“To be alive means 12-20 breaths per minute. To be alive means 60- 100 beats per minute”
Every breath is a blessing but the true miracle, is the day one stops converting oxygen into carbon dioxide and starts really living. In a life there are two vital days; the day one was born and the day they find out why.
I started living the day my passion for bowhunting took my breath away. As a child, one absorbs the interests of family members like a sponge. I was one little girl that certainly absorbed my family’s enchantment for the outdoors and the passion for hunting. Growing up I watched friends and family take their chances every year in hunting season. They ventured out to bring home food to fill the freezer and unforgettable memories that would last long after the our loved ones are gone. My eagerness to earn my place among my loved ones and my drive for greatness lead me to a twenty two hour drive to Saskatchewan, Canada for black bear.
My mom joined me for the long long adventure. I had began to believe that one more hour in the car and my body would soon become part of the black leather seats. When my little white SUV entered bear camp my stomach was filled with butterflies.There were at least seventy excited jumbo butterflies doing the can-can with my nerves. The northern part of Saskatchewan is decorated with dense forests. The forests are filled with so many colors of organisms that call this place home. Picture perfect creeks,rivers, and lakes bring the land to life. A big bright blue sky that commands one’s attention was filed with the sound of billions of little parsimonious bugs. I was welcomed into bear camp by a bouncy loving black lab, my funny, experienced guide Kris, and his thoughtful dad Don. Camp consisted of two white outfitters tents and one kitchen/ dinning room tent. Good food and laughter filled the camp. The two days that followed my arrival will forever change who thought I was and who I was capable of being.
Every good day begins with some buttermilk pancakes and banana bread; well at least I thought.
After filling my stomach I found myself on a twenty minute quad ride to a tree stand called “ Close Encounters”. I followed Kris to the stand cautiously, due to the name I was worried we would walk up on a few bears having a nice afternoon snack. Thankfully the welcoming community was away for our entrance. Our tree stand was half way up in a good old pine tree. A small creek lay behind us, where we could hear multiple bears crossing back and forth. For this stand the bears had three entry points , my eyes would flash back and forth from all of them.
Every couple minutes we would hear countless sticks break and I could hear a couple of the roars from the big boars dancing around. Many of the bears just kept circling the stand, waiting for the right moment to venture in. Around 9:00 pm is when the party stated. From the left access point a little brown bear trotted in. The little bear had a long pointed nose with half circle ears and big round eyes. The little two year was about four feet tall maybe seventy pounds. Fifteen minutes later two small black bears found their way into the food barrel. Three little bears took turns pushing each other off the oats. Twenty minutes later the junior bear began to act jumpy and the junior brown one began standing up on his back legs, with his nose in the air. Kris and I kept looking around and right then a big 300 pound tri color bear appeared behind a fallen log. The big bear had a huge blocky head that was a solid cinnamon color. Then the body was a white blonde color and the stocky legs were a dark brown. Now at this moment my left leg began to shake; it was uncontrollable. I kept trying to stand up to get ready for my shoot but my little legs wanted no part of it. My heart was beating as fast as horses on a race track. My heart beat was so loud I was afraid the bears could hear it. Finally I was able to stand up, load one of my arrows into my pop up rest. To be able to have a good shot I needed that tri color bear to sit down and give me a broadside shot. This bear just kept pacing around, walking closer to us then turning around and leaving. All the teenage bears found their way back to the oats. For at least twenty minutes kept pulling my forty five pound Matthew’s mission compound bow, ready to take my shot but as soon as I went to release the bear would decide it wanted to take a sweet little stroll.
Finally the big cinnamon stopped, I was a hundred percent sure I had my shot
This was my moment nerves aside, I was filled with adrenaline. I pulled back, tired to breathe, my mind was clear. With a push of my small index finger on my release, my white and orange fletched arrow spun its way way towards what I had thought would be my bear. Sadly the bear decided to move one inch to left and my arrow just collided with the shoulder bone. Bear’s shoulders have a dense shelf surrounding them, so my arrow hitting that was just like a fly attacking a wall. That moment the bear just pulled out my little arrow and walked off into the sunset. So now Kris and I have to make it back to the quad with a very angry bear out there. Kris being the trusty guide he climbed down first and made sure the coast was clear. My shaky, sweaty palms could barely hold on to the small ladder. Safely on the ground we made our way out to the path. Talk about having a feeling someone was watching you, I kept waiting for that bear to pop out. Kris got me safely back to the quad. Off we rode back to camp with hope for better luck tomorrow. Everyone experiences that pre success moment, that gut feeling, that the goal at hand can be reached. I had that feeling,
I let go of the disappointment of yesterday and pushed forward
My push got me in the direction of another tree stand, with no name. This stand sat twenty feet up in a bare old noisy pine tree. Kris and I sat looking straight down at the honey colored oats, about twelve yards away. On our right was a slow moving river that was enclosed by lush green bushes. After sitting in the stand with cold rain finally a little activity occurred; a 300 pound sow huffed her way into the oats. The beautiful bear was followed in by a train of two clumsy black football sized cubs. Momma bear looked around cautiously for any dangers before indulging herself into the oats. The two little energy filled cubs hopped, jumped and danced around in a playful manner. With one grunt the momma bear sent the two cubs up a pine tree fourteen yards from the tree stand. After five minutes of sniffing the air and looking for a treat, she decided to leap up in the trees with her cubs. The little family stayed in the pine tree for about ten minutes. Momma bear found her way to the bottom, followed by the little guys. A few moments after that a nervous, jumpy two year old sow came in. We knew it was a sow because the fur was not smooth, the nose was very narrow, and the bear had pear shape. The little bear ran in and out of the oats with every little sound. Ten minutes of pacing the little sow was scared off and acted like she was running for her life towards the brown river. At this moment Kris and I got ready because that gut feeling was telling us that a big bear was coming in. Just like that, dead ahead a blocky shoulder appealed and then a nice stocky body. This time I had no crazy excitement leg shakes, but my heart was racing.
This beautiful bear finally gave me a broadside shot.
I had been waiting for this moment for sixteen years. My mind was clear, I took a deep breath and fired. Time froze what seemed like for a million years as the arrow spirals threw the air towards this amazing creature. Just like that my arrow hits its destination. At sixteen I harvested a 400 pound Saskatchewan black bear, I found my passion. I was born September 15, 1999 but I started living June 17, 2016. I followed my arrow, I took the chance. My reward was much more than just that amazing bear. My reward was the finding the rhythm of my own drum. On that day with my bow in my hand, my colorful heart surpassed the ordinary 60- 100 beats per minute. I started living