Wednesday August 31 started out like any other typical day, the alarm clock went off, I heard the grumble of Ryan's voice, I pulled the covers up a little higher and soaked in those last few minutes of sleep from the snooze button. We slept with the windows open that night and with a forecast of cooler temperatures that day I dreaded getting out of our warm bed, but I knew those bears wouldn't hunt themselves. I had a feeling about today, and even told Ryan on the second day of our trip that we wouldn't get our bear until Wednesday. We ate breakfast, threw on our Sitka gear, grabbed the popcorn from Patti and headed out to Creepy Hollow. There we sat in the cool weather eagerly awaiting the arrival of our bear. Before we knew it time had gone by and our grumbling stomachs were the only two hungry bears in the woods. We headed back to camp with the unfortunate news of no bears.
We gave ourselves a longer break for lunch that day and decided not to head out until 4. We arrived back in Creepy Hollow with the excitement that the popcorn we put out that morning was still there. I filled the bait box with Patti's bear food and we got nestled into our stand for another four hour sit. To pass the time I started playing my word find game on my phone. Now all of you may laugh and say typical blonde playing games on her phone, but every hunter out there knows to pass the time you are either playing games, checking social media or taking a nap while waiting for that animal to come into your sites. You reading this, if you're a hunter, you know you have done one of the above while hunting, so no judgment. I remember being hunched over, feeling cold and thinking to myself how good at sitting still I was getting to be. Sitting for bears was prepping me for deer season. For those who know me best they know I'm a mover, I like to be active and sitting still for that many hours isn't the easiest thing for me to do. All of a sudden I heard Ryan whisper with exuberance, " Lauren there is a bear coming in give me your phone!" I looked up and my heart started pounding, there was a black bear 20 yards from me. I initially said to Ryan its the smaller one, should I shoot it and he said yes!
We watched the bear come in and he started eating the popcorn. Ryan persistently kept telling me to stand up and draw my bow back. I stood up and my finger accidentally slipped off of my release and that bear heard the small faint click sound that it made. Luckily the bear didn't see us and he continued on eating the popcorn. I knew I had to be patient and wait for that perfect shot, let the bear get inside the box and wait for him to stand up and extend his leg out. I had my bow drawn back and the bear still wouldn't give me a good shot. Ryan kept say, SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT, SHOOT IT! All I wanted to say to Ryan was SHUT UP!! I was getting so frustrated with him because he was so excited and not staying calm. Finally the bear gave me a better shot. I remember feeling this calmness come over me. I was trying to zone out everything except me and that bear. I remember feeling the kisser on my lips, I felt the tension between my shoulder blades, I kept my shoulders relaxed trying not to wiggle as best I could. I took some deep breaths and looked straight past my pin right at the bear and let that arrow fly. It struck the bear and he jumped up and ran up a tree that was close by and then eventually ran into the woods and we heard him crash. I sat back down and immediately told Ryan you need to calm down! He was shaking so bad! My type A personality kicked in and my initial thought was I hit him to low and to far back, I wasn't patient enough, I should have waited for a better shot. I was so concerned about not hitting him in the heart that it hadn't really sunk in that I actually accomplished my goal of getting a bear with my bow. We waited fifteen minutes before I headed back to camp to go get Jon. During that time we kept replaying the video Ryan took, and we waited for the death moan. I heard to groans but not a typical death moan. Ryan's excitement was a little to much and the video he took was unfortunately not the greatest, especially after I shot the bear. I headed the 6 miles back to camp and found Patti. Umm Patti, I got a bear. That woman didn't skip a beat and gave me the worlds biggest hug. I explained to her how I'm not yet excited because I was so concerned about the shot, she told me not to worry and to get excited, my first bear! Jon saw our pick up, came over and looked at me, well..... Yes he said! I put all the gear in the truck this morning, I'll grab the guys and we will be ten minutes behind you, lets go get your bear! I took off in the truck and it started to sink in, this actually happened. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes with joy and I couldn't get back to Ryan fast enough. I actually was so excited I drove right past the entrance to where our stand was.
I arrived back to Creepy Hollow to find Ryan still shaking and adrenaline still pumping. The guys showed up, all smiles and giddy with excitement to track the bear. Steve and Doug whipped out their small flash lights and started tracking the blood trail, I followed behind eagerly awaiting to see my bear, soaking in this whole moment. The blood trail kept getting heavier and heavier and all of a sudden I hear Steve say, theres your bear! He dropped less the forty yards. Jon got up to him and rolled him over for me. I just stood there looking at this beautiful creature. Steve asked me if it was my first bear and I said this is my first animal harvest ever! He embraced me with the biggest hug and at that moment I could see how excited he was for me and how proud he was of me. It literally felt like my own father giving me a hug. I felt the tears well up in my eyes and the water works started to flow. Jon looked at me smiled and I said this is just the most awesome experience ever! I went and sat behind my bear and we took some photos and then loaded the bear in the sled to be pulled out of the woods. For just meeting Jon, Steve and Doug a few days prior and not knowing much about them, this moment made them go from people we just me, to life long friends. A moment that I felt like bonded us together and in such a unique way. A moment I will never forget! We got Ryan out of the stand and he gave me a big hug and said of how proud he was of me. This moment was even more awesome because I got to share it with Ryan! I never thought I would be able to hunt from a tree stand with Ryan next me and Jon and Patti made that possible for us. A gift that will forever be cherished!
Before we left that afternoon I grabbed my Sitka vest my friend/mentor gave me. I thought to myself this vest is going to bring me luck and pass on his mad hunting skills to me and it sure did! He was the first person I wanted to share my good news with because I knew he would be the most excited for me! As a hunter you will always remember your first harvest, you remember every detail, every feeling and to be able to share this type of news with someone who understands completely is extra special! We headed back to camp, weighed Mr. Bear, he came in at 155 pounds. Not the biggest but I'll take it! Took some more photos and got ready to start the process of gutting him. I told Jon and Patti right off the bat if I got a bear I want to learn as much as I can and be able to gut him myself if they were willing to teach me. So I did! I won't got into depth on that part but with their guidance we got it done. Jon by my side guiding me step by step, Patti holding the light, taking photos and Ryan, Steve and Doug watching over while enjoying beers and whiskeys! I didn't have a perfect shot in the heart but I got the liver. Almost a complete pass through, as you will see in the photos my arrow changed direction and came out his back hind leg, the only thing holding my arrow in was the fletching. We finished and it was time to celebrate. We sat at Steve and Penny's campfire with the whole crew and we listened to them tell us hunting stories, it was the perfect way to end a perfect day!
Ryan and I sat one more day to see if he could tag out and unfortunately he didn't. We skinned the bear and quartered the meat the next evening. Friday morning came and in true Minnesota fashion we had our long Minnesota goodbyes. The whole group came out to see us off. I became so emotional as I hugged Patti, the tears streamed down my face and my heart was so sad on having to leave this place, these people that made such an impact on my life, on Ryan's life. We left down that bumpy road and I held Ryan's hand and just thanked him for this amazing experience. We'd be back and already have plans to go back next year unless something drastically changes in our life. So with the long trek back to Minnesota, bear in the Yeti and a plan to stop at Betty's Pies for dinner, we couldn't wait to get back in the land of cell service to be able to tell our family and friends.
So Theodore aka Ted was harvested on Wednesday August 31, 2016 at 6:37 pm, a boar weighing 155lb.