working his butt off trying to get a bear in front of me but unfortunately it wasn't playing out the way we wanted it to. Regardless of whether bears came in or not I was having the time of my life! Elk were bugling all around me each night and I enjoyed the beautiful Manitoba scenery at each turn. The thought of Nichole's smile and the bear she had taken were plenty to keep me going and enjoying every minute of my hunt!
The last day of the hunt arrived and I decided to bring Nichole out with me. I figured what better way to end a great hunt than getting to hunt 6 days, tagging a bear the last day and having her there to watch it! Morale and spirits were high as we prepared to head out.
We settled in on bait that had not been hunted previously and had a BIG bear on camera. He had been there pretty much every day, sometimes at night, sometimes in daylight. We figured it was our best chance so we decided to give it a go.
The elk were bugling again and this bait had to be in the prettiest spot in Manitoba as far as we were concerned. We waited patiently for my bear that was sure to come and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the north.
Unfortunately my story doesn't have a fairy tale ending. The bear didn't show in daylight. The call of berries and acorns were greater than the call of frosting, oats, and grease. We were the final hunters of the year so we helped pull down the stands and headed back to the truck. We were still in high spirits and laughing and joking all the way back.
The next morning we loaded up the truck and headed back to the good old USA. We had the adventure of a lifetime in a Manitoba and we are already trying to find a way to make it back! The bears may have found a way to elude me but one thing I found plenty of was memories, and those will never fade away. I'll get my bear someday, until then I'll just smile and take the abuse from Nichole! Ha!
Thank you must be said to Josh and Brad at Outland. They were excellent guides and worked hard for us. There have a great area with lots of bears. Give them a shot of you're interested in hunting bears, they'll take good care of you!
Congrats to both of you!!!!! I was very involved in your first thread and it's great to hear the success story . You passed up on a beauty and Nichole smoked a gorgeous bear . as far as I'm concerned that's called success. Couldn't be happier for you guys!!!!!!!!
Ridge Runner, Nichole shoots a Mission Craze, 24" draw, set at 40#. I have not chrono'd her bow but I would bet her bear she's under 200 fps. She shoots 100gr Slick Trick standards on 26" Easton FMJ 500's. Best of luck to your daughter this fall!
Thanks Brotsky My daughter also shoots a Mission.She has harvested 1 doe and 2 turkeys with her set up. May try your set up with the slick tricks though as she has unfortunately lost 2 deer.She really wants to get that 1st buck .She is very busy as a teacher and soccer coach but still puts her time in when she can Thanks again for giving me the info and congrats again. RR
I thought I would bring this back up on the anniversary of Nichole's big day just to put this ribbon on it. Nichole's bear scored exactly 18", just enough to make the book....and no, she still hasn't let me forget it!
Amazing! Congrats, that looked like a really fun trip...and incidentally if there was an award given to couple with the nicest teeth I'd vote for you two...amazing choppers the both of ya:) Of course you have lots to smile about too!