By: Bryan Alexander Oram
As I stir from my slumber, my eyes search the room through impenetrable darkness. Any attempt at moving now would only allow the chilly night air to slither its way down the crevasses of my sleeping bag, so I lay motionless and listen. I listen to the wind as it howls outside the window, to the creaking of the cabin floorboards, and finally to the faint crackling of the dry juniper from the Acorn Ranger.
As my eyes begin to adjust, I can see the January frost on my side of the pane coming into focus. The biting wind seems to come in gusts and with each ominous gesture there is then some resolve. A moment of silence, only to be shattered by the shrilling sound of the iPhone alarm…. 4:30 a.m. – time to get up.
There’s just something about your feet hitting the cold winter floor that immediately brings more awareness to your situation, like a shot of espresso without ever taking a sip. I shuffle my way out the hall and into the kitchen. My fingernails convey a dull ache as I scratch away the window frost and peer out across the moonlit island point. There, some 100 yards due east, I can see a faint glow through a tiny cabin window. The boys are up.
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.”