Sunday, November 19, 2017

The end of a Champion

Where to even start the story on this amazing event of this week? this story is true on all accounts and the ending is bitter sweet.
   Back in 2006 i had gotten permission to hunt a new land 15 acres of prime country land with fields and woods, mainly fields and my main quarry was deer,but my mind would shift to a quarry that would become known as TANK.
   I first saw him in 2006 on trail camera he was about 250 pounds at the time and a beautiful black bear,after seeing him repeatedly coming in to my trail camera i decided by the end of the year i was going to try and hunt him in 2007 season.
   Year after year day after day of hunting him i would see him in the day time until a week before the season would start and then he would disappear in day light only to show up on camera 15 minutes after i would leave my stand.
   Year after year this would go on and he would eat 50 pounds of corn each nite every year chasing deer away and any other animal that came close to HIS food.
  Finally in 2015 i thought it was the year that this king went head to head with me and i would outsmart him,i had his routine down to a science,i knew where he came in and went out and the times he was moving back and forth,i hunted hard that whole year for the 2 week season and on the second to last day i got that long awaited shot at 20 yards give or take and took it,BUT at the same time i shot he turned his head to the left leaving me to graze his right neck side which had me on a tracking job of 3 days in and out of swamps and heavy brush on my hands and knee's.
   After 3 days i gave up the chase and 3 days later he was back on my cameras as to say to me YOU missed.
   2016 was NO different i chased i sat for hours on end thru rain and 30 degree temps in the day and nite ,i slept in a tent with a buddy heater for 2 weeks never to get that day light shot, so the year ended the same as it did every year since 2007 no TANK .
2017 i was hoping for a better chance and hopefully a better way to bring him in the daylight,Peanuts un processed as allowed by the state of North Carolina we are allowed to use so i purchased my first batch of them at 800 pounds, not knowing how much that would be lol.
   The day before the season i set out at 2 stands about 300 pounds of peanuts and got ready for the first day,tore down my CVA Wolf .50 cal muzzle loader and cleaned it to insure proper functioning of my weapon of choice,loaded it with 100 grains of powder and a 250 grain Thompson Center Shock Wave bullet,its what my weapon shoots best.
   I had made sure the weapon was zeroed in a few days before for 25 yards since the most distance i have from any of the 2 stands is 27 yards,my stands are 30 foot and 18 foot high up enough out of the wind currents to not be too worried about scent,but i still sprayed down with D/code by Code Blue i was taking no chances of him finding me before i saw him.
First half of bear season in Lenoir county started on the 13th of November and ran to the 18th,i took a week off of work to hunt him as hard if not harder than i have in the years past.
  I checked my cameras that Friday night and he was on the camera all nite of the 12th so i knew my chances were good since he was taking his time eating and being caught on camera up till 7 am.
   Monday morning 4:30 am i headed into my stand to await shooting hours and make sure I was there before him,boy was i wrong lol i got there and he was already in eating the peanuts,as i approached he heard me and crashed out of there fast,i didn't give up but i felt like i was punched in the gut because he out smarted me again by getting there before me.
   I climbed up in the stand even if he had busted me coming in and half hour later i could hear branches breaking under his heavy body as he circled me to my right ever so slowly.
   For the very first time i could smell a bear and hear his breath as he tryed to catch my scent,for 20 minutes he worked around me trying to find me.
   I could hear him huffing and sniffing long sniffs yet he slowly stepped under my stand and into the peanuts,in the dark i could see his shadow,he looked like something from the Jurassic park era,BIG ominous and beautiful all at the same time.

   He would stay on the peanuts for the next few hours BUT at 5:53 am he was done and beating the incoming rain out of there leaving me in shambles and disbelief that he was that close to day light and he leaves.

  Rain set in for the morning and i sat there wondering what i did wrong even if i knew i did nothing wrong and it was just faith,after the rain cleared off i sat for another hour and called it a day and decided NOT to go back until the next morning the 14th.
   I believe that was the right call since he was back in eating that nite until 1 am,i knew because i pulled the camera chip after the next event happened.
   On the 14th of November the second day of bear i actually got up later than i wanted too i guess from  going over and over in my head the day before events,i got into my stand at 5 am and hour and a half later than i wanted too and i heard him once again leave the bait pile as i was going in and my heart dropped thinking i had really messed up this time.
   As i sat there for the next half hour all of a sudden i hear twig snap and my heart starts to race faster than my mind,sunrise is half hour away for first shooting light,i hear what i assumed was a slight buck grunt from behind my stand and another twig snap but this time closer and in front of me to my right.
   As i sit there in silence not even a bird chirping my mind is racing trying to think of the best shot possible to take to drop him as humanely and fast as i can 6:10 i see him rounding the first tree on my right just before the bait pile of peanuts,i didn't think twice i picked up my weapon and got him in the scope and as soon as he was in the clear of the bushes i let the WOLF howl,as i am listening for some kind of sound my mind is racing again did i get him, is he dead,did i miss???

   Just as the smoke was clearing i see and hear him rolling on the ground towards my stand and at that point i was reloaded and ready to fire again, the first shot was to the side of the head the second shot i put in his side behind the shoulders trying to take out the lungs,as he was hit with the second placed shot he rolled back the other way to where he was first hit and i gave him a third shot that ended the life of one magnificent animal and adversary.
  You don't or can not explain the way you truely feel after doing something like this,it is a relief yet sad at the same time its being happy knowing you have set a quest and completed it no matter what it took.
   I sat in the woods the rest of the week feeling empty yet satisfied and i know to some that would make no sense but it is hard to put it all in words what it was like and to know you have claimed the KING of the woods,i didn't hunt him for a trophy but i will not let HIS legacy go unheard ,he was between 10 to 15 years old he weighted in at 585 pounds and was over 7 foot tall on his hind legs,from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail he was 6 foot 7 inches and his front thighs were thicker around than my legs.
    He is gone but his memory will live on in my mind and many others i normally do not mount animals but he was the king of his domain so he will be mounted by where he will be brought back to life and be remembered for the magnificent animal he was.
   Where do i go from here? not sure but where ever i go NOTHING can compare to the years I've spent hunting this King of the woods, thank you Lord for sharing your animal with me and giving me the strength and ability to keep on going.
  A very special thank you to Dennis and Suzie Rouse for allowing me to continue to hunt there land and allowing me to fulfill my quest on a very special animal.
   To Ty friend and David Friend thank you for all your help getting him out of the woods and keeping him in great shape to get put back together for a mount. 
  Most of all thank you to my loving wife Ruthie Wilbur for allowing me year after year to go after an animal that some could only ever dream of seeing let alone get a shot at and kill,alot of lonely nites sleeping at home without me for a week or 2 on end and being patient with me while i try to complete a task that most would not try or would give up on after the first year,the money that could have been spent on other things instead of bear hunting,thank you for letting me be me i love you more than i can say.
 To everyone who followed me over the years while i chased him THANK YOU for believing i can and would eventually do it, this was not about me alone it was EVERYONE who followed each year as i tryed to bring y'all on the hunt with me.