Editor's Note: On Friday we dig into our vast archives and dust off a story from the past. Today we join a hunter on her first quest for black bear in Saskatchewan. This story first appeared in the October/November 2004 issue of Hunt Forever magazine.
My first bear hunt came about when my husband and I met Wayne and Susan Schigol of Great Grey Outfitters at the 2003 SCI Convention. After speaking with them at length it was apparent they were professionals and I knew I would be in good hands.
We arrived in Saskatoon the following May and after traveling to the hunting camp, we sighted in our rifles and prepared ourselves for the hunt that lay ahead. As a woman hunter who started later in life, it was a bit intimidating to think about the size of the apex predator I would soon be hunting. After spending some time watching video of other successful hunts my apprehension subsided, but it did not keep me from dreaming that night that I had dropped my rifle out of the stand while the bears surrounded the tree and looked at me as their next meal. When I relayed the dream to the others the next morning, they all had a good laugh and then assured me that I would have a great time.
My guide placed me in the stand that afternoon and I settled in to enjoy the sounds and sights of the outdoors. After several hours had passed and twilight approached, I assumed the hunt was over for the day and I would have better luck tomorrow. While I had heard some snorting and a couple of growls earlier, the bear had kept himself hidden in the woods.
Exactly five minutes after I placed my rifle in my lap in anticipation of my guide returning to take me back to the lodge, a magnificent animal came out in the open. Totally silent, he walked very slowly, looking around and sniffing the air to make sure he was alone. I waited, trying not to make a sound as he moved farther out into the open. All I could hear was my heart beating hard! I knew he was a big one, but at that moment I didn't know how big he truly was.
As he continued into the open I waited until he looked away and slowly and carefully moved my rifle into position. After three or four minutes, he presented me with a broadside shot and I immediately squeezed the trigger of my Browning .30-06. I managed to get a perfect shoulder shot and he went down. He got up and started to run as I chambered another round. I took my last shot as he was quartering away. He managed to make it about 60 yards before going down for good.
I waited in the stand, shivering for what seemed an eternity riding the wave of adrenaline and finally heard the four wheeler approaching. It wasn't until my guide arrived that I realized how big this bear really was! The guide got the first close up look and reported the bear was massive and chocolate colored. He tried to move the bear but wasn't able to even budge it. In the end it took three men to roll him onto the ATV trailer to get him back to the lodge.
My very first bear was the talk of the group for the rest of the trip. It measured 76 inches from nose to tail, 58 inches in girth and his skull had a conservative green measure of 21 5/ inches. He weighed in at about 550 pounds. What a fantastic trophy! I've relived it a hundred times and it was an experience I'll never forget.–Kathy Howe