First off, thanks to Scar Finga for organizing The Adventures of “K114” tribute to Kelly Harris. I remember becoming a member of Bowsite around 2007. I quickly learned that Kelly was one of the good guys, and enjoyed his many posts and annual threads. My heartfelt condolences to the Harris family.
Now for some background, as some of you here probably have come to realize, my son Noah was going to try and take his first big game animal at 12 years old. The first animal that he could legally take would be a bear. So, when I read the tribute that Scar Finga had organized I knew I needed to be a part of it. I was scheduled to receive the knife on May 10-23. But as you guys know with hunting, wind is everything and if I could get it sooner I should probably try. I contacted Altitude Sick (Jay) if I could get it sooner; he said that he would ship it as soon as he got back from Africa. Well true to his word, he did. Thanks Jay, this wouldn’t have been possible without your speedy delivery. And thanks for the note, Noah thought that was cool.
We went shooting a bit in the winter. Noah improved drastically from the summer. I think just growing bigger and stronger was helping him hold the bow that much better. I would turn the poundage up every week, just a bit, and before we knew it he was pulling the 40lbs required by Manitoba law.
The time came to get the bait. We use corn and old fryer oil. The method we like to use is lots of bait, and only hunt with a good wind. I like to set baits with some sort of obstruction behind my stand, like a field, lake, river or an open meadow, so that bears only want to come from a certain direction and limit circling. Carcus picked up the corn and I took care of dipping for oil.
This year I decided to try and find a new spot, one that will hopefully become a giant producer. Every year I keep seeing Carcus with giant bears, and I wanted the same. So, off I went checking landownership maps. I contacted the landowner and before I knew it I had permission. When Carcus, and I got to the property for the first bait trip there was a bear waiting for us. Things were looking good.
For his 12th birthday Noah received 3 Iron Will broadheads. He experimented with the Magnus Stingers and the Iron Wills, and ultimately decided to trust the IW. They might be expensive, but they keep an edge even after shooting into targets all day.
After some final practicing Noah was ready to hit the bear woods. He has been hunting with me since he has been 3 years old. He’s watched a ton of hunting videos, and we have gone over shot placement and angles. I felt confident he would be ready. I thought of using a laser pointer on the bear for him, but decided that he was not only ready, but needed to experience this rite of passage partly on his own. No amount of training can fully get one ready to put the pin on the animal and shoot.
We received the journal and knife on Monday. It was a very cool experience to read the journal entries and the good luck notes. The knife was in perfect condition and razor sharp. It was ready to skin out a Manitoba bruin. After making our journal entries we were off to Carcus’ place to pick up more bait. He signed the journal too. Sorry no pictures of the big bear legend. He’s kinda camera shy.
Noah's turn to hold the bow. I remember that first feeling, and now my son was able to experience the same thing.
Noah's turn to hold the bow. I remember that first feeling, and now my son was able to experience the same thing.
We finally arrived after a long ride. I looked at Noah as we were driving up to the property, and said, “you could be shooting your first bear in an hour.” The look on his face was priceless. I wish I had a camera man with me to get all the action. He said he was starting to feel the butterflies. I told him that’s normal, and a good thing, it means he is ready for action. We loaded our stands, and our packs. Time to walk in!
As we were walking in we saw a bear on the bait. I asked Noah if he would like to stalk it and see if it’s big enough. He said yes, I had to remind him to put his release on. It ended up being a small bear, and ran off before we could even get a shot. Setting up the stands was a chore, since our designated tree was an ancient poplar and didn’t allow me to easily wrap my arms around it. Finally after a very long time and some sweat equity the ambush was set.
Not a lot of bait was gone, but there was good sign. I was still happy with the progress of a virgin bait. The first bear came in shortly after my noise making party. He was a beautiful 5 footer that Noah elected to pass. I told him there was nothing wrong with shooting this one for his first bear. He said, no, he wanted to shoot a 6 footer or bigger. Well he didn’t have to wait long for his opportunity. About an hour into our sit, here he comes.
The target bear comes in easily, and without a care. I told Noah that I would guess the bear at 6 ½ feet. He decided to pass. I started whispering in his ear, that this would be a really good bear and that if he passes he is waiting for a 7 footer at this point. I would love to see him shoot a giant, but also want him to be looking forward to the next goal to accomplish. He said he really wanted to see what else would come in. I knew the weather was supposed to turn and with that the bear action would most likely slow down. He asked if I would shoot it. I told him not now, but if it was my first I wouldn’t hesitate. He decided to shoot and drew back, but just before the arrow was released the bear turned and he let down like a veteran.
Noah waited for his chance and when it came he drew back. But as he was drawn a gust of wind came. I told him he could let down if he needed. He never did and took the broadside shot. Well the shot was off the mark and hit the middle of the middle (MOTM). I have never believed in hitting bears intentionally there, but I was hoping the MOTM apostles were right.
The shot was a complete pass through, and the bear tore off to our right and then circled back. As he was running I told Noah he gut shot it, not a great dad moment. He was very disappointed. But then the bear stopped briefly and tore off again directly behind the bait. I heard a crashing noise, and thought it might have been his death run and tumble. I told Noah he just might have died right there. It was mixed feelings in the stand. We traded places as now I would be the hunter.
It took a while for some other bears to come in. But a chunky gorilla bear came in. I drew back and almost took the shot. My wife would’ve been happy if we both shot bears and were done, but you can’t shoot a Carcus size bear if you shoot a rattling_junkie size bear, so I let down. Right at last light a nice 6 ½ footer with a grizzled face came in. When he came in he was grunting like a bull moose! I was tempted just because the story line would’ve been so good, and he had such a unique face (you will see him in the video, once it’s done).
It should be noted that the bears that came in followed the path that Noah’s bear took, and it sounded like they were snapping branches were I heard the crash. We gave ourselves hope that maybe they were trying to get the dead bear to move. Often times bears will intentionally snap branches as they come into the bait, especially if there is a bear already on it. So, we were holding our breath they were doing the same for Noah’s bear.
We got down and packed up, the grizzled face bear was still on the bait, and took off soon as I started to walk towards him. We drove back to camp, and found some cell reception to download Woody Sanford’s bear picture, where it shows you the vitals. He watched the shot over and compared it to the picture. The best that I could give Noah was that it was a liver shot. I reassured him there was a chance, but to be prepared that we might not find it. As a guide I’ve been on some blood trails where guys were certain we would find the bear to only be disappointed. I told him that I would do my best, and search all day for it.
We arrived at the bait early the next morning, and there was a bear on the bait. We couldn’t find his arrow, but knew it was a complete pass through. We thought that it might have hit the barrel and deflected off into the bush. We followed the line that the bear took. I only found one spot of blood. It had also rained lightly the night before. The rain and the far back shot I knew we wouldn’t have much blood to go on. It was a body search at this point. My plan was to go in the direction of where I heard it allegedly crash.
We had gone less than 200 yards and I smelt a dead bear, and then I saw it. I told Noah excitedly with emotion rushing through my veins that I smelt a bear. I quickly turned the video on using my phone to capture the first time he saw his reward. It was a priceless moment. The bear had been dead for a long time. I think the crash I heard was him actually crashing, and I do believe bears were snapping branches to try and get a reaction from him. He was bigger than I thought, Noah excitedly ran to his bear.
Well I hope you enjoyed the story. I am running against time. I need to get to work now. I'll get a father/son picture tomorrow or when I get home. But I think we did the knife justice, and Noah wrote his story in the journal.
So Proud of both of you! I have chills just following along. I was coaching my softball team in sectionals when my son shot his first. I lived it through the phone. He was in the best hands with my friend Chris at Pine Acres. Way to go!
Congrats to Noah and to you rattling_junkie for being a great dad, spending time with your son doing something you love and passing it on! Loved the story, can't wait to see the video! Cherish those moments and keep making memories!
Let the chant begin! We know you have this on film.
Viiiiiid-eeeo... Viiiiiid-eeeo... Viiiiid-eeeo!
Honestly though, its great to see you teaching your boy the bear woods and ALL that goes into it. Bear hunting is special that way, especially diy. Theres a lot to it. You can tell that boy has been in a tree and around baits for awhile. Super cool to see him get that bear.
Thanks everyone for the kind words and congratulations. Yes, it's on video, but I was more concerned with getting us set up, hunting, skinning, and quartering than the video. So, there isn't a lot of footage, but enough to preserve the memory long after I'm gone.
Yes K114 started off slowly, but only because the first two hunters wanted something spectacular, just like Noah's bear!!!! We both passed on animals we could have killed quite easily, but that was not what we were after!
Once again Noah, congratulations, and best of luck in future hunts!
The wind direction was right on Mother's Day. I kissed my wife, called my mom and went to the bear stand. There were 3 bears on the bait when I got there. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bait was getting hammered.
I needed to set my stand and cut some shooting lanes. I had a visitor the whole time, you'll see that in the video. This was more than likely my last evening in the bear stand, as I go guiding for Stickflingers on Saturday for 2 weeks. I tried to convince Carcus to drive up, so that we could hunt together, but the wind wasn't good for his stand.
I saw about 10 different bears, but most small. When at around 8:50 pm a bear that I passed on with Noah came in, and then his chubby buddy. But the chubbster didn't want to come into the bait when old grizzle face was eating. I originally estimated old grizzle at 6'6 feet. But after reviewing the footage at home between hunts I figured 6'10 and maybe 19".
I told my wife about this bear, and she said shoot it. So, now back to when he came in yesterday evening. I decided to pass, then picked up my bow and aimed at him, then put the bow back on the hanger. I couldn't do it. I started to think, Donna (my wife) wanted me to shoot this bear. It was Mother's Day after all, and I was out here hunting! So, I whispered into the mic and said, "This is for you Donna," and let the arrow fly.
The shot was 20 yards, and an absolute perfect pass through. Old Grizzle tore out, and dropped 80-90 yards away. He let one louder breath, and the woods became quiet, except for the other 7 bears milling around. The chubbster decided to come in and eat. He is your stereotypical "gorilla" bear. I have wanted to to kinda shoot one for a while, but decided on the "bigger" one. I got down, and was actually shocked at how big he actually was. I said out loud for only myself to hear, "Man, that's a 7 footer." I positioned him for pictures, and decided to come back in the morning, as the bears were feeling the courage of darkness, and I needed better light for some pics.
I almost forgot. As I was skinning I had a small bear hanging around and trying to bluff me out. He was getting closer and closer. I guess he got behind me while I was skinning and made a bluff. That was rather interesting. So, after de-boning the first front shoulder I threw him a bone. Called him my pet bear after that. While he was chomping on Old Grizzle Face I could finish skinning.