The New Brunswick black bear season is over now and it was a memorable one for Ken and I. We had some huge bears at our baits. I think that's what surprised me the most this year was the number of large females that were hitting our baits.We had three different females that were well over 300 lbs. and there were some nice boars hanging around with the sows waiting for breeding rights after the yearlings were chased away. Ken told me he wanted to kill one more bear and he wanted it to be a big one. I told him to go ahead and take one if he wanted one of the big boars that I knew were hitting some of the baits. He told me one of the baits he was tending had around a dozen different bears coming in and there were a couple of old smashers in the mix.
We have found that when you have a lot of different bears coming to a bait,the bears can get quite competitive when trying to get to the bait first. The bears at this bait that Ken was going to hunt were sticking very close to the bait and Ken couldn't get near it without running into bears when taking in the bait. They were all over the road leading in to the bait and many times we had to chase them out of the way when re-baiting. Ken figured this hunt was going to be a cake-walk but even the best of plans sometimes go awry. He asked if I wanted to sit with him one evening to see if one of the big boars would come in. We knew the big sows would be there because they rarely left the immediate area of the baits. Ken decided to sit in a ground blind because I was with him and we barely got sitting when the first sow came out with a yearling cub. She was a good size but the next female that came out was well over 300 lbs. A younger boar came in next and Ken and I were just sitting back and watching the show when I looked down the road towards the bait and noticed the old sow and and the yearling were on high alert and looking off into the bush. Ken was fiddling with his scope when all of a sudden the two bears that were on the bait suddenly lit out for cover away from the bait. Now Ken and I were set up about 100 yards from the bait because we were on the ground and didn't want to be set up too close but just moments later out pops a BIG black head out of the bush between us and the bait and as soon as that bear came out he turned away from the bait and started up the road towards us walking all pidgeon-toed and tossing his head back and forth trying to wind us. As he kept coming I noticed the angle was bad for Ken and he was shifting around trying to keep on the bear as it slowly worked its way towards us. Remember now,we're sitting in a ground blind and this huge boar is still coming at fifty yards,tossing his head trying to get the wind. Now Ken is starting to take deep breaths while trying to contort his body into a position to take the shot. Suddenly, the big boar spun broadside and looked as if he was going to bolt and just then Kenny's shot rang out. With eyes as big as silver dollars,Ken said 'Listen for his moan!' I grinned to myself and told Kenny 'Don't bother. You never touched him!' Kens jaw dropped and he said 'No Way!' I replied 'Yup,you found a way!' Poor old Kenny was flabergasted! After checking for sign and not finding any, Ken was still in a state of disbelief. 'I'm checking my gun to see if it got knocked out'. He then proceeded to center punch a target at the same distance he missed the bear. Not good. Ken just couldn't figure out how he missed but to the observer, it was quite evident he rushed the shot and, combined with the jitters he had,he overshot the big bear. Now Ken was angry and he wasn't going to let the situation stand like that for very long. He said he would hunt out of the tree stand at the bait and a couple of days later he took a nice New Brunswick black bear and redeemed himself. Normally I wouldn't tell a story like that but Ken is good natured about things such as that. I guess I just wanted to try and convey the excitement that goes along with having close encounters with trophy black bears. If a vetern guide such as Ken, who has run sixty baits himself for an outfitter in White River, Ontario, can get the fever then I would say just about anyone can. The size, strength and speed of a trophy sized bear is astounding. The following pictures show the bear Ken took.