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October 26, 2012

Bears always look bigger in the woods

The Daily Star

---- — A young friend of ours missed a nice black bear with his bow the other day. His story got me thinking of other bear tales.

When I moved to the Adirondacks, I went hunting with a bunch of teachers on Veteran’s Day that fall.

We hiked in a couple of miles and put a deer drive down the backside of Black Mountain. No one saw anything, so we continued.

On the next push, one of the guys shot a big bear. It was nice to have a successful hunt, but getting the bear out to our truck ended the hunting that day. Shooting is the easy part. After that, the real work begins.

Cole’s bear dressed out at more than 300 pounds. It’s not like dragging a big buck with large antlers. A bear that size is like having 300 pounds of Jell-O, without the bowl.

Some of you may think that maybe we could have tied him to a pole and carried him out. That didn’t work, either.

The suspended bear would get swinging

back-and-forth, throwing ev@Body Copy Ragged:eryone off-balance and … well trust me, trying to carry the overly heavy pole on rough, uneven, often-steep and slippery ground is a dangerous and often painful experience.

It was about nine in the morning when we started for the road with that bear. When we finally arrived, it was after dark.

We pulled and tugged for many hours as the bear rolled around, catching on everything you could imagine: sticks, branches, rocks, logs, etc. That created an obstacle course through forest and swamp. I vowed right then that I’d never shoot one of those creatures if I wasn’t in eyesight of the truck.

A few years ago, a bunch of us went to northern Maine on a bear hunt. The guide took us out and showed us his many baits. That evening, we all hid quietly in our stands and waited for the bears to come in and feed. The bait barrels were loaded with rotten meat, donuts and anything else some hungry bear might find delicious.

The very first afternoon, our friend Bob shoots his first bear. He had been sitting in a blind for a couple of hours waiting when the bear came in for dinner. As the bear stuck his head in the barrel, Bob shot. The bear dropped immediately, so Bob walked to the road and waited for the guide to come back.

When we got back to camp, Bob was really excited.

“I shot a huge bear. It filled the entire barrel!” he exclaimed.

We all loaded into the trucks to go get Bob’s bear.

As we walked into the bait site, Tom – a tall, lanky cop from New Hampshire – headed right to the barrel. He lifted Bob’s bear with one hand and slung it over his shoulder.

“You call this a bear?” he asked.

Yeah, he filled the barrel, but it wasn’t a 55-gallon barrel. That was the only place that used a small, 30-pound grease drum for bait.

We picked on Bob for several days. Being a taxidermist at the time, my wife asked him if he wanted her to make a left or a right mitten from its hide.

Bob redeemed himself the following year, when he took a 500-pounder in Canada.

But even a small bear looks big in the woods.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at