Living in Southeastern Ohio, I’ve spent years hunting whitetail deer, but I never had the opportunity to go bear hunting—until the fall of 2013.
In July of 2013, I walked into the office of my good friend and hunting partner, Ed Hatcher, of near-by Wheeling, West Virginia. He told me he needed someone to go with him to Canada bear hunting the first week of September—barely more than a month away.
After talking with my family and having them tell me I’d be crazy not to go, I called Ed and told him I’d go with him. It took me a month to get my passport and everything else I needed to go, and I spent several hours shooting my crossbow from the roof of my garage. I felt I’d done as much as I could to ready myself for the adventure of a lifetime.
At 5 a.m. on Sunday, Sept.1, we left Wheeling, and I was on my way to my first bear hunting trip. Eleven hours later, we arrived in Port Loring, Ontario, where we met up with outfitter Tom Beck. Much of the next day was spent hanging our stands and baiting.
Tuesday morning we baited again until about noon, came back to the cabin, ate a quick lunch, took a scent-free shower, packed a few things on the 4-wheelers and we were off. I was beside myself with anticipation … I was going out to hunt Canadian black bears for the very first time!
It was a windy evening, with Ed in a treestand beside me with his video camera. And it was just my luck—no bear to be seen. It became a ritual every day: get up early, eat, bait, come back, eat lunch, shower and then we’d be off again for the hunt.
On Wednesday, September 4, Ed decided he’d go to another stand about a mile down the road from where I was (I was at the same place we were the day before). Nearly 3 hours passed before something caught my eye. It was a bear walking down the same path I walked in on …
It was about 20 minutes before the big brute gave me a good quartering-away shot. My rangefinder had him pegged at 12.5 yards. Slowly pulling the crossbow up, I put the 15 yard pin just behind his right shoulder and pulled the trigger.
I’d just hit my first bear!
After waiting about 15 minutes, I climbed from my stand and found blood. Ninety minutes later, I met up with Ed and Tom, and we went back to where the blood was. Following the blood trail, we found my bear only 40 yards away.
Once we got my bear back to camp, Tom hooked him up to the scales—a whopping 360 pounds! Three days later we made our way back to the Ohio Valley, and after 6 days of making calls and talking with fellow hunters, we took my bear to taxidermist, Dan Jennings of Zanesville, Ohio. Nine months later I received a call from Dan telling me my bear was finished, and what an awesome job he did!
I’d like to thank God for granting me the opportunity for an amazing experience. Also, I want to thank Tom Beck of Parolin’s Cottages, taxidermist Dan Jennings and especially Ed Hatcher for offering me the experience of a lifetime.