Archery Bear Hunting with Team OI
As an International hunter with traveling the planet as a job, I have been blessed to be able to hunt interesting critters all over world. Recently Outdoors International (OI) held their first annual staff hunt and this year it was for black bear; to be honest I had never hunted bear but always wanted to. I have dreamt of a bear rug since I was a kid, a roaring fire in a cabin setting and the traditional bear rug in front; perfect. Who knew that all these years later I would be standing at the taxidermist office putting down a deposit for just that, a giant bear rug!
Our bow hunt started with our trusted and tested Idaho outfitter, Kris and a desire to hold a team building event for the OI staff. Anyone who has been part of a well planned and executed team building event can attest to it truly bringing the team together and leaving a positive energy that leads to more productivity and in our case; selling more hunts.
Five days in the woods with archers in bear camp who share the same dream as you but may have never met, a brother from another mother; how cool is that?
Since we had both mules and a pack goat string, we enjoyed wall tents, gourmet camp food, cots and a nice camp fire. All was well prepared and planned, everyone all saw bears but I was the only one to connect with a bear big enough to make a stalk on. Even though our hunt was to be primarily on bait, we got to spot and stalk with stick and string!
OI teammate Russ Meyer and I ate dinner, then walked up the hill a ways and made our way to bait but the wind was swirling so we had to hang back from the bait site for about an hour. In that time of glassing we spotted a giant color phased bruin walking down the mountain at about 240 yards, with a rifle we would have tagged out already; but that’s too easy and when has my life been easy?
The boar was very cautious and left then came back again and although we could not see our bait we knew he was probably there after waiting another 20 minutes. The wind died down and was now traveling downhill so we dropped our gear, boots and went stalking native American style.
Our plan was for Russ to range him and me to shoot once we crept over the crest and were able to see the bait. So we snuck up and peeked over and sure enough there he was eating but facing us for nearly 10 minutes with us frozen at 40 yards until he finally turned broadside.
We could not creep any closer, so we decided to wait, he turned and I brought my Hoyt to full draw and waited and waited and waited more…. until my eyes blurred and I was getting shaky. He was almost perfect but had his front left leg still to the rear covering his vitals. I began to panic with buck fever and had to look away at the nearest tree. My heart was thumping hard and I had to focus on the color of the needles, lol.
The bear knew something was up, the wind stopped, the forest was quiet and he was about to run. Finally he brought his leg forward and I made a decision to aim slightly back behind the shoulder more because it was hard to judge in dusk light and blurry vision where the massive shoulder ended, just as he move to the left I let arrow fly!
The bear roared and ran off but only 20 yards. He was hurt but not running, as it grew very dark we sat and listened to him pant and move up the hill in slow motion while we nervously smoked victory cigarettes (It’s bad for my health I know but it was taught to me from old hunters and that’s what I do to calm nerves and wait for the animal to expire; usually two smokes.)
Since the bear had not expired yet and it was very dark, we had to wait and come back in the morning. No sane hunter tracks a wounded bear in the dark!
Before we came back to camp, we snuck down and retrieved the SD card from the trail camera at the bait, and to our amazement we captured an image of the arrow exiting the bear! All night at camp we went over the event and I kicked myself for a poor shot. We made a plan for an early morning and went to bed.
The next morning, Cory, Russ and I made our way back to the spot and guess who came running out of the area? A coyote! Bad sign…
We found the arrow, very bloody, good strong blood trail and as we followed it up the hill we saw him under a dead fall only 100 yards from the bait, dead with a giant hole in his side where the coyote ate dinner. We rejoiced and were bummed at the same time. The wound was eaten but the hide would be saved and the meat was intact. The shot was a little back since I made the decision to shift right a little and he went left at the same time; bad combo.
After much skinning and butchering we and the bear taxidermist guessed his weight at over 300 pounds and about 6’6” long with a probable age of 10-12 years old. Gotta love the rut because that kind of bear would not normally be in that area. His skull measured 19. 1/8th” and made Pope and Young.
The hide was beautiful, the meat delicious; one and done? Heck no; I can’t wait to hunt with the OI team again hopefully I’ll get a pretty black one but I think we are chasing Mule deer next year. Thanks to Russ and Cory for all the wisdom and pack help. I’d like to also thank the guys over at The Honey Badger Wheel for sending us a prototype to test. It made the packout easy!
If you’re interested in booking a bear hunt of your own with our outfitter, just call or write.