First Bear Hunt and First Ever Bear (Long)

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Gajbird

Senior Member
I was blessed to be invited to hunt Arkansas Archery season by the best friend a guy could have David “Mitch” Mitchell. Most folks seem perplexed when I say I'm hunting bear in Arkansas and even more puzzled when I show them pictures of bear weighing up to 400 pounds. I have a friend who owns 40 acres on top of a mountain in North Arkansas that holds a ridiculous amount of bears. The quota for his zone is 250 bears for archery (that was over in 3 days). I arrived on 9/21 and since it was flooding I waited until mid morning on 9/22 to climb on barrel 2. I was blessed to film a 170 # (or so) black come in and gorge on the bait... I climbed down at noon to eat, get a jacket and move to Barrel 1, where I was targeting a Huge Chocolate bear with a broken leg. He was really big before we could bait (8/22) but had lost 100 pounds and was staying close to barrel 1 to eat and heal... We were afraid he might not make through the winter, he is chocolate, and mature so I wanted him… I went to barrel 1 at 2pm and set up an umbrella, camera and bow-holder. As I sat in the rain I was munching on Pistachio nuts and throwing the shells on the ground (can you guess why this is important). I sat all afternoon with no action. Crip (The big chocolate) was mostly nocturnal but would occasionally show in the afternoon but usually there were other bears during the day... At 6:55 PM my buddy Tracy Treece texted and asked about shooting light and action. I answered I still had light and legal shooting hours were still 40 minutes to go and I hadn’t seen any bears. After putting down my phone I looked down to see a Black bear coming in from behind me under the ladder stand. He presumed to sniff the Pistachio shells and look up the ladder at me (From 2 yards away and another 3 yards below). He turned and walked to the barrel and began eating. I filmed him and texted my buddy that I was watching a medium sized bear with a big rear end...He was borderline and with the quota presumed to be gone in a couple days, rain continually forecast and I was filming with light fading fast I was tempted but I decided not to take him. He was 30 yards away with low light and borderline. I did draw my bow with finger behind the trigger and place the pin behind his shoulder in the "Middle of the Middle". I let down and enjoyed the show. Suddenly he looked up my way, got real alert and then turned and ran down the hill (bears don't evade things, they run through things...and they're very, very fast)... I got ready. I again looked down...this time to see a bigger chocolate bear coming in from the same spot and stopping to smell the pistachio shells and look up at me...This bear however didn't like me being there and ran into the woods stopping to glare at me from about 10 yards. In a couple minutes he re-appeared in the trail at 15 yards. I came to full draw as he quartered away and he again glared up at me. I released the arrow and watched the nock disappear behind the shoulder center mast. It was a pass-through and as I watched him run into the bushes I listened intently. I thought I heard him crash and I was listening for the "Death Moan" but never heard it. I did think I may have heard gurgling but it was still raining pretty good. I texted Tracy and he jumped on the 4-wheeler and headed my way. As he rounded the first turn from the cabin a larger black bear was in the road. Thankfully that bear ran off and let him pass. He arrived at my stand and we inspected the blood covered arrow but were unable to find Blood on the ground. We walked to the spot I thought I heard him crash and found nothing. My light was weak so we went back to the cabin and grabbed a couple more. We returned to the spot where my arrow was and there was about a 175 pound black there. He climbed the tree when we pulled up on 4-wheeler. We revved the engine, yelled and I through a rock at him (to which he snarled and went further up the tree). We did this for 15 minutes. The bear started down the tree and we pulled our pistols. The bear climbed down stood on top of the barrel and just glared at us...At this point we were 25 yards away and no longer throwing rocks. After a few minutes (of prayer) the bear climbed back up the tree and sat on a limb...still glaring at us. When he started licking his paws it seemed he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Tracy asked what I wanted to do. I wanted to look for my bear but since there were even more bears in close proximity, another in a tree 15 yards from my arrow, it's full on raining, and most importantly it got down to 48 degrees that night we decided to back out and return early in the morning.
The next morning Mitch, who had to leave the evening before to run chains at a college football game, came back to help us find my bear. We returned to the point I thought I heard him crash and resumed the search. It rained all night and it was cold. I stood on a little knob that marked where I thought he died while they walked in the woods. After a few minutes I joined them in the thick pine flat. I went down a ravine and although discouraged I began to pray (not only that I would be blessed with the bear but that he hadn't suffered nor would he ruin). I returned to that small knob and stood there. I noticed a trail going downhill and knew a wounded animal would want to go downhill. I entered the trail and noticed a small pine limb broken off of a small pine tree. I walked to the limb and scanned the area. Believe it or not the bear was 6 feet from my boot. He was chocolate and laying on a mat of pine straw of the same color. I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving and let out a celebratory holler. My friends came running and the hugs and celebration began. The bear was laying maybe 10 yards from that little knob and we had been within 30 feet of him several times including the night before. We took pictures and video and while one friend went to get 4-wheeler we drug him to the firebreak.
We planned this hunt for a year. these two awesome friends drove 100 miles 5 days a week building a cabin and for the last month (legal baiting time) to bait the barrels. They would not hunt until after I shot and completely catered to my every need AND the only compensation they would take was for the bait and a few things I "Left" behind.
The season was over in 3 days. 51 bear were killed on Saturday, 130 on Sunday, and 70 on Monday at which time the AGFC closed the season since quota was met +1.
My bear was Chocolate, he weighed 225 pounds, and we're almost positive he was 4 years old. We will know for sure when the AGFC gets his pre-molar.
I am forever grateful to my two awesome friends and mostly God for blessing me with an awesome bear, experience and great, great friends!!!

P.S. Crip (the original target bear ) is on the mend, gaining weight and now visiting both barrels.
P.S.S. If you watched Raised Hunting on discovery channel Saturday my friend Mitch is the guy whose wife Tammy survived breast cancer and last Saturday’s episode Hope was about them and that victory…(and yeah he killed a Booner 10pt 170 2/8”) 42404444_10204770687623108_7323560057390497792_o.jpg 42467786_10204770687983117_6465929709141098496_o.jpg C0021 (002).jpg 0921181017a (2).jpg
 
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Terrific chocolate bear. Also two wonderful friends.
 

jbogg

Senior Member
I scrolled down immediately to look at the pics before reading the post and thought I was looking at the first chocolate bear I had seen in the North GA mountains. Not Georgia, but cool story, and really nice bear!
 

CornStalker

Senior Member
Beautiful bear...awesome story!
 
Pretty Bear, congrats! Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like lots of bears in that area.
 
I'm a fan of the regular black bears before the color phase because black bears are really all we have in Georgia. There are probably one or two extremely rare color phase bears in the state, but 99.99999% of our bears in the state are just black. If you want to kill a color phase bear, you're usually going to have to pony up a lot of $cash$ and hunt way up north. We have black phase bears and only black phase bears here in Georgia. I'm proud to kill black phase bears here because that is what GA has and that is what we can kill. #longliveGA
#GAbearsarebetter. #beproudofwhatyouhave.
 
I don't have any friends up nawth with private property and color phase bears. If I can ever afford it, I might make a bucket list trip way up yonder to try and kill a color phase bear. Until then, I'll remain happy with the regular ol' black bears we have in GA. I'll remain thankful for the bear hunting opportunities I have, and not what opportunities I wish them to be.
Is your bear destined for the wall? Have you eaten any of it yet?
 
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Gajbird

Senior Member
I killed this Bear on 40 acres in Arkansas free of charge. Yes I have eaten it. I'm thankful for what God blesses me with regardless of location. He is being made into a rug with head (mouth closed) and skull European
 
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