We sat quietly watching the raccoon feed at the bait, when suddenly he jerked to attention and focused on the trail that disappeared into the thick undergrowth. I whispered, "Get ready, your bear alarm has just gone off".
This scene took place in September of 1999, as my daughter Amanda, good friend Chuck Brien and I were bowhunting for bears with Louie's Outpost in Blind River, Ontario. As a father I have made an effort to pass on the heritage of hunting and enjoying God's creation. I have never pushed any of my children into this wonderful sport of bowhunting, but gave them the opportunity and support when they asked about participating.
Both of my boys had hunted black bears at Louie's, but Amanda, whom we called "Panda" for 16 years, had always stated that she was not going to hunt anything with a bow that could eat her! Therefore, I was surprised while Christmas Shopping in 1998 when she asked if we could put two treestands in the same tree. Puzzled, I said, "We could, but I don't understand why we would want to, as you normally hunt whitetails in a stand alone and enjoy it."
She explained that she had decided to give bear hunting a try, but wanted Dad by her side for security. We began to plan for a spring hunt, but were among the many disappointed by the closure of Ontario's spring bear season due to pressure from our enemy the Anti's.
Amanda Practiced shooting all summer consistently wearing out the kill zone on our McKenzie bear target.
The final day came when we left Wisconsin to meet Chuck in Michigan. The eight-hour trip passed quickly as we talked about hunting and what she could expect on this trip. At Chuck's, we repacked and headed north. Amanda slept while Chuck and I reminisced past hunts to Canada.
Louie and his wife Nancy greeted us and they lead us to our cabin for a night's sleep. The next morning found us on the way to set up our stands.
Amanda and I doubled up on our ATV and followed Louie for the next 20 minutes. We parked the ATV's and hiked 250 yards to the bait already prepped by Louie. We positioned our stands side by side some 20 feet about the barrel of bait. After setting up the stands, we returned to camp and readied for the afternoon hunt.
About 2:30 we left camp for our stands. Upon settling in I told Amanda not to expect anything to happen tonight, as we had disturbed the area putting up our stands earlier in the day. But at 5:30 the above mentioned raccoon wandered into the bait site and fed on the grain mixture for a few minutes and then ambled off. Amanda whispered that the masked bandit, "was cute".
Two more hours passed with nothing but birds moving around our stand site. Then just as quickly as he had left the "bear alarm" returned setting the stage for an exciting evening.
Two Days later Chuck's muzzleloader would brake the silence and he had the makings of a bear rug.
In the days that followed I would see two bears at the bait but wanted a larger one so they ate and left the bait unmolested. On the last night of our hunt, Chuck wanted to go with me to video tape as I had promised to shoot any legal bear that night because it was our last night. Just before dark we heard a twig snap and readied for an opportunity. Soon a 200 pound bear was standing broadside at the same bait barrel that Amanda and I watched that first night, and I sent an arrow through the "boiler room" while Chuck caught it on tape.
But I digress! Back to Panda's hunt.
As the raccoon scurried into the dense foliage I had Amanda stand at the ready. I saw a black paw emerge from under a low hanging pine bough and whispered, "There he is"! The bear walked out into the clear and Amanda turned to me and whispered, "it's little"! "It's up to you", was my quiet reply as she watched the bear walk around the bait constantly checking the air with his nose.
Five minutes passed, and Amanda turned her head and said, "I am going to take him." I watched with the same excitement as I experienced when I took my first big game animal with a bow. As she drew, I whispered, "Pick your spot", and watched her lower bow limb to see if it was shaking anywhere near as much as my heart was pounding. To my surprise it was steady as could be. As her arrow connected with its intended target, I knew that my daughter had just accomplished what many bowhunters only dream of. She could now say that a black bear was hers. We recovered her bear the next morning and took enough pictures to make a motion picture, so someone said. Amanda made the call home to inform Mom and her brothers of her feat.
As a father, who has spent all of my life in the wonderful outdoors, I could not have been more proud, but it was nice that Chuck and I could live up to her accomplishment. With the added bonus that both Amanda's and my bear were both standing in exactly the same spot when they met their demise.
Now we were three for three and very happy that the good Lord had blessed our fellowship as well as our efforts in hunting. Amanda's bear weighted about 175 pounds while Chuck's and mine looked like twins. Oh, by the way, "Panda" has given way to "Bear Killer".
If you want an exciting hunting opportunity call Louie and Nancy Horwath of Louie's Outpost at 705-356-1887, and you won't be disappointed.