By: Gord Follett
Although he’s held bear licences and been baiting various stands regularly in Northwest Gander for more than a decade, Pete Tucker usually offers friends the first opportunity to reap the rewards of his efforts. I am one of several hunters to have benefitted from such an unselfish act, having harvested a spring bear weighing close to 400 pounds eight or nine years back.
And it wasn’t always a matter of Pete simply jumping on his bike at the cabin, scooting up the nearby hill and rebaiting every second day. No sir. He often drove from his home in Portugal Cove-St. Philips in the afternoon, replenished the bait, got six or seven hours sleep at the cabin and then drove back to work early the next morning – a 10-hour round trip!
Last fall, eager to take his first bruin with a bow and arrow, he did sit in one of his stands and even had a shot at a “nice bear.”
“The shot went a bit high,” he said. “It went in his back about six inches from his vitals and right on through. We searched and searched for that animal in case the shot was fatal, but couldn’t find it. We didn’t know for sure whether he survived or eventually died somewhere far from the stand. When we failed to find it, I was hoping that it wasn’t a serious injury and that he’d be best kind in no time at all. No hunter worth his salt wants to see an animal suffer.”
“He was just sat there on his arse looking towards me for almost 10 minutes!”
These are the moments we live for.
June, 2019; eight months after his shot struck higher than he had intended, Pete is baiting two sites once again, one with a “regular ol’ stand” 25 metres from the barrel and about 10 feet off the ground, and the other “a fancy one with a roof to protect you from the rain and a mesh all around to keep the flies away.”
It was the more elaborate stand that Pete, friend Greg Elms and Greg’s son Zack occupied on the morning of June 7, with the primarily goal being to give young Zachary an opportunity to take his first bear with a bow.
By noon, 4-1/2 hours after first climbing into that stand and without a sign of a bruin, Pete decided to climb down and head back to the cabin to tend to a few chores and perhaps even grab a nap.
“I never woke up until 6 o’clock!” he exclaimed. “I couldn’t believe it!”
He hopped up, strapped a container of bait to his 34-year-old Honda three-wheeler and headed to the “less-than-plush” stand, where he discovered the bait barrel had been dragged into the woods and “cleaned right out.”
While rebaiting, he wondered just how “active” this site was and whether it would be hit again before dark. He decided to sit in the stand alone.
“I didn’t have my bow with me then, so I beat it back to the cabin to get it and then climbed into the stand. I wasn’t there 10 minutes when this big fella came in under the stand and sat down, staring straight up at me. I had my bow hitched in the tree, but I couldn’t move, couldn’t blink. He was just sat there on his arse looking towards me for almost 10 minutes!”
“Weren’t you nervous?” I asked.
“Nope, I just sat there, too, looking back down at him. Then finally he made his way to the barrel and I slowly reached for the bow.”
It wouldn’t be long before the 400-plus-pound boar turned broadside.
“I was at full draw by then, so I let ‘er go. Whump! I knew he was hit good.”
A short time later, Pete climbed down from his perch and headed to the other stand to enlist Greg and Zack in the searching effort.
“We found him about 100 metres in the woods; lung shot,” he reported, adding, “and it was the same one I hit in the spring! We could see the scar from where the three-bladed broadhead hit him. I could see exactly where he was hit last fall and there’s no doubt in my mind it was the same bear.”
As a bonus to this excursion, Zack harvested his first bear with a bow the very next day. And Pete’s generosity wasn’t overlooked by the Elms clan, either.
“Peter is by far the best hunter and one of the most generous people I know,” Greg commented. “Always up for a challenge, he has had a keen interest in bow hunting since my first successful bow hunt with him several years ago. He has welcomed myself and my sons to his cabin and his bear baits on many occasions, allowing us to make some great memories. Now he has bagged his own trophy with bow and arrow and it was a thrill to share the moment with him.”