It was 90 degrees. The odds of a bear coming in were really not good. Plus, when Steve dropped me off and checked the cameras, there were no pictures and the bait had not been touched. I was a little more relaxed about it but I was still weirded out about having the wrong gun.
|Me, my awesome Kryptek Helios top and the wrong 30-06|
I'm couldn't believe that it happened. I had assumed that my gun was in my gun bag and switched it with the gun sitting right next to it. The different strap never registered when I grabbed the guns. I didn't think anything of it again until I took the gun out of the case and noticed that the shock pad was sticker than normal. I assumed that it was due to the heat. When I reached up to automatically slide the safety back, the safety wasn't there. I stared at the gun trying to figure out what was going on. I turned the gun and saw the safety switch on the side. I looked at the scope and it was a big round circle and not the oval of my Dads gun. I tried not to panic. Steve watched me with uncertainly and a little uneasiness. I didn't want to let on that I hadn't shot that gun in more than six years. I tried to reassure Steve that it was all right and that I was fine. I grabbed three bullets and tried to load them into the chamber. The first two jammed and I pulled them out, took a deep breath and reloaded the gun without any issues. Steve watched me and I tried again to convince him that I was ok with the gun. Still a 30-06, still 180 grain bullets. It was nothing to worry about. But in my head, I was panicking.
I was a little bummed about the temperature, wrong gun and lack of bears but I kept telling myself that it would be a good exercise in sitting and getting use to the tree stand and being alone in it.
I'm not sure when I realized that there was rustling in the bushes off to my right. The blind was totally in closed except for a small triangular window that was maybe 12 inches tall and 7 inches wide. The window next to me would have been a great way to peak out but the zipper was in an awkward spot and I could not reach it without really making a lot of noise.
|Looking down at the bait site|
Then, it all changed. The rustling came really close and I looked through the wire floor of the tree stand to see if I could see what it was. Instead, I just heard breathing; heavy, raspy breathing. I panicked. It sounded like a bear but I had nothing to compare it to. Last year's hunt did not involve me spending a lot of time with my bear while it was alive. Would a bear really just hang out this long in one spot? Why wasn't he going to the bait? The breathing continued for four breathes (yes, I actually counted) and then stopped. I kept looking down for movement below me.
|From the bait, looking up at the blinds. I was in the one in the tree.|
As I listened to them around me, it continued to get darker and darker. Steve was going to come in a get me when legal hours were over. I text'd him and asked for an eta at 7:42pm - one minute after legal hours. Before he responded, I heard his keys or something clink together and I heard the bears run off. He was still quiet as he helped me get out of the stand and hold onto my gun as I climbed down. I was a little more loud. I wanted those bears to know that I was around so they would stay away. It was an unnerving experience but I successfully sat in a blind by myself while bear hunting and I had at least one bear there with me.
Steve checked out the area behind the stand the following day and said that a tree stump was ripped apart. It had definitely been a bear who was grubbing for food. Natural food. Yesterday morning, Steve checked the cameras and big bears had come into each site. One of them ripped the cable that was holding the 55 gallon drum, off the tree and out of the drum. For my own mental health and willingness to go back into the stand alone, I am going to say that it was these guys and not a huge bear, that was hanging out with me in the woods.
|Maybe it was these guys?|