- May 20, 2020
If you hang around the neighborhood sporting goods store long enough, you are going to hear plenty of stories – some of them believable, and some not. More often the tales will tend to elevate the hunter as the winner in the description of hunter against quarry, but once in awhile someone relates a story
If you hang around the neighborhood sporting goods store long enough, you are going to hear plenty of stories – some of them believable, and some not. More often the tales will tend to elevate the hunter as the winner in the description of hunter against quarry, but once in awhile someone relates a story that actually is in favor of “the one that got away.” I recently overheard such a tall tale, so hilarious in its outcome, that I had to approach the story teller and ask him to repeat it for my benefit, and I relate it to you now.
The story actually begins in early spring of this year, when Chester (Chester is not his real name, but some of you may know the hunter, so we’ll protect his real identity and just call him “Chester.”) and a few of his hunting buddies created a foodplot on a hilltop that was surrounded by mostly forested habitat. The new site was planted with a mix of clovers, and as the bed of green and lush clover leaves began to flourish, the deer discovered their new feeding area and visited it frequently, as did several small flocks of turkeys. On several visits to the foodplot just after sunrise, one could even see in the early morning dew on the clover, where a bear had crossed the field, stopping occasionally to take a bite or two of the fresh green clover leaves.
Throughout the late summer weeks, Chester would throw out a few apples and several slices of bread smeared with peanut butter to entice the return of the bear, and it seemed to work as the fruit and bread would be consumed during the night. But, no matter what time of day Chester would slip into the foodplot, he never actually saw the bear that he was certain must have been living in the area.
As luck would have it, this year for the first time, black bear was included as legal game during the 3-day Junior-Senior antlerless deer season in October. Since Chester was over 65 years of age and well aware of how tasty bear meat could be when properly cared for and prepared correctly, he was determined to spend the time pursuing this bruin once the season opened.
In Pennsylvania, it is not legal to bait bear or deer, but it is perfectly legal to hunt over a food plot. In anticipation, Chester ceased putting out any apples or peanut butter bread well in advance of the upcoming season, and counted on the lush clover to bring the bear in range during the 3 day hunt. He also, with the aid of his hunting friends, erected an enclosed shooting blind 15 feet above the ground, supported by an interlocking set of legs and supports. This is where Chester planned to spend his time – dawn to dusk – each of the 3 days in hopes of seeing the bear. With only 2 days to go before the opening day, Chester decided to take food and water and stay overnight in the stand so that he would not disturb the area by approaching in the pre-dawn darkness.
Chester arrived at his stand just before dark, parked his ATV right next to the stand, hoisted up his supplies with a safety rope, and arranged his equipment in the blind, settling in for the night. As darkness fell, he sat in his swivel chair, daydreaming about what the morning might bring. Finally, at 9:00 pm, he lay down in the blind, covered himself with blankets and drifted off to sleep.
Forty minutes later, in the total darkness of the night, he was jolted awake, as the stand rocked sharply and a loud bang came from below. What the heck?!?
There was dead silence and the stand stood still. Chester lay awake, wide eyed, wondering what had just happened. There seemed only one possibility – the bear he so wanted to see had visited him and bumped into the stand, just 15 feet below. He listened intently, but there was only total silence. He awoke before daylight, still wondering if it was the bear that had awakened him so suddenly. As light began to filter through the trees, he stained is eyes looking for the bear, or any sign of his presence. As he glanced below the stand, he noticed something odd about the ATV.
Climbing down from the stand, he discovered a large hole ripped out of the foam seat and two paw marks right where he would normally sit when driving the vehicle! The bear had visited him alright, and had left his mark.
Chester laughed when he told the story – what else could he do – as he ended the tale with “It was bear – 1, hunter – 0!” Over the next 3 days, he never saw the bear!