The Bucket List Bear

By Sarah Weaver

It started six years ago when I decided that I wanted nothing more than to take a black bear with my bow. I mentioned to my husband Zach that I wanted to book a hunt in Canada. He was all for the idea, and the following January, we secured a spring hunt in Saskatchewan.

My elation slowly turned to disappointment after each passing day that week without a bear sighting. By the time we left, I hadn’t laid eyes on a single bear. Talk about slightly defeated. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet.

Three years later, we headed to Quebec for another spring bear hunt. Not only did I see plenty, but I even made what I thought was a good shot on one. Unfortunately, we were never able to recover it. All of the practicing and time I had put in over the years seemed as if it was for nothing. And to make matters worse, I was very upset with myself for possibly only wounding the animal.

I started to feel that maybe a black bear wasn’t in the cards for me - until we met John and Jenn Rivet. The Rivets run an outfitting operation in Canada with their family, and are all faithful shooters of Wasp broadheads. They urged us to come to Alberta to hunt black bear. While I was excited at the thought of hunting with them, I just kept thinking: Can I be successful on a black bear hunt?

We packed our bags in May 2017 and headed to Alberta to see John and Jenn. We started with a run and then bow practice to make sure our gear was still in working order - by that point, I had been preparing for months. We dined in style with moose steaks in camp and then headed out to hunt for the evening. Our theme of the hunt was “girl power,” and I was the only female hunter trying to fill a tag in camp, so I hunted with Jenn. Zach tagged along to capture video.

In the first hour that evening, we saw two bears, but no shooters. Off in the distance, we could make out a black bear that just wouldn’t commit to coming in. Jenn leaned over and said, “That has to be a boar, see how he’s just acting curious, but not committing to come in.”

The author had several close encounters with black bears while hunting from a ground blind.
The author had several close encounters with black bears while hunting from a ground blind. 

Around 9:30 p.m. (the sun sets late there), he decided to make a pass in front of us. I drew back, but I didn’t have a good shot. Instead, he ran a sow off and then disappeared. He reappeared later, and when I drew back, he again wasn’t broadside. I was able to let down without him noticing. Moments later, he walked right in front of us, broadside at 17 yards. Jenn said, “If he stops and you have a shot, it’s a good bear, shoot him.” I let my arrow fly.  

The bear took off and we thought we heard a crash. Before setting off to search for blood, we replayed the video and it appeared to be a good shot, just maybe a little low. My arrow was covered in good, foamy blood, but there wasn’t a distinct blood trail. Bears have such thick coats in the spring that they just soak up the blood. After looking for about a half hour with no success, we decided to back out for the night -  it was getting dark and a curious young boar was following us around.  

In the morning, we started from the where I had hit the bear and within 20 yards Zach found good blood. We continued to follow the trail and then Zach jumped. There was my bear, within 80 yards of where I had shot him!

My 100-grain Queen broadhead pierced both lungs and sliced through the heart. We will measure his skull once dried with the hopes of this not only being my first bear, but also my first Pope & Young animal. I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally, after years of waiting, practice and frustration, to have taken my first black bear with my bow. Zach was quick to point out that he was no longer my nemesis. I wholeheartedly agreed.

On Friday evening, we got to enjoy the reward of all that hard work with bear stir fry. We also brought home the meat to try out other recipes including bear fajitas. Now, I just need to decide how to pay my respects to this great animal with a possible bear rug or mount.

Sarah's Gear

Bow: Mathews Monster ChillR 27" Draw length - 52lb pull
Broadhead: Wasp Queen 100 grain
Arrows: Carbon Express Mayhem Hot Pursuits
Sight: HHA Optimizer Ultra Sight
Rest: QAD
Optics: TRACT TORIC 8x42 Binoculars

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