I prepared for the hunt by first having my son send me my hunting rifle, a rifle I hadn’t shot for at least ten years. The guys at the range saw me just about every day shooting either my rifle or handgun. As the day neared the more I focused on what I needed including reading up on black bears.
Finally the day came for me to get out there in the wilderness, alone with nature, anxiously waiting to see that bear. Mind you, I have never seen a bear of any sort in the wild, the zoo doesn’t count. Those bears are bribed with food and safety from hunters to be there. The first day we arrived I rushed to get my gear on to head out to “my spot,” sure was quite and dark. That night not even a squirrel came to visit, well the bugs did, all they did was bug me. A night of good rest, breakfast settling in my stomach, I was once again headed out to my spot. Here I was getting settled into my blind, watching Mark wet the bait barrel up I was a bit perplexed. Such skill, thought and some good ole donated sweets and bread went into baiting the bears. Don’t feel sorry for those bears, if not for that bait barrel I could have been its meal.
As I patiently waited, nodding off frequently (I was very relaxed), ravens, squirrels and a deer visited the barrel. After breaking a twig a few times the deer finally left, however that pesky little squirrel went up a tree close to me and stared at me as if I didn’t belong there. Well I got up for a few moments, just to stretch, then back in the blind covering myself up even more. Well here came the deer again, this time I just watched her. She was spooked by something and took off so fast it was incredible. Well back to nodding in and out waiting for my future dinner.
All of a sudden I was wide awake, seeing a set of eyes and black ears. I said to myself, sure is pretty just like Kimber, my service dog. Anticipating every move that bear made, trying to figure out what kind of shot I would have to take. The time came, no hesitation on my part, BOOM! and down that bear went. To ensure he wasn’t getting up just so I’d have to chase it I fired again. Waiting a few moments to see if he was going to get up, I got out of that blind cautiously walking toward the bear. I walked, at a distance, to see if he was going to take off. Once I figured out he wasn’t going anywhere, except my table, I was so excited at taking down my very first bear I yelled; “YA WHOOOOO.” Shoot, I was so excited I figured I could pick up that bear, put it on my shoulders and walk back to the cabin. After I tried to move it twice I realized those days were over.
I am so grateful to Send-A-Vet for such a wonderful experience, one I might not have had otherwise. For this group to give veterans an opportunity to spend time with other veterans, in such a beautiful place is above and beyond what I expected. The cabin, river, peaceful area, kindness, great food, wonderful staff, I’m not sure there are words to express how grateful I am for this opportunity.