By: Cal Stearns (Age 11)
I never thought that it would happen to me! Cal Stearns, drawing a Michigan black bear tag. Who knew, right? I drew a third hunt tag for a place in the Upper Peninsula called Baraga, Michigan. Luckily, my dad had a friend in Baraga that he was in the Army with that offered to help me hunt a bear.
The day we got to Byran’s house, we got right to work and checked all the baits. On the last bait site, we had a hit so we decided we would hunt there that evening. From the sign we saw, the bear hitting that bait was no small animal.
We headed to the ground blind about two o’clock in the afternoon and settled in for the long evening ahead. I was using my dad’s .280AI rifle for this hunt. We sat in the blind for a while, then we heard a noise by the bait, then another noise. The birds were feeding on the bait. They startled me for the rest of that evening. Unfortunately, birds were the only thing hitting the bait that hunt.
The next day we were going to a different place where there had been three mature bears coming to the bait every day. Byran was pretty confident that we would see the bears which got me really excited. I was ready to throw lead. I would not hesitate to shoot any legal bear that stepped out. But that evening we did not see a single thing.
By the third day, I was sick of waiting and seeing nothing. Now I was totally ready to shoot a bear. We were in the same spot as the day before.
It was 75 degrees and a full moon, so it was not the best conditions and it was the last day we could hunt before going back to school. So I was really hoping we could see one.
We got in the ground blind and got set up. I looked out the window opening no more than five- minutes into the hunt and there stood not only a bear, but THREE bears! Two were very nice, but one was HUGE! Without moving a muscle, I said, “there’s a bear!”. Dad thought I was kidding, but when he looked out his eyes were the size of the Earth! It happened so fast we had not loaded the rifle yet, so while I was shaking like sizzling bacon my dad loaded the gun and set it up on shooting sticks. As the biggest one stepped onto the bait, I put the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. I did not see what happened. I asked “did I hit it?” and my dad said, “yes, you smoked him!” Then I lost all control over my emotions when I heard the death moan. I had butterflies the size of Texas in my stomach. I told my dad I wanted to go recover it, but I was told we had to wait 30 minutes, that lasted only 10. The bear was huge, like two of me. It could have eaten me in one gulp!
After hundreds of photos and high fives, we packed it up and were on our way home. I could not wait to tell mom and the whole family. But before we got too far I had to ask, “Dad, can we put in for another bear tag?”