Todd and Brady claim they are cursed. Somehow they’ve come to the conclusion that if someone in camp won’t get their animal it’s them. I’ve been determined to break that curse, and in the Spring of 2015 I got my chance when they came bear hunting with me. I’d like to tell you Todd’s story here, you can read Brady’s story under Old Scar Face.
Now bear hunting is a bit of a slam dunk, there are so many bears around it isn’t about getting one, it’s about getting the right one. So even though Todd could have shot several small bears to break the curse, that’s not good enough for me. It had to be a big one. But as anyone who’s hunted bears will tell you, they are hard to judge.
I’d taken Todd and Brady down an old logging road, one we’d been seeing lots of bears on recently, when as we passed a side road I spotted a black bear. It was just a flash, I saw a bear and nothing else, no chance to size it up.
I pulled over and we barrelled out of the truck, they loaded up and I grabbed the shooting sticks and we crept back up the road to the side road for a better look. It was about 100 yards down the road feeding, but the road was so full of brush we couldn’t see it very well. I got Todd set up on the shooting sticks and we waited to see what would happen.
Slowly the bear made its way down the road towards us, oblivious to our presence in spite of our being completely out of cover. I whispered to Todd, “I can’t tell how big he is, looks like a good one. Get ready to shoot, but don’t shoot unless I say.” Todd got set up and we waited patiently.
The bear kept coming, pausing to eat as it wandered, and even at less than 100 yards I was having a tough time sizing up this bear in the brush and the awkward angles it would let me glimpse. I had my binoculars glued to my eyes, and was picking apart everything I could about the bear.
“Just wait, not sure yet, hold…” I’m whispering to Todd as it comes nearer. 80 yards, 50 yards, the bear just kept wandering slowly our direction. Tensions start to rise as a black bear starts getting that close to you, your adrenaline level will reach new heights, and both of us are holding our breath in anticipation. At about 20 yards it cleared the brush and I got a really good look at it. It took a few steps towards us, saw us for the first time, turned broadside and stopped to look at us. And it was a shooter, big broad shoulders, fat head, and a low belly.
“Shoot!” I whispered. The bear began to run, “Shoot!” I spoke in a regular voice, the bear was now loping casually away. “SHOOT!” I yelled as the bear hit the treeline and disappeared.
It was at that point Todd says he felt his life was threatened. It may have been my hands closing around his neck and throttling him.
“The curse… its real!” I shouted in exasperation. “Why didn’t you shoot?”
“I actually didn’t expect you to tell me to shoot,” Todd said rather sheepishly, “We’ve passed up so many bears I just thought we’d pass this one up too.”
We laughed it off, but I wasn’t done with this bear. “This bear will be back,” I told them, “He was moving pretty determined this direction. Lets go further up the road, kill an hour or so and come back.”
And that’s exactly what we did. We actually jumped a couple more bears further up, but couldn’t get on them before they left. We came back to the vicinity of that first shooter, but parked the truck about a kilometer back. I left Brady in the truck with instructions to follow in about half an hour, Todd and I were going to walk up to where we saw the bear.
We started walking up the road, which had a long straight stretch that went up a hill, at the top of which was the side road. As we reached the bottom of the hill I looked up and our bear emerged from the side road onto the main road and began walking down the middle of the road towards us. It was dusk by this time, and we just set up right in the middle of the road. He was about 250 yards away, head down cruising. I looked him over good to make sure it was the same bear, and then told Todd, “Let him come to us, but the moment he turns broadside shoot him, you won’t get a second chance, he’ll be in the brush beside the road quick and be gone.”
The bear was oblivious to us, and just kept padding down the road towards us. 200 yards, then 150, then 100. It was getting ready to tell Todd just to shoot him head on when he stopped at about 60 yards, lifted his head up to look at us, turned and then BOOM! Todd nailed him. He ran about 20 yards into the trees and piled up.
“The curse is broken!” We celebrated. About that time Brady drove up. He hadn’t heard the shots, but his timing couldn’t have been better. One down, one to go, and although Todd’s was a fantastic trophy, Brady’s was even bigger, but that’s another story.