This has been a life changing experience for me and I am thrilled and still in shock 3hrs after the kill!
Friday afternoon after a long 24hrs of military missions up to Ft. Greely I arrived back at the house on JBER. The mission was a nightmare from the start and after having one truck blow a head gasket it turned into a long long fiasco. I arrive home kiss the wife and kid and give the ol dogs a scratch as I pop my boots off and take a few moments to unwind. I decided to pop on the forum to check the news on sit activity and see how things have been going. After promply typing in my log-in I see the "2 notifications" in my inbox. Upon opening the first message I was greeted by a new found friend John. He was offering me a chance of a lifetime to hunt his site with him over a 2 day duration in the interior. I look over at my wife and get the "If you decide to do this hunt YOU WILL OWE ME ANYTHING I WANT" look. I decide to call John up to find out more details on the offer.
After about a 45 minute converstation I told him I would mull it over and give him a call later in the day to decide as I was dog tired from driving over 600 miles already in the past 24 hours and would be stuck driving quite a bit more if I decided to go. So after getting the wifes blessing and a swift kick in the butt along with a evil eye, I call John and let him know I am heading on up.
After arriving at the "rondevouz point" I meet up with John and some friends. Johns first statement to me was "hey Ryan, your bear is in the back of the boat. (pointing to his buddies boat). I chuckle a bit and then look inside the boat to see a nice blackie (now I am questioning Johns seriousness). After a few laughs we head out to his place. John set me up in the guest room and we decide to sit around and talk a bit as he showed me some of his many photos that he and his wife have taken and some of his fur's he has trapped over the years. 2:30 AM is now approaching us and we decide to call it a night to prepair for the hunt soon approaching.
Morning arrives fairly early and we decide to do the normal breakfast and watch some outdoors shows to kill some time before we head out to get what we need. 8PM is now upon us and we are ready to head out, Argo loaded and high hopes we make the journey to the site. Sitting in the stand for what felt like only a few hours we periodicly turn on the sat phone to check the time, watching the squirrels nibble on the sweet feed and maple syrup. Quietly listening to the sounds of the wilderness. 10PM, 11PM, 12PM and nothing yet. The only beast we are finding is the beast of sleep depervation. 1230AM rolls around and I glance over at John, as he starts to doze off, mosquitos feasting on our skin we do what we can to keep still.
130AM, as I periodicly close my eyes I try to keep a watchful state, all while trying to not laugh as John is now rolling into a full snore next to me in his chair. 1:40AM I glance up to see a black shadow shifting towards the barrel. Heart rate has now reached 100 beats a minute as I nudge John in his side. after three good nudges John opens his eyes and to my amazment the only words he can utter in his semi incoherent state.... "ITS A SHOOTER" As I try to position myself in the tree to place a solid shot the bear gets antsy and grabs a mouth full of food and B lines to cover... Nerves rattling we wait. 1 minute later he returns, this time much more alert and staring directly into our stand, I am calmed by John stating " be still, wait for it." Then again the bear spooks and I have the gut feeling he is not going to return. 1:47am, John wispers "he is coming back" I line myself up, make a quick scope adjustment and switch my Browning 30-06 4x4 from safe to fire, take a few easy breaths.... squeeze... the sound of the gun and recoil has no feeling or sound in my mind... The bear stands still for about 2-3 seconds then Jolts like a scolded dog into the brush. Heart pounding I look at John for approval that I did infact connect... then we hear the beautiful animals final breaths as he comes to a hault 30 yards away from the point of contact. John and I both enjoy the feeling of a successful hunt as we sit there in the silence just taking in the moment.
It was a wonderful hunt and the images will be burned into my mind for a lifetime. This is a story I will be able to tell my kids, grandkids and friends for years and years to come.
You have made a life long friend and hunting partner today. I am still amazed at how you carry yourself. You are a true "Hunter". Thank you!
Bear weighs roughly 200lbs and is around 5'8-5'10 (will have a better measurement after we finish our coffee and head outside to start the skinning process)