Monday, April 7, 2008
Tooth and claw v/s stick and string.
The Beartooth Mountains rise behind me, creating a beautiful backdrop to this spring evening. The Wyoming rifle season for bear is in full swing so the bruins are becoming more nocturnal with each passing day, making for a more challenging hunt . Several bears have been working along this creek and I move slowly among the aspen and cottonwood thicket, scanning for any movement. The wind is in my face and seems steady. The afternoon shadows help to conceal my movements. While the whitetail doe feeding at the tree line reassures me that I pass, so far, undetected.
A blur of movement! From out in front of me, a cinnamon colored bear suddenly appears. The bear is at a lope and coming fast. I can’t say when the bow began its arc, or the arrow left the string. It all happened so fast. But I remember picking a spot, where the rapidly approaching front shoulder meets the neck. At five yards the bear and the Magnus tipped cedar arrow became one in a blur of feathers and fur. The bear let out a loud roar of pain and began spinning around biting at the arrow. Not being certain of the effectiveness of my shot at such close quarters, having taken a running facing shot, a shot I would never take but in self defense. The bear was still growling and biting at the arrow sticking from his neck, when I made the decision to try and end this encounter before it becomes even more dangerous. I reached around with my right hand and drew my backup pistol from its holster, took careful aim and fired . The bear expired a few seconds later. I cautiously approached the downed bear and pulled the cedar shaft from his cinnamon coat. After saying my prayers to the bear and the creator for a truly exciting hunt, I tagged the bear and prepared to pack him out ..
My wife, Stacey helped to skin the bear the next morning and I was surprised to find the arrow had in fact killed the bear. The pistol shot had missed at five …yes five yards! I am thankful that it wasn’t a charging grizzly bear. The outcome would have been very different I am certain. I promise myself to practice a lot more with the pistol before going a field again...I will never know if the bear was charging at me, or if he was simply running in my direction. Whatever his motivation, I am truly honored to have met him in those final moments of his life. And, on future hunts ,I will wear the claws of this cinnamon warrior around my neck. In honor of his meeting, on that spring evening, when cinnamon met cedar. When my heart beat faster as his slowed for the last time ……Hawk a/ho