Skip to main content

Another bear, another amazing experience

I watched the crack in my windshield grow slightly as the heater kicked on.  It was still dark and the temperature gauge read 27 degrees.  I took a sip of coffee and exhaled; it was a perfect September morning to go bear hunting.

I met Bill Dereszewski, owner of Hollaback Guide Service at the gas station in Princeton.  We drank coffee and planned out the day as we waited for more people to join us.  Bernie was the first to arrive.  A local retired hunter who assisted Bill, his truck was filled with shortbreads and coffee to keep us filled as we chased bears.  Bill Gillespie and his pup Tawny joined the group and finally Matt Mcdonnell and a group of hunters from New York arrived.  They had been checking trail cameras photos sent to their phones to see which bait site had the most recent activity. 

The caravan of trucks headed to the chosen bait site with Bill and I the lead.  I was amazed by the technology that each truck had; large screens connected to GPS that would pinpoint where each dog was and CBs that allowed each truck to talk and hear one another plus a hodgepodge of radios, collars, and equipment. 

The sun was coming up over the tree tops when we turned off the dirt road onto a trail leading into the woods.  Matt and Bill got a few dogs out and brought them into the bait site.  They immediately started barking and took off into the thicket.  Matt reviewed the trail camera pictures and realized that the dogs had taken off on the wrong trail. “They took the trail he came in on,” he said shaking his head, “we can call them back.”  But he didn’t need to.  With his dog Lobo in the lead, the group came back to the bait site and Matt pointed to the bear’s exit trail, “get ‘em” he said and the dogs took off again.  Gillespie put Tawny into the mix and we had six Redbones chasing a bear for me. 

We listened as the barking got further and further away and we rushed to the trucks to get back to the road and see where the dogs were.  The chase was on and we tried to get ahead of the dogs so that we could see the bear.  Turning on to another side trail, Bill slammed on the breaks as we came up over a knoll so that we wouldn’t hit the last dog in the pack.  We had just missed them.  But, we could see the size of the bear’s paw as it ran across the road.  We needed to find this bear.  I said a little prayer that it would tree as I did not want to worry about shooting a bayed up bear.

Returning to the dirt road, we watched the GPS as the bear and dogs continued to run.  Then, they stopped. Someone’s voice came across the CB “I got a ping.”  “Me too” came another.  I looked at Bill. “When the dogs tilt their head back, like they are looking up in the tree, they send a different tone.  The bear is in the tree.” My heart skipped. Once again, we left the dirt road and headed into the woods. Bill and Matt were talking over the CB to figure out the best way to get to the bear and dogs. 

I took another deep breath as everyone climbed out of their trucks and stretched their legs.  We were excited to see the bear but getting there would not be easy.  I grabbed my rifle and followed Bill through thick trees and overgrown brush.  There were puddles in the low lying areas.  We stayed hunched over as we moved forward and tried not to whack the person behind you with a branch.  Finally, we came to a clearing where we could see the black mass in the tree and a few of the dogs on the ground.  Bill ushered me into a spot where I would have the best shot possible while Matt, Gillespie, Bernie and the others helped to tie the dogs back. 

The bear was dead before it hit the ground. 

We took photos to celebrate the hunt and this one is one of my favorite hunting photos ever. All six dogs that helped me have a successful hunt are in the photo along with Bill Gillespie (2nd from the left), Bill Dereszewski (3rd from the left) and Matt Mcdonnell (next to me with two dogs).  The amount of time, energy and money that was spent by these men prior to me squeezing the trigger far exceeds what I paid for my Master’s degree.  They love what they do, they love their dogs and they love to hunt.  There is no better combination if you are looking for a guide. But be warned, as you have read in my article… once you start bear hunting, you won’t want to stop!


Popular posts from this blog

The unlikely bear hunter

Jesse Phillips had no intention of bear hunting.  He was along for the ride with friend and host of Blood Origins, Robbie Kroger, who was on his annaul bear hunt with Grove Hill Outfitters. Being convinced that he should go hunt, Jesse grabbed the 45-10 and headed into a treestand.  He wore his cowboy boots, jeans and flannel, "the only thing I didn't do was put on deoterant" Jesse laughed.  Climbing up into the stand a little before 2pm, he held no expectations for seeing his first bear in the wild.  He was doing this just to apease the guys in camp. At 4:02, a bear appeared. "He was about 40 yards away," explained Jesse, "and he was just walkeding around, sniffing and eating.  He wasn't interested in the bait at all."  Watching the bear, Jesse knew he needed to remain calm. He was in no position to move his gun and take a shot without the bear spooking. The bear walked in and out of the opening with no intention of heading to the bait. Jesse wat…

Eagles on the trail

Reason number 3,657,935 why my Dad is the best: As we were snowmobiling, we approached a bog and three eagles with about 20 crows took off.  It could only mean one thing in my book - something was dead.  We circled back and walked around in the snow but the birds had left and we couldnt find anything that would resemble a meal.  A part of me thinks that we were in the wrong piece of land and should have been on the other side of the bog but in our snowmobile gear, we were not going to cover a lot of ground.  I was disappointed that we couldn't find what the birds were eating but I was able to get some good pictures of one of the mature eagles and the immature eagle that were flying around.

The Blood Origins Project

"I was looking for a narrative that described who we are as hunters,” my friend Robbie Kroger explained to me, “Essentially looking for an authentic truth about who we are. I couldn't find it. So we built it with Blood Origins.” If you have never heard of Blood Origins, set aside a solid hour and watch the videos on their website or YouTube, featuring some of the most influential people in the hunting world. People like Will Primos, Cuz Strickland and Jim Shockey all share a small piece of their story and the how and why hunting was so important.

Robbie has more than 30 unique stories from hunters, nonhunters, men, women, veterans, young and old and each one is a personal look into the importance of hunting and conservation. “It is about our community, and conveying the truth around hunting” said Robbie.

The fact that Robbie and I even connected is a testament to the power of the hunting community. As a native South African, American and Mississippian, Robbie was determined to…