Ever since I got my hunters safety certificate in March, right before my 12th birthday, I had been eager to get into the bush. When I asked my dad when the next hunting season was and what it was for, he told me that next hunting season started April 15 for black bear.
After counting down to April 15th on my calendar, it was finally here! I couldn’t wait to shoot my first bear. Our trail cam showed us that we had a small black bear and a huge black bear coming in regularly, but after three nights sitting in the tree stand, and staying all the way until legal hunting time ended, nothing came in. There was only one month left for me to shoot something, and we became steadily discouraged. Then on my fourth trip to the bear bait, we went through our usual routine of checking the trail camera and found that nothing had been to the bait in the last week and a half. Doubting anything would come in, my dad asked me if I wanted to bother staying or not. I decided to be optimistic and said that it was likely for a bear to come in because they must be hungry and told him that we would stay for a couple of hours and then leave. This proved to be a good decision.
After sitting for half an hour in the stand, my dad nudged me and whispered ,”Aiden look! There’s a bear!” He was pointing at the edge of the clearing and I could see the giant black bear slowly and warily coming into the clearing. My heart was racing as it hammered against my chest. What if this huge bear was to be my first?
As I slowly lifted my rifle, I realized that in our doubt anything would come in, we had forgotten to load my rifle! My dad must have noticed at the same time because he gave me an anxious look and said “uh oh! We forgot to load your rifle didn’t we?” I couldn’t believe it! I was about to open the bolt, when I changed my mind. “Dad! You do it! I won’t be able to do it quietly enough.” So he took my rifle and carefully and extremely quietly loaded it. Finally my dad whispered “here” and passed me my rifle. The big bear had slowly approached the bait but then made a detour and circled towards us in the bush. I followed him in my scope as he came partially into the clearing, but he was still obscured by a small and skinny branched tree. I decided not to risk a shot. Then he turned and started to walk away. For a moment, a painful moment, I thought he was going to leave, but for some reason he turned around again and headed back to the bait, but instead of stopping, he continued past the bait and into the clearing.
By now I was shaking from head to toe, but no, I couldn’t let my hands start shaking. I had to stay focused. The whole time I had been following him in my scope and I could see he was about to leave. In a hurried whisper my dad said “ok, I’m going to make a noise to stop him and you take the shot”. It was now or never. This was my chance. My dad made a chirping sound, stopping the bear for a perfect broadside shot. I aimed just behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. There was a deafening “BANG!!” as my Barnes 123 gr. TSX from my Ruger Compact in 7.62×39 whizzed through the air to the bear. The bear ran off and I whispered anxiously to my dad “did I get him?”. My dad replied that I had made a perfect shot and he had heard the bear go down not far away.
After waiting for what seemed like forever, we climbed down from the stand and went to look for my bear. We found him only 30 yards away from where I had shot him. I had made a perfect shot through the lungs. He was huge, around 6ft from his nose to his tail and had many scars on his head from fighting. My dad patted me on the back and said “good job kiddo!” and I was very proud of myself. So this is what it feels like to shoot your first bear! I was so excited and now I can’t wait until whitetail season!
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