Wednesday, May 14, 2008

ETHICS and ARROWS

The smell of decaying leaves and other forest smells fill my senses, I am close to the ground in a half crouch moving one careful step at a time through an ice cold stream. Every step in the ice cold water brings me closer to the black bear standing along the southern bank of the stream feeding on an elk winterkill carcass. For the lash hour I have been stalking this bear, the wind is steady from the southwest and keeping my scent from the bears keen nose. My only option for a stalk is down this small creek, although the cold water has turned my feet into what feels like ice balls wearing shoes I am undeterred. Carefully I approach the coal black bruin and prepare for the shot. Two more steps will bring me within ten yards of the bear and offer me a perfect quartering away shot. The bear is busy tearing flesh from the elk and has no idea that death is standing so near, I begin to draw my bow and pick a spot where I want the arrow to enter into the body of the bear. Just before I release the arrow she softly calls, a very quiet mewing sound I have heard many times before. I lower my bow and silently retreat to the other side of the creek, I lower myself to the forest floor and feel the earth embrace me in my newfound hiding place. This hunt has come to an end , but the spectacle soon to follow I am certain will be far better than any harvest I may have made today. My patience is soon rewarded when two small cubs scurry down from a large fir tree and join their mother near the carcass. She rolls onto her back and lets the little balls of fur suckle, I silently thank the creator for the warning that this bear was a mother. There is really no way to tell if a bear is alone in most cases and several cubs die every year because the hunter was not aware that the bear was a female with cubs until after the harvest. Usually the cubs are well hidden in a tree nearby and will not reveal themselves until their mother calls. And females will hide their offspring while they feed, to ensure another bear or predator doesn’t come across them and kill the young. Finally the she bear calls softly once again to her young and they retreat into the forest shadows. I raise myself from the ground and shoulder my bow, this days hunt is done, I walk through the wilderness just enjoying the forest and all the sounds and smells on my way back home from this high place, the memory of a bear family forever locked in my mind and a smile on my face. Knowing I was lucky to have met them in this place and for once blessed to have not released an arrow on the hunt. Hawk a/ho

7 comments:

Mental P Mama said...

Coming from a pseudo-city slicker like myself: I guess that what makes a "mama bear."

huntertrapper said...

nice hawk. i love seein your respect for the animals ya hunt. ive learned a lot from you and know that respect matters most///

Sandy said...

Beautiful post. So glad she called to her young at just the right moment.

Stacey Huston said...

Beautiful story Mike. Baby animals need their mothers for survival, and I know how much it would have pained you had you actually got a shot before she revealed her young..

fishing guy said...

Hawk: Certainly a very ethical move and a good way to allow the species to prosper. I'm sure you would always take the high road in these type of situation. I salute your decision and have gained even more respect for your actions.

RainforestRobin said...

Hello Hawk, I truly admire your honesty about your hunting, your feelings, and how it really happened. On top of that I admire your integrity for and toward all LIFE. That makes your character very strong and noble. It is a wonderful lesson for your children and the world. I am glad that you are and were patient that day. Humans often go into the wild expected things to happen in "human time" and when they don't they think nothing is happening, but if they are observant and listen and watch and wait just a bit, they will see things like what you saw this day with the bear and cubs. I know I said it once, but I am deeply touched that you "see" and you "know". Your soul is full of the outdoors, full of the wild things. Thanks Hawk, RainforestRobin www.nakedineden.com

TSannie said...

I have great respect for those hunters who honor and respect the animals. I believe I've read/heard, but haven't a clue where, that Native Americans (and I'm sure many other indigenous people) also honor(ed) the animals they hunt as sustainers of their lives. Kind of to everything there is a purpose.

In other words, your words are beautiful and thought-provoking as usual. Thanks for sharing.