Target Fixation: Spring Bear

The Black Bear. We have a population explosion in Northern BC due to our unusual warm winters and mild springs. 

I round the corner on the dirt road and come to a sudden halt. The Tacoma tires stirs up dust and it floats in front of my view. I pay no heed to it; I am focused on the animal that now appears in front of me. I see the bear 120 yards away on the side of the road looking back at the truck.

My friend, who is in the passenger side, has one hand up to her mouth shoving sunflower seeds into her mouth; “Bear!” she mumbles fervently through a full mouth of Spitz.

“I know!”

I quickly scan the scene.

Cubs? No

Big enough? Yes.

The road behind the bear clear? Yes.

I’m going for it.

I swing the door open and jump out. There is still a small haze of dust in front of me. No matter: I can see through it well enough and I have target fixation.

The bear doesn’t like our presence and it starts to walk down the road, away from us. I feel like I will turn sideways and run into the bush in moments. I have no gun rest. I have to do it free hand.

I take aim. I have the bear in my sights, but it’s not a good shot. It would be an ass shot, and that would be a waste of meat. I just remind myself to be patient; wait until it turns broadside. It does. It’s now only a few meters away from the bush line. If I don’t take the shot now, it will disappear into the bush. I see its vitals in my cross hairs and take the shot.

It runs full tilt into the bush.

“Damn!” I say under my breath.

Still with sunflower seeds in her mouth, my friend mumbles, “Oh, you missed”.

I look at her and remark, “Not necessarily. I may have wounded it”.

I have a sinking feeling that I may have missed it. At 120 yards however, with a 300 short mag rifle, I should have knocked it off its feet and dropped it right there and then.         But at a 120 yards…clear shot…there is no reason I would have missed. Besides, I have never missed an animal….yet. I think to myself.

When you are hunting though, everything can happen very fast: since the time I saw it, stopped and took the shot, it was less than a minute.

I jump back into the truck and pull it over to the edge of the dirt road.

A few tree planters in a truck pass by.

I wander over to where I think I shot it. I see the claw marks in the road. I analyze the area for blood.

Bingo. I see drops of blood.

I wander back to the truck. I laugh because my friend is still sitting in the passenger seat eating sunflower seeds.

For a newbie, just along for the ride, she is quite calm. I’m full of adrenaline and excitement.

I flash her a smile. “I got it!” I exclaim.

Her eyes widen. “You did! That’s awesome! How do you know?”

I take her over to the blood drops.

She looks down. I can see her vision narrow and her eyebrows come up. “That’s blood? It’s the colour of raspberries…squished raspberries”.

I explain to her we have to wait 20 minutes to give time for the animal to settle. Should we go in now after it and it is wounded, not only could it get up and go further into the bush (which means a harder pack out, or not finding it at all), it could also mean danger…a wounded bear is an angry bear.

While we wait, we pack the items we need to gut the bear and pack it out. I call my husband too and tell him the good news. I’m surprised we have cell reception.

My friend is excited. I learn that she has never partaken in the gutting or the processing of an animal. Well, there is a first time for everything. “Until today, I never heard a real gunshot either” she tells me. Wow, what did I get myself into? I think amused.

I go into the bush line first with my gun ready. I see the massive amounts of blow down strewn all over the forest floor. Oi! I pray it didn’t go far. I pray that it is dead. Otherwise it will be one hell of a pack out.

I notice that there are very few drops of blood…too few. I quickly get discouraged again.

My mind starts to race with possible answers about my folly: Not a kill shot? What went wrong? What did I do wrong? Did I pull? 

My mind doesn’t answer back.

We are about ten meters into the bush and there is no more blood. We stand at the last spot where there is one smear of blood on a spruce tree. I probably would have missed it, but I found out that my friend has a keen eye. Two heads are better than one.

Placing my hands on my hips, I shake my head in regret. But there, in the corner of my eye, I see it:


We duck, cover and roll.

No, just kidding.

I take one last scan of the woods in front of me and there I see it – the black fur is another ten meters in front of me

I’m elated. “Got it!” I say in a quiet but excited voice.

My friend is surprised, happy and sad all at the same time. She is happy for me, but sad for the bear. She knows though, that my family and I eat the meat; it’s not a life wasted.

I’m 99.9% sure it’s dead. It fell 20 meters into the bush and if it were alive, I would have seen it move or hear it. I still decide to be cautious and slowly wander up to it.

Upon my approach, I notice that it’s way smaller than I thought. It looked so big on the road. I will learn to tell the sizes of bears as I hunt them more. Oh well, it’s meat and it’s one less potential future calf/fawn killer.

I place my hand on the animal and do a silent prayer to it and to God for the life and the blessing.

I set to work gutting the bear. I see that the shot went right where I aimed: in the vitals. The bullet passed through. It didn’t know what hit it. I see why it hardly left any blood on the ground: It all pooled inside the lung cavity.

The gutting doesn’t take long and we haul it over the blow downs. Despite the smaller size of the bear, we work up a sweat getting it out and into the back of the truck.

This is my first animal harvest without a man. It will be quite the experience on a larger animal. My friend was a great help and company. I see more hunting adventures with her.

We start heading for home. The sun is beginning to set behind us. The warm spring breeze passes through the cab of the truck while the windows are down. We make light chit chat and just enjoy the occasional silence. We hit the highway and the kilometres slip by. Life is good.

Wait…where’s my gun?

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Authors note: Negative comments will be removed. If you don't like what you read or see, don't come to my page. I eat what I shoot, I shoot what I eat.  I have great respect for wild animals. Hunting is a way of life where I live and it's part of conservation.