"Honey, I just saw a bear!" Dick was calling Audrey on the cellphone."I saw one too," she replied, "and I shot it!" Dick didn't know where she was because she went to a different spot on his Chautauqua County, New York property than what she told him.
That's how our evening of Friday, October 28 started for Dick and Audrey, and their friends Wally and Steve. The tracking job began at about 8:00 with Wally taking the lead. Sometimes we saw lots of blood, other times we struggled to find drops the size of a pinhead. After about 400 yards we found Audrey's arrow, but the broadhead was broken off. It was still in him. The bear went a total of about 600 yards, and headed into a clearcut.
We had tracked the bear for an hour and a half in wet leaves. The forecast called for precipitation, and we were afraid if we called it off for the night we wouldn't find any blood sign in the morning. We got snow overnight, so we're glad we didn't give up. There's no way we could have followed in the morning.
Everywhere we shined a light, we saw a shadow. He could be hiding in any one of them. We weren't sure we should go into the slashing, but Wally led the way. About 50 yards in he saw the bear under a treetop. Was it dead? Dick shined the light on it and it blinked. Twice. There stood Wally, about 7 feet from a wounded bear. We decided to back out and wait until morning. When we got up on the bank above the clearcut, we heard a loud moan, and we felt pretty confident it was over. But we still couldn't retrieve him. In the darkness we could barely see anything in the tangled mess.
All the photos were taken in the morning. The orange flagging tape on the tree leaning to the right gave us a visual marker. The bear had holed up under the big log in the left. The other picture shows Audrey under the treetops with him, right where he died.
After some fitful sleep we met at 7:30 AM, and hiked to the spot we left last night. The bear was right where we left him, and it was dead. Now came the problem of getting him out of the clearcut and up the hill about 500 yards to Wally's truck.
The shot was a difficult one. He was quartering toward Audrey, which doesn't leave any room for error. You don't have to be far off to miss big, but fortunately she missed small. As a national archery 3D competitor (2011 ASA "Shooter of the Year" and IBO National Champion--Amateur Women's Division), she knows the rule "Aim small, miss small." The arrow got good penetration and the bear was bleeding out both sides. In all, it went about 600 yards. He must have figured the clearcut was its safe spot. It was only about 50 yards into the slashing where he chose his final bed. When we found him, he was either too weak to go on, or he was hoping we wouldn't see him under the tangled mess.
We figured he (it was a boar) weighed about 150 pounds. He was real round and had thick legs, so he looked larger when he was on his feet. He was tough to get out of the clearcut (good thing he didn't weigh 300.) From there, it was all uphill. Wally brought his wheeled cart, which made it a lot easier. We had the bear back to the trucks by 9:00, and it was time for coffee.
Audrey field dressed him with a Havalon knife. He's the third animal she has field dressed with the Havalon knife this season. She also did two does. Now she's ready for a big buck.