Bear-ly Hunting

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My rifle appreciates the few rays of sun splitting between the trees that hold my stand.

Of all the lectures that I could’ve missed in my WMAN 100 class, “The Traditions of Hunting,” it had to be the one about black bear management. That’s probably why I didn’t get a bear during black bear season in PA.

Not really…but maybe. Kidding! It was really windy and I was in a tree stand in the middle of a cornfield. If I were a bear, I’d keep hiding in the thickets to keep warm, too. And I was honestly okay sitting and freezing up there for three hours. I was bear hunting – how cool!

The idea of bear hunting had never crossed my mind until my dad called me one afternoon earlier in November. He said that his friend, Brad, has some property in northern PA that had a bear problem.

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Just a little piece of Brad’s property. I loved it.

My dad kept me on my toes for that entire month, texting me pictures of the beautiful scenery and bear “droppings.” He told me stories of all these bears running around Brad’s property, one sneaking up on Brad five feet from his porch.

Even without these, hunting a bear just seemed so cool! I thought about it all during my wildlife management and biology classes, seeing if I could apply bear stuff to the lectures. Break couldn’t come soon enough.

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The sun set behind the trees and threw its light over the cornfield in such a beautiful manner.

My parents picked me up Sunday, Nov. 22. That morning, church seemed to take forever, especially with my dad next to me, taunting me by showing me the tag. I couldn’t pay attention – sorry, Father Isaac! That night, the trek home quickly passing because I was talking to them and my brother the entire ride.

Then, it was Monday, Nov. 23, the day of the hunt. My dad, brother and I only woke up an hour late, which is impressive for us night owls. We ate our Cap’n Crunch Berries and quickly packed up our clothes and loaded into the truck, the anticipation driving us. The roughly 2-hour car ride was fueled by chattering of images of sleuths of bear tromping through Brad’s property.

We arrived, and it was cold, the kind of it’s-about-to-snow cold with gusts of wind cutting at exposed skin over an open field. But, hey, it’s been worse. I’ve hunted in colder for rifle season for deer, and this is for bear!

But I forgot that for deer rifle season, I’m on a hill, out of the wind, huddled under a wool blanket, sipping a thermos of hot chocolate coffee with my dad.

Three pairs of pants, seven shirts, two pairs of socks, two hats, a dickey and three pair of gloves did not prepare me for the event of being thrown into a 20-yard-high treestand in the middle of a cut cornfield with that cold, cold wind.

The treestand itself wasn’t quite sketchy, but was definitely homemade. It was a platform that sat into a tree split into a V, and the steps were boards nailed into the trees. With my short legs, boots four sizes too big and extra padding, it was quite difficult to maneuver my body on these boards that were just too far apart. My dad had to literally give me the extra push in. #bondingtime It was a sad sight from my point of view, but amusing from everyone else’s. I’ll get to the funny view soon enough.

My brother didn’t have it much better. He was in a sunny treeline, but the sun blocked his vision. Also, he has a few injuries that made it very painful to climb up, and the cold wasn’t helping.

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My brother, Jonathan, descends from the treestand and out of the cold. He’s grumbling but looks like a total badass!

And, to top it off, we only saw two v’s of geese fly over my head just before sundown. No bear. My dad said he pushed a few on his five-mile trek (bless his heart) but my brother and I saw nothing.

But what I did get was time to sit and admire the landscape. Look how pretty it is! Look how blue the sky is! How white the clouds are! That tree that pops up in a few pictures is probably a maple tree. I haven’t taken a dendrology class yet, but my friend who has guessed maple. 

I had my time to think, too, which is probably why I had so much fun. I haven’t been able to relax for the past few months while in school, and this time allowed me to reflect on everything that I’ve accomplished. While caught up in the weekly routines of school, it’s hard for me to see the big picture, especially because the “big picture” is on my iPhone. I loved being able to put that away (after taking my selfies, of course) because moments are more than things to be bragged about on social media. They’re meant to be felt and experienced, and I love having those in God’s big backyard.

I can’t wait to get back out again.

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I swear I’m happy, I was just focused on showing off my .243 (and was so cold that tears were freezing on my face, no big deal). I so had fun 🙂