Junkyard Bear-Tails of the Hunt

10 10 2013

This post was published originally at Ladies in Camo’s website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/09/09/diane-hassinger-junkyard-bear/

Every hunter has their favorite type of hunting; for me it is Black Bear hunting with my crossbow.  I have taken several trophy bear with my Tenpoint, and each hold their place of honor in my memories.  This years bear was no different, well maybe just a little.

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Junkyard and his girlfriend. You can see how bad the rope had cut through the hide. Photo: Diane Hassinger

Dale and I arrived in Deschambault Lake to tales of a huge black bear that had been spotted on cameras,with what appeared to be a rope tangled tightly around his neck.  Our Outfitter Mike Grundmann asked if one of us would be able to target that bear, since his health was declining due to the ever tightening rope.  Dale and I both agreed one of use would focus our attention on him.  Dale started out his hunt looking for him, and for 3 days Junkyard was not seen, even though his big blond girlfriend would come by every evening.  On the 4th day, Dale moved to a new stand, and I moved into the stand to wait on Junkyard.

The weather turned horrible as soon as we left the lodge that evening.  Rain was pelting us, and the trees were swaying.  Not a nice evening to be outside, and definitely not a good night for bear hunting.  Erin was filming me that night, so we got settled into the stand and tried to stay dry.  It wasn’t long before I spotted black circling the area.  I nudged Erin and asked if she could see any better.  See quickly responded “It’s him, it’s the Junkyard Bear”.  As he came closer, I could see the rope swaying as he walked, but as he turned sideways I could also see white flesh where the rope had cut through the hide.  He glanced at the bait barrel, but decided to just move on.  As he walked under my stand, I let loose my bolt, and watched as it hit it’s mark perfectly.   I got a complete pass through with my Swhacker Broadheads.  Junkyard only went 15 yards before he expired.

It didn’t take us long to determine;

1.  We couldn’t move him ourselves and

2.  We were getting soaking wet just standing there.

So we headed back to camp, and to enlist some help moving him.  Dale and Mike returned just minutes after us.  They also had taken a huge bear that night; a 7’6″ behemoth.  So with the 4 of us working together, it took no time to get Junkyard back to the camp, and get dry.

I really feel I was in that stand that night to help Junkyard out of his pain.  I regret that infection made it impossible for us to use any of the meat, but Junkyard will live on in lots of memories and stories.  And because of his big blond girlfriend, his genes will be around for generations to come!

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Junkyard with his embedded rope. I will remember this hunt always!
Photo: Diane Hassinger

 

 

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My First Big Game Animal-How I got started hunting.

10 10 2013

This post originally appeared on Ladies in Camo website at http://ladiesincamo.com/lictoth/2013/05/04/diane-hassinger-my-first-big-game-animal/

Life is not fair!  Or at least that is how it seems to a twelve year old.  Add to that wanting to hunt and fish when neither of your parents enjoys either.  Add to that being a girl in 1972.

I wanted to hunt so badly, I would check out every magazine and book on hunting I could find at our local library.  Outdoor Life and Field and Stream became my educators.  I asked so many dumb questions of anyone who even vaguely knew anything about hunting.  I spent hours weekly riding the deer trails on our horses, observing the patterns of the deer.  I could ride right into a group of deer without them taking too much notice.

It seemed like divine intervention when my friend Cheryl talked her father into taking us for our Hunter Safety Certification.  We had about 30 participants in the course; 28 boys, me and Cheryl.  We took a lot of ribbing from the boys, and even a few of the fathers.  They felt we had no place in a “boys” class.  We didn’t mind, or at least didn’t let on to anyone that it bothered us.  Cheryl’s dad, having 6 daughters, was very supportive of girls being able to hunt.  His support made a huge difference in the tender sensibilities of a teenage girl.  By the end of the course, only 2 students rated a 100% on the test; me and Cheryl.  Instead of the boys being happy for us, they made sure we knew that hunting was a male sport.

I spent my teenage years fishing, hunting small game, riding horses, and high school sports.  I didn’t have the opportunity to do a big game hunt (anything bigger than a turkey) until I married Dale in 1979.  Both of us hunted to feed our growing family, and after the kids got big enough they joined with us.

My first BIG game hunt was for Elk of all things.  I had always enjoyed shooting my bow, but lacked the courage to try to hunt with it.  Finally I gave in to my need to go further with hunting and scheduled a hunt.  To say I was scared is an understatement.  I had studied shot placement till everyone was sick of listening to me question them.  I was shooting my bow hundreds of times a day to build up to a higher poundage.  I have the need to over study and research anything I am doing.  I guess that is my OCD.

Finally the day arrived and we took off on this next chapter of my life.  Dale was and still remains very supportive of me.  So I needed to do this not only for me, but to prove to him his support was not wasted.

I remember climbing into the “tree stand”, which was an old pallet nailed into a Y of a tree.  I had to watch where I placed my feet, for fear of slipping through the slats.  When I think of this now, I have to wonder “What the heck was I thinking!” No harness (no one wore them then), no pull up ropes, you toted everything up on your back, no cell phone, radio or gps (GASP!).  My tree stand was on a well-worn trail on the side of a steep embankment.  I tried to listen to every little noise, and kept glassing, looking for any sign of movement.  I did have a range finder with me, and had ranged several trees and rocks in hopes that I could use them as a range indicator.

Suddenly I hear what sounded like a stampede.  There were several cow elk and a 4X4 bull elk coming into range-fast!  I drew my bow and waited for the 4X4 to get close enough, and shot!  He turned tail and ran back down the hillside.  My guide who was a short distance away, heard the commotion, and headed over to me.  I still don’t know how I got down that rickety wood ladder; my knees were shaking something terrible.

We waited a short while, all the time my guide was asking was it a good shot.  HUH??  I think so, I don’t know, I was so nervous I couldn’t even remember.  Finally he gave up trying to get any useful information out of me, and we started after my bull.  We found him about 60 yards below my stand.  However he was still on his feet, although he was swaying back and forth.  The guide said to stick him again when I had a shot.  I told him I could shoot now.  He said “no you can’t”.  I said I could and released the arrow.  My shot was perfect!  He dropped instantly, of course rolling further down the hill.  “I can’t believe you made that shot” to which I replied “I told you I could”.

diane elk

The bad part of all this was that my elk was now at the very bottom of a very steep incline, and the truck was at the top.  By the time we had it loaded onto the truck, I was exhausted, but still exhilarated!  Later when we butchered the elk, we found that my first shot clipped the heart.  He was dying, just didn’t know it yet.  The second shot was right through the heart and 1 lung.

My 4X4 was mounted and hangs on our living room wall.  He is not a trophy to a lot of hunters, but he is a trophy in the true sense to me.  He was a big part of my confidence in my hunting abilities to be able to go on any hunt that catches my attention.

To this day I feel the pressure to prove myself capable, to prove my abilities, to compete with ghosts of my past.  Now I know I am up to the challenge!

Photo Credit:  Diane Hassinger

Excerpts from Huntingmotherearth.com in Hunter Safety Course 1972  https://huntingmotherearth.com/2012/03/15/hunter-safety-course-1972/





Safari Anticosti

11 02 2012

Diane's velvet 8 point

Anticosti Island has long been a big draw for whitetail hunters.  With only a little over 3000 square miles and more than 160,000 deer freely roaming the island, this island is a hunter’s mecca.

Dale and I had the opportunity to travel there the fall of 2011.  You are limited to only 70 pounds of clothing and gear, which makes packing a bit difficult.  We arrived on the island in a downpour of rain, making us wish our rain gear was on our backs and not in our bags.  We were met by a school bus, and transported to the lodge that would be our home for the next week.  There were 5 other hunter’s besides us, 4 longtime friends and longtime hunters on this island, and a Canadian who was paired with Dale and me.  Martin was extremely easy to get along with and we had a great time together.  Christian was assigned as our guide, which was also a good fit!

The first morning I got to hunt alongside Christian, while Dale and Martin hunted on their own.  We must have seen 50-75 deer that morning.  Putting a stalk on several nice bucks, but with 100-150 eyes on you, it is not as easy as you would think.  That evening I was on my own.  At home I mainly hunt stands, so the spot and stalk was not what I was comfortable with.  I found a stand of pine trees that were on a shelf about 75 yards above a river.  I waited for 2 doe to come out to feed, and waited, and waited.  I could have shot either of these doe many times during that hunt, but I wanted their boyfriend.  Right before dusk, he came out.  I let him settle in feeding with the does, which put him about 80 yards from me.  Finally he gave me the shot position I was waiting for, and I squeezed the trigger.  I watched as he crossed the river, and then lost sight of him in the tall grass.

Since my guide and Dale would not be back for another hour, and the light was fading fast, I decided to go looking for him.  Finding the blood trail was easy, until I got to the river.  I marked the last location with orange marking tape and crossed the shallow water.  I looked up and down for 10-15 yards before I finally found the blood on some tall weeds.  I had to cross the river a second time, before I found him buried in the river muck.  He must have died in mid leap and buried himself up to his chest.  I couldn’t even see any of the antlers.  I dug enough to get his head out, and was thrilled to see my nice big 8 point in the velvet.  Other than digging him out, I could not move him at all.  After marking his spot with orange tape and with my GPS, I headed back up to wait for Christian.  After a lot of dragging up the face of the shelf we finally got the buck to the quad.  When we got back to camp, several other deer had been shot, but mine dwarfed them!

The next couple of days were in the 80’s.  The deer were not moving and the hunters were moving slowly.  We were all hunting hard, but it just wasn’t happening.  It took the rest of the week for our tags to all be filled.  I took a doe the last day, a perfect broadside shot at 20 yards.  She fell right where she had stood.  That last day our group took a buck, a doe, a salmon and a whale bone.  Dale had been hunting the ocean side and found the remains of a whale.  That had to be the coolest find all week.

Our group of 7 filled all 14 of our tags, and had a lot of fun doing it.  I look forward to returning to the island to hunt with our new friends again.

Anticosti Island - Landsat satellite photo (ci...

Image via Wikipedia