Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Lady and the Bear

Bear Season is right around the corner. I have never hunted for bear, and I don’t really have a desire to, but a friend of mine told me a bear-hunting story I will never forget. I wrote this story based on what she told me. I hope you enjoy it. 

Chris grew up hunting and fishing. Her Parents and Grandparents taught her at a very early age and it has always been a huge part of her life. As each season passed, she looked forward to the possibilities that would follow, whether it is the opening day of fishing season, or the start of the next hunting session. Bear season was no exception.

It was fall of 1970 and opening day of bear season. Her usual hunting partner was her husband Darrell, and they both looked forward to the possibility of tagging a bear.  They planned to hunt the land near Chris’s Grandfathers camp near Conover, WI. Back in those days, there was not a limited number of bear tags sold, so the opportunity to hunt bear was there if you wanted it. 

They left at sunrise and decided to go to a nearby old railroad grade.  It was rumored that bears had been sighted in that area. The morning was cool, and just like every other day of hunting, Chris was excited. The feeling that the possibility of something exciting could happen at any moment hung in the air like the morning dew. They didn’t speak as they started on their way, but Chris knew Darrell was as excited as she was. 

The railroad grade was somewhat elevated over the land around it and they could see a good distance ahead. The colors had started to change, and bits of yellow and red were overtaking the green landscape.  As they walked, they were able to scan both sides of the tracks, looking for the black fur of a bear.  They hoped the scent of fall would turn into smell of bear. Often times, the first clue a bear is present is the awful pungent sour smell that precedes them. 

As the morning continued, the sun came out and it started getting warm. As they carried their jackets, it seemed the longer they walked, the more the excitement drained away. The possibility of success waned as the sun rose high in the sky.  Disappointed, they turned around and started walking back to the truck.

While walking back, Chris started to hear running water. She came upon a stream that crossed under the tracks and meandered around a corner. They were both surprised they didn’t notice it when they walked by the first time. They decided to explore and followed the stream for a short ways.  From above, Chris looked down into the water and sure enough, she saw a few nice trout. The disappointment of not seeing a bear was quickly replaced with the possibility of catching a fish. Fishing gear was always in the truck and Darrell offered to walk back to the car to get the rods. He left, and Chris found a place along the bank to wait for him to return.

Chris sat there in the quiet with only the noise of bubbling stream gently rolling over the rocks.  She put her gun down next to her and took her boots off, rolled up her pants and put her feet in the cool water.  She looked up stream to the hole she saw the trout in. The rocks made the water pool, and she sat there assessing where she would make her first cast. She laid back and relaxed feeling the warm sun on her face and the cool water on her feet. The thought of fresh trout came to mind while wondering what the dinner plans would be. It felt good to rest, and soon she started dozing off. 

KaBOOM. A single shot rang out. Startled, Chris sat straight up and looked around. It sounded close and it did not come from the direction Darrell had walked. She froze there for a moment not wanting to make any noise.  She quietly picked up her gun not knowing what was going on. Suddenly the sound of branches snapping and something crashing was coming through the woods right towards her. The sounds came closer and a second later, a large black bear came charging out of the woods right into the river. The huge animal was directly in front her where she was sitting with her bare feet in the water. She raised her gun and fired off three quick shots with her .30 - 06, bang bang bang. The large black mass dropped in a heap right in the river, directly in front of her. 

Chris sat there in a daze.  “ What just happened” Chris thought. She felt like she was in a state of shock, in total disbelief of what just happened. Her heart was pounding as she stared at the bear. Still not wanting to put the gun down, she slowly stood up.  She watched the bear looking for any signs of movement. She didn’t want to be caught without her gun ready to go if the bear was not dead.  As it lay there in the water, it was less that 10 feet from her. 

Within minutes, Chris heard more crashing thru the woods, but this time she heard voices. Again she knew it wasn’t Darrell, as it was coming from the same direction of the bear. She stepped back out of the water, still holding the gun, just as two men came out of the woods right behind the where the bear laid dead. 

One of the men was younger, and bounded through the trees first.  The second man was older and both looked out of breath. The younger guy yelled, “That’s our bear, we just shot it! Chris replied, “the hell it is, I just killed it! ” The moment was tense. Chris wondered how long before Darrell would return and was thankful she still had the gun in her hands. Both men were holding guns, and neither looked too happy. The younger man seemed more angry and shouted, “we shot it first Lady!” Chris paused for a minute and then said, ”Well, its not my fault you winged it, I shot it dead.” 

There was a pause and for a minute Chris didn’t know how this was going to turn out. As she stood there barefoot, she felt even more vulnerable; being out numbered two to one. She didn’t want to back down, she knew it was rightfully hers, but she did not want it to get ugly. She was on one side of the river and the two men stood on the other side, the bear was right in the middle. Time just seemed to stand still and nobody spoke.

Soon she heard Darrell come running towards the river from up on the tracks. He tore through the woods and when she looked at him, she saw a look of terror in his face. He heard the shot when he was walking back with the fishing rods, and couldn’t imagine what had happened. He thought Chris may have shot a bear but when he heard the man’s louder voice, he didn’t know what to think.

Once Darrell was present, things seemed to calm down. Chris told Darrell what happened and before long the two hunters agreed that the bear belonged to Chris. They even helped drag the bear up the hill to the railroad grade so Chris and Darrell could drag it back to the truck. Dragging the bear back to the truck was a chore. By the time they got it loaded and got back to camp, it was nearly dark.

When they got back to camp, Chris told the story again and again. The Parents and Grandparents couldn’t believe that had happened.  They laughed and celebrated the successful hunt that came with a bonus of a good story. The other two men must have went back to their camp, and I can only imagine what story they had to tell.

40 years later, Chris is still an avid hunter and angler. She mentors younger women and loves the great outdoors. Unfortunately, there were not photos of the bear she shot.

Chris and her hunting dog Sofie
Chris and her big Tom Turkey


  1. Great story, Chris is definitely amazing. I am blessed to know her and call her my friend.

  2. Great Story,People wonder why we hunt and fish. it's about the memories and adventure shared by Friends and Family, That lasts as long as the Story is Told!!!

  3. Great Story,People wonder why we hunt and fish. it's about the memories and adventure shared by Friends and Family, That lasts as long as the Story is Told!!!