Donna Shaver, member of USA and USW Local 3657
As hunters, we have many stories. My favorite is of a trip to Lake Superior’s Haviland Bay near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to hunt black bear.
Our hunting party included me, my husband, my parents and two friends. It was my first out-of-state hunting excursion, and I only planned to hunt the first few days of the 7-day trip.
When we arrived at the lodge, out guide came walking toward us looking every bit the mountain man. His long red beard matched his long red hair, which was partially covered by a fox hat – tail and all. And he was as big around as a kitchen table leg. He talked to us about hunting “in the bush,” which only meant in the woods, though I thought he was telling us we’d have to use the bush when Mother Nature called.
On the first morning, our guide took me to my stand. It was very humid, and the black flies were swarming, so we had to wear head nets and tape everything together to keep the beasts from getting inside our clothing. I sat there watching and waiting but saw nothing. At the end of the day, I returned to the lodge to learn that my mom had already killed a bear with her bow.
Day two ended the same as day one. By day three, I was becoming more reluctant to continue sitting in the bush with the nagging flies. But then I heard the snap of a branch and eagerly watched as a bear headed in my direction. My excitement got the best of me. I tried with all I had to stop my knees from knocking and heart from racing as I felt the beads of sweat popping out all over my body. I finally got the safety off my .243 rifle, jerked the trigger and boom….a clean miss.
After the excitement on day three, I forgot I was only going to hunt the first few days of the trip, and I continued getting up, taping my clothes and sitting in my primitive treestand, which was nothing more than a board between two small trees. Each day I eagerly waited for another chance.
The morning of our very last day ended with no luck. With dusk approaching, I was thinking that I had screwed up my only chance at a bear. But when I looked to my right, I saw a huge, old black bear heading right for my path. He stood on his hind legs, and my heart dropped. I continued to watch and then realized it was now or never. After reminding myself of my mistakes earlier in the week, I whispered, “be calm…breathe…take deep breaths…release the safety and squeeze the trigger.”
I fired a shot and knew I hit him, as the bear took off through the woods. Then I heard what they call the “death cry.” It was a sound I had never experienced, and it sent chills down my spine. After a couple minutes, it stopped. I patiently waited in my stand until dark when my guide showed up and went to find the bear.
It was the most amazing creature, weighing 350 lbs. I’m very thankful that everyone encouraged me to continue hunting and that I missed the first bear, which was half the size of the one I got. Two chances in one week-stupendous. Of the six hunters, only the two females, my mom and I, killed a bear.