In 2016, my husband and I booked a spot-and-stalk black bear hunt in Alberta, Canada. Knowing that I would only get one good shot on a bear, I practiced every chance I got. I practiced in all positions--standing up, sitting down and kneeling---and practiced shooting up a hill and down. Not knowing where and when a black bear would be spotted, I wanted to be ready.
While driving to Alberta, I was thinking about all the different scenarios that could possibly happen, as well as what the terrain would be like. When we arrived though, the terrain was nothing I imagined. You see on TV different mountain foothill hunts but it is nothing like they show until you actually experience it yourself.
Bear hunting was a little un-nerving, knowing that we could possible run into grizzly bears. As we headed to the bush, I kept a watchful eye out for them and was on guard, but most of all I was determined I was going to get a black bear with my bow. I headed into the bush with our guide and my husband. I followed the guide up and down the mountains, through water, mud, over logs, and rocks. We would stop and glass, looking out at the open clover fields and through the bush. It seemed as if we had walked for miles, then finally, we came around a corner and there he was, a nice mature boar.
Our guide told me "you want this one!." So we walked slow and kept an eye on him. He was so busy eating that he did not even notice us. As we were getting closer and closer my heart was beating faster and faster. I really wanted to get this bear and was hoping he would not spot us and run off.
We finally got where the guide thought we were close enough and told me he was at 37 yards. This was well within my practice shooting range. The bear spotted us and started to walk off, I drew my bow, the guide whistled, the bear stopped. He turned broadside and looked right at us! By this time, I could feel my heart pounding through my chest. I drew on him and was so focused that I felt like I was in a fog and nothing and no one around me existed, only the bear. I released the arrow and hit him perfectly. He ran about 10 yards and fell. I was so excited I almost cried but did not want the guide to think I was a big baby. My husband was so excited for me that he said he even choked back tears.
While we gave the bear some time, this also gave me a little time to settle down as well. My hands were shaking and I had to control my breathing and choked back big tears . We found the bloody arrow, I picked it up and put it back in my quiver. I could not believe what had just happened. After a bit, we walked over to the bear and I still could not believe my eyes. My very first bear and with a bow.
The guide told me that the bear was about 6 -7 years old and was over 300 pounds. I saw the guide and my husband high five each other; they both confirmed that I had a great shot on him. My husband told me he was so proud of me. At this point I was still in awe! The guide and my husband pulled the bear up onto a log and the picture taken started. My lips were still quivering while choking back the tears and I was still shaking a bit. Once it was all over, the tears came I could not hold them in any longer.
This is one experience I will NEVER forget.
Follow Cara and her adventures on Instagram at @cara_jfd_wi.