I’m not your typical hunter. I don’t hunt for trophies. I don’t have any heads or mounts. I haven’t even kept a set of antlers. And, I only hunt deer.
I enjoy my solitude in the woods. I’m there to photograph and videotape as much as I am to harvest. The entire experience is one of life’s great pleasures, for me. There’s nothing like harvesting a deer and using every ounce of meat to feed your family.
I even enjoy processing the meat. From tenderloins, to jerky, to brats and summer sausage – we do it all. It’s not only extremely healthy – no hormones or steroids, but it is chockfull of vitamins and minerals and has less fat than chicken. We do enjoy our venison!
Here it’s getting pretty dark around 6:20 – 6:30pm now. At about 6:00pm I see a HUUUGGEE black shape at one of the corn piles 125yds to my right. The biggest bear I’ve seen to date. It started eating the corn similar to the video you saw and then just laid down right in the middle of the path. It just laid there gorging itself. I knew from the last bear I’d filmed that this bear wasn’t going to move for a while. And what’s worse – it was exactly in the path I needed to go to get to my truck. There was no other way. The brush and woods are too thick on either side of the path to cut through; this path was the only means.
Decision time – There was only 15 minutes of potential hunting left until dark. Do I want to wait and see if the bear leaves before then, hunt for a few minutes more, and then risk walking to it in pitch black? Or, should I end my hunt early and walk to it while it’s still light so I could at least see what was going to eat me?
Five minutes of deliberation, getting darker, bear still there with no intention of leaving anytime soon. I decided to go. I made as much movement and noise as I could getting out of my stand. When I got to the ground I had my binoculars around my neck, my 9mm, cocked, ready, safety off in my right hand and my 270 in my left. I looked down the path with my binoculars and the bear hadn’t budged or even noticed my movements or noise.
I walked about 20 feet and let out a loud HEY. The bear doesn’t react. I walked another 20 feet and do a HEY again. This time it looks up and continues to look at me. I walked toward it some more, a little more, a little more and still the bear is looking at me, but not moving. I’m now about 70yds from it and let out another HEY. It sits up on its butt like a dog and continues to just stare at me. I walked a little closer. I don’t think the frickin thing has any inclination to move.
Finally, I get to within 50 yards of it and about three “HEYS” later. It’s still staring. The whole time as I’m inching closer to it and my certain death I’m reflecting on anything I’d ever read or seen about bears to encourage me to keep moving. “They’re docile.” “They’re more afraid of you.” “Bear attacks are extremely rare.” “There are no recorded bear attacks in North Carolina.” But these thoughts are always interrupted with the new headline, “Idiot Mauled by Bear When Stupidly Walking Right Up to It.”
Getting more desperate, I decided to fire my 9mm into the air. BAM!! It stood up casually on all fours, faced me, then turned and walked into the thick brush right beside where it was laying. What’s funny is - it did so with no sense of urgency, but more of a pissed off, inconvenienced, ho-hum attitude. Like a teenager stomping off, “Mom, Why do I have to go to my room again!”
So I continued to walk nervously toward where it had been laying and where it made its departure. I got to the place and was looking down at the enormous claw marks in the corn pile and the huge prints it had made in the dirt. I looked up at the brush it had walked through. After a few seconds of looking into the brush all of a sudden the branches start snapping and the bushes start shaking and I instantly have my guns pointed toward the commotion 10 feet from me.
The bear was waiting there either for me to pass or it to pounce. In a split second I had envisioned the bear either charging me or retreating quickly further into the woods. It was the latter, obviously, since I’m here to tell the story.
I just stood there for another 30 seconds or so after I heard the ruckus. My heart was pounding out of my chest. Before moving on I thoughtfully ascertained if there was anything in my underwear other than what is normally there. Then a huge smile came across my face. This was one of my greatest fears and apprehensions while hunting and being in the woods alone. And I had walked right up to it – deliberately (well sort of – I was going to have to one way or another).
They say foolhardiness is having no fear. Oh – I was afraid. But courage is being afraid and acting anyway. I feel this was no doubt the most courageous moment of my life thus far. The exhilaration was far greater than a successful hunt.