Well now at much closer over the hill to my 51st birthday than my 50th, I am at it again. I am preparing for an event of a lifetime. At the end of this month I will take my son Brendan hunting in the Maine woods. We will be hoping to bag a black bear. This is not something I really ever gave to much thought to in the past. While not against bear hunting, I was never tempted all that much to hunt for one. That changed recently pretty much on a whim, and because of a desire to do something special with Brendan before he goes back to school this fall. We have taken a yearly road trip, for the past few years, each summer. Sometimes we have gone fishing, other times looking for herps, other times canoeing - but every time it has been a get-away from the urban of NYC where I work, and quasi urban sprawl of Long Island where we live.
A few years back it was on one such road trip when Brendan caught his first brown trout, one of about 20 or 22 inches. That was some impressive fish, and it was an even more impressive smile on his face after he landed it.
His first hunt was for gray squirrels about three years ago, only saw one squirrel, got a shot but missed - yet he was as happy as had he been a hunter who bagged the limit for the day. We have not hunted much, but have gone out once or twice since then, so as you can imagine a hunt for bear should be a hunt he will remember for a lifetime. It sure will be one I will not forget, nor will I forget all the preparations I have been making due to my spur of a moment decision to go on this hunt.
I was amazed I could even get reservations with a guide service. I figured for sure that all of them would have been booked well in advance. I was pretty much right on with that assumption, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I was called by an outfitter who had a cancellation. As a matter of fact, 2 outfitters called me telling me they had people who changed plans, so there were available slots for Brendan and I. It was tough choosing between the two, but I finally opted for the one with an additional day's hunt for only $50 more. This will be one of those deals where all room and board is included in the package, as is a guide, cleaning of the kill and p[reparation of the meat(if Brendan gets lucky) and so forth. You may have noticed I just said if Brendan gets lucky. Well, as much as I would like to hunt, I could not afford the additional cost of both of us actually hunting, it is much less expensive if I go along as an observer non-hunter, so I will be at his side but not hunting. Anyhow, if he bags a bear, that will be more than enough meat to last for quite a awhile and I don't think we have enough room in the house for 2 bear skin rugs. I am not primarily a trophy hunter, we will eat this critter if he gets one, but nor do I want to waste anything, so if he gets lucky we will also make a rug of the bear skin.
Regardless of me not being able to hunt, I can only imagine this will be a great deal of fun for us, and a great life experience for both of us. Just my giving in to the whim to go on this hunt and actually spend the money is a change for me, all of my hunts are usually pretty much low budget affairs. Of course I am sticking a bit to my old ways and not hunting myself, keeping it within reason price wise, but for me to shell out for this without first doing a year or two of research on the guide services who are available is a major breakthrough for Mr. procrastination himself (that being me). Once I made the decision, I had to start to get ready, and that includes making sure Brendan is prepared for the shot of a lifetime.
Along those lines we have been going to the range at least once a week for the past few weeks. he was already an okay shot with small caliber rifles, but just started shooting my Remington 870 in 12 gauge, my marlin 336 in .35 Remington, and my Mosan Nagant in 7.62x54R. All decent sized calibers for Black Bear for sure. He has had many a day with a sore and bruised shoulder, but his enthusiasm keeps him shooting and learning how to shoot better, well under my instruction anyhow. That is where about 14 years of collateral duties as a firearms instructor on my job came in handy for this hunt. He shot a one hole group at 50 yards last weekend, that with the Remington 870 with regular 2 3/4 inch slugs. His best group was 1 3/8 inches, I was impressed when I realized he had shot better than me. That was with open sights too!
There are and were lots of other preparations, such as: contacting about 20 guides, picking the guide, buying Brendan a camo outfit/rain gear, getting a scope for the marlin (which has proven to be a pain because it has to be somewhat low budget since at this point I have little money because of the cost of the trip), and so on. I am also trying to get Brendan ready for this knowledge wise about bears. As far as safety goes he is there already, but I still pound that into him each time we shoot. I suppose I also have to make sure the car is ready for the trip.
Brendan's anticipation is up there along with mine, but maybe not quite as high if only because he is not the one taking his son hunting on the hunt of a lifetime - I don't think he realizes yet that this is what this hunt is going to be for me! I can't wait till we leave, August 26. I keep you all posted.
If you want more info about our plans, you can find them at the forums at The other Side of Kim at: , and at . That second thread also has some pics of Brendan's targets. Hopefully when he sees the bear, he will shoot half as straight as he does at the range.
If you want more info about our plans, you can find them at the forums at The other Side of Kim at:
All the best,