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Hair-Raising Bear Encounters

There's nothing quite like bear hunting from the ground!

Hair-Raising Bear Encounters

Sherry Lee Shesky (left) and Cody Robbins show off the large bruin Shesky took one night after the pair was sitting on the ground in a "bear cage," only three feet from a large boar that was charged multiple times by a sow with cubs. It was an exhilarating experience they’ll never forget!

Let me start this column by asking, “Have you ever hunted bears before? Have you ever experienced that mindset that hunting a bear brings?” If you haven’t, I assure you it’s a whole other experience.

I’m a black-bear outfitter in Saskatchewan, and one of my favorite things about it is the mental journey our guests go on the first day of their hunt, especially if they’re first-time bear hunters. I find it similar to someone getting ready to skydive for the first time. They’re either really quiet and uptight, or they’re giddy with excitement.

Most bear hunters and outfitters set up for their hunts with treestands, which is a good way to do it. A treestand gives you the best visibility, and it definitely keeps you up out of the chaos if you’re lucky enough to have high bear numbers in the area you’re hunting.

I enjoy hunting bruins from a tree, but when I have the choice, I’d rather set up on the ground. To me, there are more benefits to being at eye level. Most importantly, I think bears are easier to judge when you’re looking at them on level ground.

Next on the list of reasons to hunt from the ground is I’ve had much better luck with lethal shots when your arrow is flying level to the bear, as opposed to traveling at a steep angle.

Lastly, it’s way more exciting when you’re down there on the ground with them. Imagine sitting in your chair on the forest floor, within 30 yards of six bears at one time. They’re popping their jaws, woofing and even fighting, all within a stone’s throw of you. It’s wild!

Bears aren’t the monsters people make them out to be. They’re awesome creatures that have a great respect for humans, for the most part. But at the end of the day, the fact is they can still kill you. That last tidbit, partnered with my desire to have our guests hunt on the ground to reap all the benefits of being at eye level, is why we built “bear cages.”

A bear cage is essentially the same thing as a shark cage. We're trying to keep our guests safe by keeping bears out. This allows them to enjoy being on the forest floor amid the bears, with the peace of mind that they're not in danger. Mentally, it’s huge! Your adrenaline isn’t trumped by fear. It’s like going to a scary movie with the sound cranked up, but with the confidence you’re going home unscathed.

A hunt that will always stand out for me is one I shared with Sherry Lee Shesky. Sherry was my very first guest at L2H Outfitting Co. I actually sat in the cage with her and filmed her hunt for our show. We had bears all over us. A sow came in with three cubs. Then a big, mature boar snuck up behind the cage we were hiding in. He knew we were there and didn’t care — he was more afraid of that sow than anything.

That boar sat down behind us, within three feet of our heads. When he peeked around the side of the blind to get a look at the sow, she charged him. Think about that — she charged him, and he was sitting with us!

Over the course of an hour, the sow charged that boar five times as he was hiding behind us. It was an experience that I will never forget, and I’m sure Sherry won’t either.

The second evening, we went to a different stand and Sherry shot a giant bear with her bow. It was magical! Once again, we lived through all the exciting emotions the bear-hunting journey will take you on.

Recommended


If you’ve never hunted bears from the ground, or bears at all, you need to make some plans. The bear woods is the only place you’ll find me on the cool evenings of June!




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