New Season and New Gear for Black Bear

I was making preparations for Idaho's spring bear season and had a chance encounter with our "son-in-law" — my wife's daughter's fiancé. His unrestrained excitement about my hunt led to an immediate invitation, despite the fact I knew it would likely mean sacrificing my own hunt. Alex is a hard working fellow with his head screwed on straight (increasingly rare for his generation), and a Staff Sergeant in Connecticut's Army National Guard. He's been to Afghanistan twice and been involved in some very nasty stuff. His hunt would be wedged between training missions in preparation for his September return.

Things started badly, mostly due to a flood of competition -- including a big outfitted camp -- in an area I'd otherwise always had to myself. One of my barrels even went missing, causing me to come uncorked, exchanging colorful invectives with a group of guides. I almost abandoned the site, but my number-one spot hadn't being touched, which is strange because it's normally my best, resulting in two behemoth bears in four seasons.

Ultimately we were limited to the single site. Activity slowed with warming weather, but Alex eventually got his shot. I can't really say what went wrong. Alex appeared calm enough, even after waiting 10 minutes for the bear to turn. He took his time with the shot. But his arrow flew harmlessly high, his only opportunity during a short stay. He seemed to take the defeat better than I did'¦  I really wanted him to get his first bear.

With four days of season remaining I returned to pull my barrels and stands before season's end. I also decided to hunt a couple days; you know, just in case. I'd planned to shoot Easton's Injexion Carbon and New Archery Products Deep Six Big Nasty broadheads, but a handful of test shots revealed poor flight. The .330 deflection was just a tad light for my Hoyt Carbon Matrix's 73-pound, 30-inch draw, aggressive RKT Cam and fixed-blade broadheads. I turned to some .300 Victory VAPs I'd just received (NAP's Quick Fletch got them ready fast), tipped with Sanford Innovation's cut-on-contact BloodShot broadhead. This combination produced field-tip groups.

Wet and wild weather was forecasted but held off while making the long drive up, setting up camp and getting installed on stand at 4 p.m. The first bear arrived at 6:30, a scruffy little fellow I'd no intension of shooting but enjoyed watching for the next couple hours as he came and went. By 8 p.m. dark clouds socked in, turning it gloomy and dim (true darkness arrives at 9:30 p.m. in June this far north). I was ready to call it when a massive black blob appeared below the bait.

The big boar took his time, allowing me to engage in calming breathing exercises to settle redlined nerves. Then I waited some more for an angle, the 250- to 300-pound bear finally turning just enough to allow a shot. I drew, put the bright fiber on the back edge of his shoulder and squeezed the shot.

The bear shot out beneath me in a dozen lounging bounds, crashing into a hollow and piling up.  He traveled twenty-five yards -- and I swear it --  in three seconds. That was all. The arrow had clipped the rear edge of the shoulder, blasted through both lungs and top of the heart and stuck in a tree beyond. Exceptional penetration -- and one of the fastest bow kills I've ever witnessed.

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