By Dylan Ainsworth
Growing up in a state where its illegal, baiting has never felt like an ethical practice for taking game, to me. Iíve been on a few hound hunts and have no desire of bagging my quarry with their aid. These being the two major methods of hunting black bear my ethics make the pursuit a challenge.
Iíve tried spending hours watching cornfields in brisk early autumn. Ursus Americanus is notorious for destroying farmers crops and most landowners are more than willing to allow hunters to take them off of their property. Personally Iíve always had a hard time sitting and watching. I tend to get so comfortably immersed in the serenity of nature that I doze off. Not a particularly effective hunting technique.
One late summer evening my father and I were targeting coyotes. After what had been a half hour of blowing on a cottontail distress call, we were about to change location when a rather large thrashing sound came from the brush beyond a small knoll. We waited, firearms ready. The olí man pumped a small bulb, imitating a mouse squeak in hopes of enticing the predator closer. Moments later something in my peripheral caught my attention. An ominous black figure weaved in and out of the berry bushes a football fieldís length away.† Had this bear investigated my calling?
While doing some research on the species I read a sentence that† sparked a new flame in the fire that is my obsession for the outdoors. Black Bear are the most predatory of all bear. Iím not sure if itís a fact. I canít even cite the source, but upon reading this my mind processed the info, Black bear Ö. Predator? Ö. Bear calling!†Over the course of the next year I researched the method of bear hunting in anticipation of the coming fall season. I found a very informative DVD by Wayne Carlton which I purchased in a kit with an open reed call. This is the most effective call I have used.
The first time using it a coyote came within ten yards, but was passed on in hopes that a bear would be so curious.† The next outing was even more eventful. As my olí man and I slinked along a field edge where bear had visibly demolished a stand of corn, he froze and said one word ďBear.Ē† Fifty yards ahead the creature moved through the tall brush. Only equipped with a bow my olí man urged me to shoot. I was reluctant, wanting to ensure it was not a sow with cubs. We backed off as my olí man cursed me under his breath. I quietly set up my video equipment an pulled Carltonís call from my pocket.
By this time it seemed my opportunity had passed as the bear had crossed a fence line into an adjacent field. I gave my best squalling but with each moment that passed† the situation looked bleaker. Suddenly out of the woods opposite where were focused† came a bounding bear. I swang the camera around† and attempted to get the running bear in the frame. Headed in our direction the seven-footer stood up straight to get a better look. He must have spotted us because as he dropped down he changed direction offering his broad side. I raised the .30-06 and silenced the call in hopes of stopping the boar.† He stopped,† but as he looked back at me I made eye contact through the scope. Something happened to me that I canít quite explain. I froze. ďBear FeverĒ perhaps, all I could hear was my pounding heart, drowning out the olí manís pleas for me to shoot before it was to late. My throat tightened and breathing became difficult. As I gazed into the boars eyes he seemed to mesmerize me with his stare. A second later he broke his hold on me an vanished into the forest.
In less than an hour I had two opportunities and honestly, I choked both times.† However it is hard to be disappointed in myself. I had just experienced the most exciting hunt of my life. I canít say it wouldnít have been nice to have a bear roast in the crock pot as Iím writing this, but Iím confident that my experiences with calling bear have just begun.