Big Bob Chandler picked me up for our bear hunt on Tucker Ridge at 930am on Sunday morning. We would be heading up past Lincoln over to Rt 6 to hunt from a blind over bait. Our Guide, John Floyd, had been sending us game cam pictures for weeks and we were excited.
We talked about all the extra gear Bob had brought along, because guides he had used in the past tended to scrimp on the “good stuf” when it came to bait. He told me he had raspberry donut filling, anise oil, and these things called “Bear Bombs” that you set off, and throw out in front of you. The can is pressurized, and it sprays a fine aresol mist on the winds for something like 20 minutes. He even bought a brand new pop up blind, in case John was skimping on equipment too. I teased him. I knew John wasn’t skimping!
Before we even got halfway to Lincoln, Bob insisted on stopping at another trading post to see what kind of deals he could find there. I tried to talk him into buying me a new AR-15, and even tried to make him believe he had already promised, but he didn’t take the bait.
As we traveled up the interstate we continued to good naturedly tease each other has we had for years, before Bob shared with me that his Honey back home was worried that Bob had planned all along to stay an additional week at bear camp. I was already staying on in a staff position as camp cook, and Bob knew there was aa last minute all inclusive deal because an active duty military client’s orders had changed and he had to cancel. Bob revealed to me that secretely he HAD been thinking of doing just that!
The funny thing is, Bob had NO intention of shooting a bear! He just likes to sit in the blind and watch the bait to see what comes in. If bears come in and he is there to see it, is that much better.
As a matter of fact, he told me “Do NOT shoot the first bear you see tomorrow!”
I asked, “What happens if I pass up a bear and it is the only one we see???”
“Well THAT’S bear hunting buddy!” was the reply.
“Sounds stupid to me to pass up a bear, just because it’s the first one…” I mumbled.
“What???” Bob asked..(he’s a little hard of hearing)
“I said, ‘It’s your hunt buddy!’ ” I shouted back at him.
We get to Tucker Ridge, and John is waiting for us at the cabin we
will call home for the next six days.
John lends a hand in unloading while we all chat, then tells us he will let us get unpacked and he will be back in a bit to see the site, and set a plan for the next day’s hunt.
When John comes beck we decide to go out to the site, and figure it out from there so, we climb into John’s truck and head on over.
We get to a wooded trail that works its way down off the ridge into a little hollow. At times the trail gets steep in places. I’ve mentioned that I have known Bob since I was in my teens, and it is sometimes hard for me to remember that he is in his mid 70’s…that is until I realize I am looking 50 square in the eye! Bob isn’t complaining but I can tell that he is worried about the climb back up the trail.
We check out the site. John shows us where the game camera is, we can see the bait barrel. In fact I can even smell it, and apparently I started to drool, because John noticed and had to grab me by the suspenders to prevent me from running over and sampling the goodies!
When we got back to the truck we decided to be in the site well before first light the next day, and hunt a few hours in the morning, until the sun came up and things got too warm for bears that are growing winter coats. Then John would come back with his 4 wheeler, and Bob could ride that back up the trail to the truck. Turns out the hill was a bit steeper than it seemed. But that was OK, because the bears that had been coming to the site were used to the sound of the 4 wheeler coming in when John filled the bait barrels.
We had a plan! So we went back to the cabin, and I invited John over for a quick breakfast at 345am the next morning, and we would be on stand roughly a half hour later!
We said good night. John headed to his home next door. Bob grabbed a giant glass of milk and a slice of the coffee cake John’s wife had made and left for us on the cabin table, cranked the furnace up to 314 F and sat on the couch. I started dinner, and put a copy of Stephen King’s “The Mist” into the DVD player. We were at our first night in bear camp…and boy did we have it rough…
I didn’t know just HOW rough until the next morning!
TO BE CONTINUED!