Sierra’s First Bear Hunt
By Sterling Scott
Over the years, the Scott Family has enjoyed many outdoor adventures. I’ve written about some crazy fishing outings, hilarious duck hunting experiences, wild turkey hunting and amazing deer hunting situations involving huge wasp nests and squirrels in the box blind. Our latest excursion took Sierra and me to Canada on a wonderful, exciting bear hunt.
For years, Sierra has been saying that all she wanted was a bear hunt for her senior year. Not knowing a darn thing about bear hunting other than the fact that this would be the first animal we would hunt that could actually eat us, I hoped it would pass. It didn’t. Actually, it only intensified as her senior year rolled on in. So being the appeasing dad that I am, I checked with a huge hunting friend of mine, found the best bear hunting outfitter in existence, and booked a bear hunt to Northern Alberta, Canada.
We landed in Edmonton, Canada, rented a car and drove three hours north. We arrived at a beautiful log-home where our outfitters, John and Jenn Rivet, live. What an amazing Christian couple and family. They hunt and guide for bears, elk and moose.
We arrived on Tuesday evening, and Jenn greeted us with an amazing dinner of moose and elk. When they told us that Sierra was sitting in the same dinner chair that Luke Bryan sat in last year on his bear hunt, I was worried that my daughter might not be coming back to the States with me at the end of the week. Dinner was amazing, as were all of the meals for the week. By the end of it, I was wondering if I was even going to make it back to the States, too.
So off we go to bear hunt on Wednesday. I immediately took a liking to bear hunting when I learned that bears sleep most of the day, and start moving in the late afternoon and through the night. That meant that we got to sleep in, eat a huge breakfast, relax and chat around the house for a while. We headed for the “bush” at about 2:00 in order to be in the stand around 4:00, and hunted till 8:00. That beat the heck out of heading to the deer-stand around 4:00 a.m. when it is freezing cold, only to start running squirrels and wasps out of a dark box blind.
We bear-hunted Wednesday and Thursday, and saw 16 bears and a moose. Most of the bears were female, which meant that we would not shoot them because they were either pregnant or had cubs. They were amazing to watch as they came into our area and ate, played and climbed trees. Every time a bear would come in, my heart would race. They would be 10-15 yards away, and although I was in a treestand, my knees would shake. I would look at Sierra, and I don’t think she was nervous at all.
Friday was our last day to hunt, and I was praying hard that Sierra would get a bear. Unfortunately it was raining. We all knew that was going to make things difficult. The bears were not moving, and we saw no bears all evening. At about 7:45, Jenn spotted a bear behind us, and quietly whispered, “It’s Brownie.” We were hunting black bears, and the trail camera that periodically took pictures captured a big, beautiful chocolate-colored black bear that had been coming into this area the last few days, and this was the bear we were hoping for.
“Big Brownie” knew we were there. He was very cautious as he slowly made his way in. Unfortunately, it was getting darker by the second as he made his approach. Finally at about 8:00, the big bear was broadside to us at 12 yards. Sierra slowly stood, drew back her bow and took aim. I was shaking like a belly dancer, and Sierra was—amazingly—solid as a rock. Then all of a sudden, she drew down and said it was too dark, and she just couldn’t see well enough to get a good shot. The bear had become a big, dark silhouette against the vast, black forest in the background. Seeing the bear was hard enough, but seeing it through the site on her bow, and seeing the exact precise spot to place the arrow, was virtually impossible.
Later that evening we packed and started our three-hour journey back toward the airport. As we talked, I was thankful that Sierra had an absolute blast, and although she was a little disappointed that she didn’t get a bear, it certainly didn’t ruin her trip. At 2:00 a.m. she was exhausted and fell asleep. As we drove it hit me: This wonderful trip wasn’t just a bear hunt at all. As tears came to my eyes, I realized that this trip was when Sierra proved to her dad, and a whole lot of other people, that she had become an elite hunter. Most hunters probably would have taken that shot, and most likely just injured a bear. Sierra proved on this trip that by the age of 17, she had developed a respect and an appreciation for wildlife and the outdoors that most people never obtain. Even if Big Brownie had come home with us, I couldn’t have been more proud of Sierra after this trip. She brought home a trophy much greater than a bear!