Sitka Gear
A Missouri Bear Story
Bears
Contributors to this thread:
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
TGbow 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
hdaman 26-Oct-22
swp 26-Oct-22
Ben 26-Oct-22
JohnMC 26-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 26-Oct-22
Bearman 26-Oct-22
DWU 26-Oct-22
tm 26-Oct-22
DWU 26-Oct-22
Mo/Ark 26-Oct-22
Kodiak 26-Oct-22
Schmitty78 26-Oct-22
Rgiesey 26-Oct-22
Jim McNamara 27-Oct-22
tacklebox 27-Oct-22
Rocky D 27-Oct-22
Bou'bound 27-Oct-22
Old School 27-Oct-22
swp 27-Oct-22
Shug 27-Oct-22
Jebediah 27-Oct-22
Screwball 27-Oct-22
rattling_junkie 27-Oct-22
Will 27-Oct-22
mattandersen 27-Oct-22
bohuntr 27-Oct-22
Supernaut 27-Oct-22
fastflight 27-Oct-22
DroptineDC18 27-Oct-22
goelk 27-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 27-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 27-Oct-22
drycreek 27-Oct-22
Fuzz 27-Oct-22
gflight 27-Oct-22
deerhunter72 27-Oct-22
TGbow 27-Oct-22
drmike 27-Oct-22
Foxwillkill 27-Oct-22
Wv hillbilly 27-Oct-22
APauls 27-Oct-22
hawkeye in PA 27-Oct-22
molsonarcher 27-Oct-22
Seahorse 27-Oct-22
swp 27-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 27-Oct-22
NDN 27-Oct-22
[email protected] 27-Oct-22
t-roy 28-Oct-22
swp 28-Oct-22
tobywon 28-Oct-22
kelsiewikoff 28-Oct-22
tobywon 28-Oct-22
Scoot 28-Oct-22
Oryx35 29-Oct-22
fuzzy 29-Oct-22
BoggsBowhunts 01-Nov-22
GLP 02-Nov-22
drycreek 02-Nov-22
Matt 02-Nov-22
26-Oct-22
October 17th, 2022 I found myself driving through the frigid Ozark hills with a Missouri black bear tag in my pocket. If you would’ve told me that sentence a mere 3 years ago, I would’ve laughed at you. Last year, in 2021, Missouri held the first black bear season, with 12 black bears killed out of a 40 bear quota, with 400 tag holders.

I only faintly remember hearing about this inaugural black bear season, since I was in Washington D.C. in the Marine Corps last October, far away from the black bear hills of the Ozarks. In May, when I made it back from D.C. and got settled back into Missouri, I got on the MDC website to apply for the elk draw. Below the “Elk Application” option, the few pictures of Missouri black bears flooded back to my memory as I noticed the “Black Bear Application” option.

I knew the odds of drawing were long, and once drawn the odds of success were even longer, but the cheap application fee was too tempting, and within seconds my fall hunting plans were in the hands of the Missouri Department of Conservation. Throughout the summer I got back in to the rhythm of farm work, was getting my college situation straightened out for the fall, and was fixing up and moving into a house; the application I had sent back in May was far from the front of my mind whenever I got an email that Elk and Black Bear draw results were posted.

I had so little faith in my name being pulled out of the hat that I didn’t even open the email for three days. I finally had way too much time on my hands and decided that checking the draw results would be a good way to kill it. The sight of “2022 - Bear - BMZ1 - SUCCESSFUL” made me refresh the page. I saw an article that stated 59,000 people applied for 400 permits, there was no way that I was one of 400. It finally set in and I realized that I had never hunted south of Walnut Grove, Missouri in my life, let alone hunted in what I would call “Missouri Bear Country”, and I knew zero people who had any farms in BMZ 1. I immediately let my dad know I had a tag in my pocket and the word was spread as we searched for landowners who might have some bears on their property. A few calls and texts later and I had a lead. I quickly made a visit and planted a trail camera. Over the course of early August - October 17th I had 3 bears on this camera, with the bears only visiting the area for 2 days at a time before moving on to never be seen again. In early September, a family friend reached out and said that he worked with someone who also had land in BMZ1 and had pictures of bears in the past. A few phone calls later and a visit was made and a trail camera was also planted on their farm in September, but despite the neighbors having tremendous bear damage to their fruit trees throughout the summer, I got zero bears at all on this camera through the start of season. So that was my territory. 2 different farms, and 3 different bears over the course of 2.5 months. Nevertheless, to me, a Southwest Missourian myself who had never seen a bear in the Ozarks, I was just stoked to have a picture of a bear at all and a tag in my pocket, and I was 100% certain I would run an arrow through one come October 17th. After all, I was putting out scent to lure bears, which led me to envision bears fighting each other to be the first to come in and see what was giving off such a pungent smell.

October 17th I was southbound with a sleeping bag and 10 days of food under the camper shell of my pickup, determined to get every minute out of my rare opportunity at a Missouri Bear Season. I stepped out of the truck to a brisk 20 degree morning, the first cold snap of the fall and inconveniently for me it fell on the first morning of the season. My 100% certainty of a filled tag slowly dropped as the first freeze of the year had me shivering in my thick Filson wool, and had acorns falling like hail, bouncing off the top of my ground blind and leaving a thick layer of forage on top of last year’s leaves.

The morale and expectations for this hunt plummeted throughout the first day. The bitter cold made it nearly impossible to even keep myself entertained in the blind, as I shakily tried turning the pages of my book in wool gloves. It was, by all accounts, miserable. 13 hours of daylight had me in the blind from 6am-7pm, and the first freezing temperatures of the year, although I was prepared for them, were a variable I wasn’t expecting when planning this hunt back in August. The truth of it is, stationary hunters fall into 2 categories; those who admit that at times, hunting is incredibly boring and miserable, and those who lie about their boredom and misery, I was proudly a part of the first category that opening day.

I got back to the truck and learned that 2 bears were killed, one with a bow and one estimated 20 year old sow with a rifle. I had also learned that all the hunters in MO who had previously had regular bear activity were now experiencing a drastic change in patterns. Bears who had previously been covering ground foraging in their hunting areas had completely shut down due to the stockpile of acorns that had just been dropped from the oaks due to the freeze. Since my hunting strategy almost solely relied on bears traveling for food and coming across the scent cone of Knock Out, I knew my chances of killing a bear had been drastically reduced. It went from an in-the-bag mission to a now-deflated dream and 10 days wasted away from school and work. Nevertheless, I knew that as rare as it was to have a Missouri Bear tag in my pocket, I had to persevere and at least honor all the unsuccessful applicants by trying my hardest and giving them 10 days of disciplined hunting, although deep down I knew my chances were abysmal at best. This rapid decline of my morale was supplemented by the 19 degree night in a sleeping bag in the back of my truck, not the first time I've had to sleep in a bag in below freezing temperatures, any probably not my last, although that is just never does get more comfortable with repetition.

The next day started the same as the first. Frigid temps kept my hands gloved and the peaceful pastime of reading was still a chore in itself. I was beginning to realize just how ridiculous it was to set in a blind for 130 hours over a 10 day span, hoping a bear, who was now ears-deep in a pile of freshly fallen acorns, would just so happen to abandon his now unlimited food source to run in front of some shaggy looking dude setting in a ground blind on one of the thousands of oak ridges in this county. This almost made my outlook of this hunt turn into a comedy, which somehow made this whole thing easier. I went back to the truck for lunch, realizing that if I was going to tough out 10 days straight of sitting in a ground blind, I was at least going to have to have me a hot lunch of bacon and eggs every afternoon to save what little sanity I could.

I had made it through my review of the majority of Genesis, and had sidetracked through my favorite books, the Timothy’s and Corinthians’, the day before, realizing an act of God would be the only thing that led the end of my arrow to the side of a bear in the conditions of this season, but reading was a fight in itself, as turning thin pages in wool gloves made the act of reading almost as frustrating as the act of bear hunting.

The second afternoon, however, the pages turned steadily without the resistance of the thick wool. The bite of the first cold snap had subsided, and as it left me so did the thick wool that had previously shielded me from its effects. The stress of the hunt was somehow entirely gone, I guess my motivation for having to have a filled tag left with the cold front. I had come to grips with the prospective outcome and had finally found peace knowing that although I likely wouldn’t kill a bear, I would still hunt them as hard as any respectful tag holder would. As this mental treaty with myself was signed, I glanced up and witnessed a scene straight out of the Jack Paluh paintings that I had admired for many years at conventions and banquets that would visit my small town.

The hillside on which I sat was ablaze with amber, pumpkin, and rust colored leaves. The bark of the white oaks and persimmons reflected both deep blacks and nearly shimmering grays. If it wasn't for the faint whiff of Knock Out bear scent hitting my nose I would have known for sure that I was as close to heaven as the world would allow. It finally set in that I was hunting in the Ozarks again. Other than the duck hunting I had prioritized during my 10 days of annual leave I would take every year at Christmas, I hadn’t pursued game in nearly 4 full seasons. I hadn’t experienced the complexity and beauty of the Ozarks color palette that we were blessed to have blanketing our landscape every autumn, and since my last few falls were spent staring at the government and corporate buildings in DC, this gorgeous painting of Real America that was living in front of me was even prettier. I sat my book down and decided the remaining 3 hours of daylight would be spent reflecting on what had got me here and the blessings I had right in front of me that I now knew I hadn’t fully appreciated in my previous years.

I was just getting engrossed in the beauty of the life we have been given when all of a sudden I heard a stick break behind me… The ground blind I was sitting in didn't have any windows or openings on the back wall, so I was completely in the dark as to what was lurking in the thicket to my south. I anxiously listened to decipher if the noise would turn into the inconsistent surges of crinkling leaves that the common squirrels tend to leave in their path, or the consistent and surefooted steps of a whitetail calmly and purposefully making its way down a ridge; this sound was distinctly neither of those.

Whatever this creature was, was so carefully making its way down this ridge and into my spread that every time it broke a stick it stopped, listened, and then carefully continued its way down the trail that dumped out 3 yards from my blind. I had to make a decision, and I had to make it quickly. It HAD to be a black bear, and it HAD to be mere seconds from popping up directly in the side window of my ground blind. I glanced at the pistol sitting beside me, and then glanced back at my bow. I knew with the pistol I would for sure get a shot off the second it broke the window, but with the bow the bear might "bust" me and head for the hills before I could even put pressure into the draw. I was in too deep to not finish the task with a bow, I clipped my release to the string and made ready for the most nerve-wracking shot of my life, a black bear at 3 yards.

The seconds felt like hours, as the creature slowly made its way further along the trail, now almost touching my blind and still making those indistinct footfalls, the likes of which I had never heard in the Ozark Mountains in all my years of hunting them. Just as I was sure this beast would never clear the window, there he was.

A gray squirrel.

In my years of absence I must have lost my ability to decipher their abnormal gait. This comedic episode solidified the fact that my tag was going to go unfilled if I continued to set in a blind every day; I might as well start simmering the stock for my heaping bowl of tag soup.

I had an important class at MSU on Thursday evening that I really couldn’t miss. I decided to head back and stay somewhat on top of my college courses, while using my breaks between classes to refresh my memory of the topography on the other property. The property down south was roughly 50 acres, but was surrounded by thousands of acres of public. Sitting over scent in a ground blind was a sure way to eat a tag, so I decided I would head down south and simply cover as much ground as possible. Hit every pond looking for tracks and walk as much of the surrounding river as I could to hopefully come across bear sign.

Before my last class of the day, just when I thought I had my plans solidified, I got a text from a taxidermist buddy of mine who had a client that lived in BMZ1, merely a few miles form the first farm, that was allegedly covered up with bears all summer long. Covered up by bears, of course in Missouri, means that he saw them a little more than I saw them on my camera.

I called him up and just asked him if he had any tips or info regarding fall bear patterns that he’s noticed on his farm. We both agreed that hunting in a stationary manner over scent wasn’t going to produce a bear, and my only hope was to cover as much ground as possible going from oak ridge to oak ridge and hope to find one with its face in acorns. This was assuring to hear, since that was my plan for the remainder of the season anyway. I thanked him for the info and we ended the conversation there, as I went back to OnX scouting and making mock-routes through the endless ridges that make up the Mark Twain National Forest. A few minutes later I get a phone call.

“Hey, Mr. Boggs, I have (X amount) of acres down there that you’re more than welcome to hunt if you want. I haven’t seen any bears in the past 4 weeks or so, but its got enough oak ridges to keep you busy.”

“Thank you so much, sir, I’ll be there for sure on Monday, and on Sunday afternoon if there isn’t any sign down south!”

I had committed to atleast making the trip down south to look at the initial property first, but I was thankful to have a solid backup plan, an “Ozarks Alamo” as I called it, to fall back on if there was no sign down south.

Friday morning I headed down south to cover as much ground as I could. The neighbors who had previously had a bear ruin nearly every fruit tree on their property hadn’t seen any sign of the bear in over a month and a half, and I covered 5 hours’ worth of hiking to water sources and along the creek that evening with absolutely zero sign of an Ozarks bruin. My 2 initial farms were total busts. It all came down to the Ozarks Alamo. I had told the landowner Sunday afternoon would be my arrival, and I didn’t want to come in early on him, so I returned to civilization and took Saturday night as a clothes-washing night and restocked ice in my coolers. Sunday morning I went to church, Kenetreks and all, again realizing that only God himself could guide me onto a bear, as I had about as much direction as a headless chicken.

Sunday afternoon I found myself pulling into one of the finest farms I’ve ever sat foot on in Missouri. I pulled up to the barn, where I would be staying for the rest of season, and was glad that I ran into a guy and his wife that hunt whitetails on the property as they were leaving for the day. Our conversation quickly shifted to bears, and my morale was lifted, atleast a little, when his wife said “Bear hunting?! We get more pictures of bears than deer!”

I had talked to the landowner on my drive down and he informed me of a trail that went and followed a ridge that would be a nice quick jaunt for my first outing of the trip. I sat out on the loop and was immediately lost in a crowd of wildlife. The weather had returned to it’s previous baseline of 60 degree highs and 40 degree lows, and with it the baseline of wildlife movement returned as well. Ahead of me off the trail whitetails flushed out of the creek bottoms beside me and squirrels bounced across the forest floor, now realizing they have more of an acorn crop than they could ever bury to make it through the winter. Active scrapes were found consistently along the logging road and trails, and buck rubs brought flashes of color and life to the endless depths of dark tree trunks that reached high above the hardwood ridges. Five or six miles later I found myself back at the truck just as the sun slipped beyond the Ozark’s horizon. I realized that I had actually enjoyed this whole adventure, and if a guy was to get skunked on a bear hunt, there wasn’t a more beautiful landscape in which I’d want to bag a harvest of tag soup.

After nightfall had drained the color from the fields and forests that surrounded my truck camp, I saw the headlights of the landowner dance up the gravel road to the barn. We quickly hit it off, both archery fanatics who loved the pursuit of game both in Missouri as well as the west, as he had drawn an elk tag he had been waiting 30 years for and already had a 380 bull in the freezer before the whitetail train had even gotten to the station in Missouri. We discussed bears and he pointed out where he had seen them in years past, as well as giving me an overview of the place and the road system that connected the ridges and food plots. The next day would be spent covering every foot of these trails, and bushwhacking across the ridges that bears had previously called home. We both laughed at the idea of a Missouri Bear Season, agreeing that a fella would have a better chance of killing bigfoot than he would have of spotting and stalking a black bear with a bow in Missouri right after the acorns had fallen. We parted ways and I got some reading done in the comfortable weather that had driven out the bitter cold of the previous week. My truck was extra cozy that night as I got all the sleep I could to rest up for what I knew would be a long day of walking.

The following day, Monday the 24th, I left the truck at 7:45. I waited until there was plenty of light to see in every nook and cranny of the Ozarks hills, as “bear country” started as soon as I stepped away from the truck with a bow in hand. I headed along the roads that the landowner had told me about and felt good. I knew I had to cover ground quickly, as rain was supposed to set in at noon and last for nearly the remainder of season; this morning would likely be my last chance to hunt whether I ran into an elusive Ozark’s bruin or not.

The new country and stories from the landowner had raised my morale tremendously from where they were previously, which was below the floor. I knew that this was my best shot at finally seeing an Ozarks bear in the flesh, and every ridge was dissected as carefully as possible while also moving quick enough to cover the whole farm before the noon rains set in.

The new country and method of hunting had me nearly floating across the property. This was far more interesting than staring at the same picture for 13 hours a day, regardless of how beautiful that picture was. I crossed paths with many deer, squirrels, and other Ozarks commonalities. I had been to many water sources and had yet to cross bear tracks, but this farm was littered with creek beds and ponds and little springs that would be impossible to find on OnX. I knew a bear wouldn’t need a large water source, and would likely try to find one away from all the hustle and bustle of the deer and other animals. I came across a pond that was coated with 30 or so wood ducks, the waterfowler in me found this incredibly interesting and I gave them a respectable viewing before trodding on and flushing them off the pond. I went off trail and zig zagged some very promising ridges, but still no bears to show for it. I linked back up with the trail and a flock of turkeys steadily making their way in the opposite direction. Something caught my eye, a light colored streak moving horizontally through the trees, when I realized there was a Smoke Phase Turkey in the flock! This immediately made the day’s hike worth it. I dropped an OnX pin and sent it to the landowner and he said he had seen the bird in the past, and we agreed it had to be the prettiest turkey in the world.

I was content with the day’s wildlife viewings and, with time narrowing down, I quickly made my way down the remaining roads on the property. This farm was one of those properties that just simply had it all. High fields, expansive oak ridges, wet weather creeks and ample water sources even in the driest of summers. I was like a kid in a candy shop, and each turn in the trail was a whole new world. What I haven’t yet included in this story are the countless stumps, rocks, and brush piles that locked me in my tracks like a pointer crossing the scent cone of a tucked away covey of quail. Each time I threw up the bino’s to discover that this bear I had just laid my eyes on was in fact not a bear. I am sure to have spent more time staring through swarovski’s at stumps in the Ozarks in a 5 hour period than any man in the country.

The deep creek bottoms and oak ridges were coming to an end. I did find a pile of bear scat as I started on the last ridge on the property on my way to the truck. The dried pile was, in my mind, the greatest taunt of the most sparse game I have ever pursued. A totem of the pursuit of the wisest game. The bear let me know that it was, in fact, possible to run into one in these hills, but wasn’t in the cards for me this year. The final ridge was productive, however, as I saw a brown flash flush from under a bramble no more than 30 yards in front of me. A coyote had somehow let me get a mere 30 yards of it before flushing, and as I watched it bounce out into the pasture the triangular shape of a perked ear caught my eye. Another one was in the bed and I knocked an arrow with it gazing out at its mate who had bounced unannounced from its mid-afternoon nap. As I put resistance on the string I felt the wind brush the back of my neck, and the coyote had caught a whiff of something that wasn’t supposed to be there as it too bounced off in a confused lope wondering what human had interrupted its slumber.

I got back to the truck as the sprinkle of rain steadied into a light shower. I made a post of bowsite informing them that although it was unproductive as far as bears go, I had a great morning walking in the woods in what, I knew to myself, would be the last time I walked Missouri ridges for bears in a long time. I had previously told myself that successful or not, I wouldn’t apply for this tag until they increased the odds of drawing. I had my opportunity at a bear and wasn’t able to seal the deal. It happens, and from shortly into day one was the outcome I had come to grips with. As I threw my pack in the truck and reflected on the 7.7 miles of country covered that morning, the rain lightened, then came to a stop. Knowing it was supposed to be the steadiest rain of the summer, I opened my weather app to find that the primary mass of rain had been pushed back to 5:00, and what had brought me back to the rain was just a scout cloud that brought with it no more than a light coating of leaves. I called my dad and let him know that although I was still sure my odds of finding a bear were about the same as arrowing a sasquatch, I was gonna walk one last ridge anyway.

I set off to reverse the path I had covered the night before, but instead of following the trail I would bushwhack and try to get every foot of “hunt” out of the ridge that I could. I zig zagged the creek beds and ridges that made up the western border of the property, once again admiring the beauty of the orange flashes of buck rubs and the chatter of squirrels and birds that I was surrounded with. Once again crossing paths with an array of game, everything but a bear, as white tails bounced up ridges in front of me and as wild turkeys steadily made their way out of my path. I knew I would soon link up with the logging road at the end of the ridge and with the end of the ridge, brought the end of my Missouri bear hunt. I gave the country one last glance as I stepped out into the pathway to the end. As I followed the logging road to the bottom of the ridge I reflected on my attempt. I was satisfied with the effort I put into this tag, and I felt like I had at least done the tag justice, despite it going unnotched. As the thought of Missouri Black Bears left my mind I glanced to the north.

50 yards away, through an armored wall of brambles and saplings, was a black mass clumped on the far side of a wet weather creek, at a transition of where the oak ridge turned into an old logging area littered with brush piles and 10 foot tall weeds. I knew, KNEW, that this couldn’t be a bear; none of the black objects I had laid eyes on yet were bears, and this surely couldn’t be any different... right? There was something different about it, though, and as I pulled up my binoculars I realized that what I was looking at was not another inanimate object littering the Ozarks floor. Through the saplings I made out ears, and then a muzzle, and then my breaths quickened as I realized what I had located after 10.1 miles of walking that morning.

A bear. I quickly reached for my windicator and the powder fell to the ground as vertically as it had left the bottle. I knew this was dangerous, as the wind in these hills can seem to blow from every direction in only a matter of minutes, and if the wind picked up in an unfortunate direction I would have to do something fast. The bear was only 45 yards away when I first laid eyes on him, but between us was enough brush to not have any chance of being able to get an arrow through. This is what I had been dreaming of seeing since I read “SUCCESSFUL” on MDC’s website, and a sheet of saplings and brambles was the only thing that laid between me and a notched tag. The previous rain had taken all the crinkle out of the previously bone-dry leaves, and the droplets falling from the trees provided just enough sound to cover my slow and thought-out footfalls as I made my way towards the wet weather creek that lay between me and the bear in hopes of finding a hole big enough to guide an arrow through. I knew that finding a hole to guide an arrow through the thick wall of Ozarks underbrush was slim to none. I reached down and unsnapped the locking strap on my Glock holster below my binocular harness and had an hour long conversation with myself that was compressed into about 3 seconds. My chances of getting an arrow through the underbrush to connect with a bear were incredibly slim, almost as slim as my chances of finding one in the first place; my chances of getting a 115 grain Hornady Critical Defense round from a 9mm through the brush, however, was very high. I knew I had come too far to disregard the goal of an archery killed bear now, and whatever happened in the next minute I would have to live with forever regardless of the outcome. I quietly closed the locking strap on my holster, which I knew was likely closing chances of putting a bear on the ground, and clipped my release onto my D-loop as I started easing through the brush towards the creek bottom.

45 yards turned into 35, and 35 yards turned into 25. Just as I got into the clearest lane available to me the bear rose to its front paws and assumed a sitting position while looking around to survey its surroundings. Just as it rose, I noticed a hole through the undergrowth, about 5” in diameter, that I believed would be in the perfect spot once the bear rises to get on all fours. Maybe God was paying attention when I was fighting to turn the pages of 2 Timothy on opening day after all. The bruin knew someone had entered its domain and rose to a standing position on all fours. I came to full draw as my pin found its way into the middle of the 5” hole through the saplings. As I peered through the sight housing at the big picture of the bear, I realized that somehow, through an armored wall of Ozarks undergrowth, the only hole big enough to fit an arrow through really had fallen perfectly in place to reveal an unobstructed window from my arrow to the bears vitals. I settled the pin over the lungs of the bear and saw my lighted nock thread through the window of saplings, disappearing behind the shoulder of what I knew had to be the only Ursus in the state of Missouri.

I couldn’t believe it. A pursuit lasting from July to the middle of October had come down to a mere 45 second window of time in which I had finally located one of these bears I had previously only seen on trail camera and the MDC website. My heart sank, however, when the bear spun and entered the thick wall of weeds and brush piles that littered the logged ridge.

I slowly followed the bear’s path, this time with the holster not only unsnapped, but my Glock firmly in my hand as I waded through the tall weeds and through the maze of deadfalls. This produced no results, and I called my dad and the landowner to let them know I had run an arrow through one as I backtracked and located my arrow. I found the arrow covered with a film of red blood. I slowly followed the trail, the blood was just watery enough from the drizzle that had just picked up that it eliminated the chances of examining the blood for bubbles. Droplets of red soon turned to pools of bright red blood. I was confident my arrow found its mark, but the drizzle had taken a lot of crucial evidence from the blood and I started second guessing whether I hit the bear too low or not, as I’ve heard it’s easy to brisket shoot bears due to their thick coat of fur. This thought was further assisted by the sudden end of blood. I had heard what I believed to be a crash, but then was thinking it could just as easily have been the bear seeking refuge in a brush pile where it would eventually heal up or in the worst case scenario, perish and not be able to be found due to the lack of blood. I backtracked to the last pool of blood and started following the wide trails cut through the thin, tall weeds. It was now apparent to me that this bear had been doing exactly what I had hoped the bears wouldn’t do as I sat in my blind on the first day of season. This logged hillside was covered in bear trails and bear scat. I picked a trail and hoped it would end at a bear. 60 yards past the pool of blood I glanced up the hill and saw a familiar looking mass of black.

I approached the bear while giving some punctual “Hey Bear’s” and realized that it was over. I had done what just 20 minutes ago I would have called the impossible. Phone calls to my dad, our taxidermist buddy who set me up with the landowner, and the landowner himself were made and they were projected to be there at the same time, as well as the County Conservation Agent who wanted to see what was only the 20th bear every harvested in the modern Missouri season, and only the 8th in 2022. I set up a tripod and took some pictures before they got there in fear of rain setting in and showering the beautiful, thick coat that the bear sported. I struggled to roll the bear over, and realized that it must be a good one. Not ever seeing a bear in Missouri before, and only very few in other states, I was no judge of size, and although I knew this bear looked respectable, had no idea how it compared to other harvested Missouri bears, and really didn’t care. I was just thrilled to have found a bear and sent an arrow.

The posse arrived and I led the way to my bear. The conservation agent looked at the bear and immediately said “Holy smokes…. Would you mind if I got the bear biologist out here to get a live weight on this thing?” At this point I realized that it might be a good bear after all, but it added the complication of having to get the bear off of this hillside without gutting it or skinning and quartering it “in the field” as we had previously planned on. The landowner began working on getting a path cut to the bear and we began searching for a pole to hopefully tie the bear to in order to carry it out while the agent relayed information about the bear to the biologist. We went to get rope and the landowner said “Rope? I got one better, I have a four wheeler coming”

The neighbor arrived and followed the path to the bear, and four of us lifted the bear onto the back of the four wheeler. As the biologist set up the scales back at the barn we began to get info on the bear from the tags and info the conservation had on hand. The bear was a 7.5 year old sow, who had previously had atleast one litter of cubs. The official weight of the bear was 301 pounds, the biggest bear killed by a hunter in Missouri that the agents or biologist had seen taken in the two Missouri seasons. Surreal to think that the last man who spot and stalked a bear through the Ozark hills with a bow was probably a Native American, long before my first ancestor came to the state 6 generation ago.

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
This is what the bear was through when I first spotted it. The undergrowth in Missouri makes finding a shooting lane from the ground a unique challenge

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
This is a better view of further down the trail, from this point I would make entry and start closing the gap between me and the bear, undergrowth in the Ozarks is not an archer’s friend…

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
Still in absolute disbelief that this all unfolded

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
This is as it was weighed in a net. The weight of the net and chain netted the total weight of the bear at 301. Not quite sure how that stacks up against bears that you northerners run into, but for Missouri I am absolutely thrilled

From: TGbow
26-Oct-22
What a story! Awsome job. That is cool to think that it's been that long since bears were hunted in that state..makes me also think about native Americans hunting black

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
My buck 110 couldn’t reach the back strap on the first cut, had to peel off about 3-4” of solid fat to get to the meat. Have three big bags of fat in the freezer waiting to be rendered into lard.

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
You can kindve see the glossy consistency of the blood I was following, just wet enough and I was just rusty enough at real life blood trails to have creeping doubts

26-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
BoggsBowhunts's embedded Photo
Full morning of chasing the Sheep of the South! Didn’t take many pictures throughout this hunt, but hopefully the story paints it’s own! Thanks for reading, guys!

From: hdaman
26-Oct-22
Fantastic write up! Congrats on your bear and thanks for sharing!

From: swp
26-Oct-22
Nice story Chase! Congrats again, when you said you had a tag I figured that you would have an adventure but chances for it ending with a bear were slim. Glad I was wrong on the bear part. Add a couple of pictures

From: Ben
26-Oct-22
Great story! We have a place at Table Rock and have seen bear sign for several years. Even had claw marks on our wooden stairs but, have not saw one. Congrats on a super hunt!

From: JohnMC
26-Oct-22
Great story. Congrats again.

26-Oct-22
I wish I would’ve taken more, swp. This is about all the pictures I had! I was either setting in a blind or going 100 mph tryna cover ground and never thought this write up would exist so didn’t prioritize pictures, haha

From: Bearman
26-Oct-22
Boggs, that was SUCH a great recap of the whole experience. Very happy/proud of you. You concured a great feat.

Congrats!

From: DWU
26-Oct-22
Very well done, congratulations! It’s never over till it’s over.

From: tm
26-Oct-22
Great story, congrats.

From: DWU
26-Oct-22
Very well done, congratulations! It’s never over till it’s over.

From: Mo/Ark
26-Oct-22
Outstanding! Well done, and well told! Congrats!

From: Kodiak
26-Oct-22
Wow, one of the best write-ups I've seen on this site. Congrats, what a thrill it must have been.

From: Schmitty78
26-Oct-22
Awesome recap Chase!! Congrats on one heck of a Missouri bear! Hopefully I can take on the adventure of chasing a Missouri black bear one of these years!

From: Rgiesey
26-Oct-22
Great job and story!

From: Jim McNamara
27-Oct-22
This write up was a pleasure to read. Very descriptive and colorful. I have been reading Pete Buist's book "Me Caribou is on Fire " every evening before bed but tonight it's your hunt recap and it's just as good a read. Well done on your bear too. Way to persevere . Followed your post looking for info and the beginning of the hunt and the culmination of your efforts . Congratulations!! Enjoy the fruits of your labor now. Jim

From: tacklebox
27-Oct-22
Well done! Congrats

27-Oct-22
A Hard earned animal for sure. Nice bear , north or south. Congrats

From: Rocky D
27-Oct-22
Absolutely fantastic from beginning to end! I have followed all a long and really liked the fact that you always seemed optimistic even though confronting dismal odds for sir success!

Your focus was on the unique opportunity that the very rare Arkansas bear tag!

Congratulations on a major accomplishment and a great Arkansas black bear!

From: Bou'bound
27-Oct-22
Great job. That fat is unreal.

From: Old School
27-Oct-22
Sounds like quite the adventure. Way to persevere to the end and make the shot count. Thanks for the recap

From: swp
27-Oct-22
You must have been adding them as I was typing....Happy with the outcome and glad you had the experience. Looks like bear grease pie crust will be on the menu at the Boggs household this winter. When do we eat????

From: Shug
27-Oct-22
Congratulations… well earned bear

From: Jebediah
27-Oct-22
One of the best stories I’ve ever read—thanks and congrats!

From: Screwball
27-Oct-22
Great write up and Congratulations! What an adventure, I remember my first bear and every bear since like it was yesterday and every detail!

27-Oct-22
Amazing accomplishment, congratulations!

From: Will
27-Oct-22
That's awesome - congratulations! Astonishing to see how thick the fat layers are!

From: mattandersen
27-Oct-22
Amazing man congrats!!! Great story!

From: bohuntr
27-Oct-22
Great write up up and great bear! Congratulations!

From: Supernaut
27-Oct-22
WOW!!!

Congratulations on an amazing achievement and a beautiful bear!

This is likely one of the best hunting stories I've read here or anywhere else for that matter. Amazing job all the way around!

Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

From: fastflight
27-Oct-22
Amazing write up. You are a very skilled writer. Made me feel like I was along for the hunt. Congrats.

From: DroptineDC18
27-Oct-22
What a hunt and what an amazing recall of it. Congrats doesn’t seem like enough. Well done.

From: goelk
27-Oct-22
Great Story Congrats!

27-Oct-22
swp, as soon as I find a gal that'll bake a pie with bear lard crust you're invited, haha! I'd have better luck arrowing another bear I think!

Thanks a ton for reading, guys! Glad you are enjoying it!

27-Oct-22

BoggsBowhunts's Link
Hopefully this link works, the MDC released their report on the 2022 bear season, apparently there were 3 bears taken with a bow according to their telecheck system, making mine the 3rd archery bear. Good look for archery hunting in Missouri, since 0 of 12 last year were taken with a bow, 3 of 8 is a giant improvement

From: drycreek
27-Oct-22
Your story had me literally sitting on the edge of my seat ! IMO you have a great future as an outdoor writer should you choose to. I was about halfway through the story when the phone rang and I found myself wanting to end the phone call so that I could finish reading. :-)

Congrats on a great bear using spot and stalk tactics, it’s one to be very proud of. When you could have given up, you pressed on…..very admirable !

From: Fuzz
27-Oct-22
What a great hunt and story! Thank you for taking us along in your journey! Congratulations on making memories you'll never forget !

From: gflight
27-Oct-22
Congrats, Amazing write up.

You need to see how to publish in Missouri Conservationist.

From: deerhunter72
27-Oct-22
Congratulations again! Great job

From: TGbow
27-Oct-22
Yep, great story.

From: drmike
27-Oct-22
Congrats on a great bear and a great write-up. Anyone that references Jack Paluh paintings is OK by me!

From: Foxwillkill
27-Oct-22
Great read! Thanks and congratulations.

27-Oct-22
Excellent write up! Thanks for sharing. Congratulations again

From: APauls
27-Oct-22
Your writing is a skill to behold. Congrats on the hunt! You put it all out there. Awesome.

27-Oct-22
Congratulations and great story.

From: molsonarcher
27-Oct-22
Fantastic write up. [email protected] fort has some serious competition now! Heck of a job on a fantastic animal, and thank you for taking us along.

From: Seahorse
27-Oct-22
Outstanding story. Few professionals have written so eloquently. Congratulations on the success of your hunt, and your recounting.

From: swp
27-Oct-22
21.25% harvest rate for BMZ 1 over two seasons, That's not bad. 3.75% for the rest of the state over 2 years, not so much. Hey if I find a woman that can make a bear grease pie crust I'll bring her up and she can make us a pie. My chances of drawing a bear tag are probably better than with that happening.... At least you are in a target rich environment at MSU. LOL!

27-Oct-22
swp, Last year BMZ1 had a 4.5% success rate with 9 bears out of 200 tags, this year was 4% success rate with 8 bears out of 200 tags.

The percentages you see might be the percentage of the quota filled? Which were 9/20 and 8/20, but 9/40 and 8/40 if you factor in statewide total quota numbers, which would result in your 21.75%

From: NDN
27-Oct-22
Well done sir, enjoyed the read!

27-Oct-22
in the dry leaves, it is amazing how a small critter can sound like a large animal like a bear. Good thing there are no dinosaurs around. Nice story. Paul

From: t-roy
28-Oct-22
Excellent story! Congrats again, Boggs!

From: swp
28-Oct-22
Math never was my strong point.....For some reason I confused the bear total kills with there being a total of 40 tags total given out.

From: tobywon
28-Oct-22
Awesome accomplishment Boggs!!! Probably one of the hardest hunts, a spot and stalk black bear in thick country. Great writeup and thanks for sharing. Congrats!!

From: kelsiewikoff
28-Oct-22

kelsiewikoff's embedded Photo
kelsiewikoff's embedded Photo
Congratulations and well deserved! The start of your hunt sounds familiar to the start of my hunt during the 2021 Missouri bear season. I sat for four full days straight in a tree stand with my lunch packed and finally had one come in view on the evening of day 4, I was the 9th person to notch my tag the first season. My bear activity on camera definitely lessened as the cold weather set in during the 2021 season. The key to hunting is to not lose motivation and to be patient as you never know what will cross your path. You did just that and earned your notch! I've attached my bear picture and I agree that the landscape is not in the archer's favor...I can't imagine trying to hunt MO bears with a bow. When I shot my bear (with a 7mm), it took off running. Then I went to look for a blood trail and there were just a few dribbles of blood and chunks of fat. My heart sunk thinking I made a bad shot. I was able to find him 40 yards away in some very thick timber down a ridge next to a pond, with trails and bear scat everywhere...very similar to your story! I enjoyed reading your story because it brought back so many memories, especially the fat content on those bears...WOW! Haha. Enjoy the bear meat. My household loves the roasts we got from it. We actually had one last night, but we are near the end of the meat. Congratulations, again!

From: tobywon
28-Oct-22
Congrats on a fine bear Kelsie!!

From: Scoot
28-Oct-22
Congrats on the Mizzou bears, folks! Boggs, your story is really well done! You write really well and although it's a heck of a lot of words for a forum like this, I enjoyed every one of them! I usually sign off after about three or four paragraphs of a story like yours, but you write so well I got locked into your tale. Many congrats and a job well done!

From: Oryx35
29-Oct-22
Fantastic story! Thanks for sharing!

From: fuzzy
29-Oct-22
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. You are an excellent writer.

01-Nov-22
Thanks again everyone for the support! Sorry that the writing is a bit long-winded for a single forum post, I got carried away between classes and ended up on page 9 before I knew it.... Nice to see another MO bear posted on here too! Guess I was the second bowsiter to draw the tag, haha

From: GLP
02-Nov-22
Fantastic!!! And congratulations to both Kelsie and Boggs!!!!

From: drycreek
02-Nov-22
Congrats Kelsie, your bear ain’t no slouch !

From: Matt
02-Nov-22
Congrats

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