In July 2006 I was invited back home to Newfoundland by Guy Harvey, my cousin, guide and ACA’s East Coast Affiliate. I would get the chance to hunt black bear and also fish for Atlantic salmon.
Our first trip to the bear stand was to refill the bait and check out Guy’s tree stand to see if I would be able to access it. We refilled the bait and then proceeded to the stand on Guy’s ATV. He had a great stand that was accessible and was home comfort for the upcoming hunt. Guy and our good friend Art Cooper did an excellent job on the stand. The first evening at the stand we sat and waited but Guy figured it might be too windy and thus the bears might stay away. Guy talked about how he would tap clients on the leg if he seen the bear before the client did. I joked with Guy and said he may as well not do that with me because he would be there a long time before I felt it. Guy also set up our trail camera in hopes that we might get a picture when the bears were attending the bait. We left the stand at about 2145.
The next day we could not hunt but went to pick up the camera. The bear had showed up and proceeded to slap our camera out of the tree. I guess he was camera shy! We refilled the bait and left it until the next night.
On July the 4th Guy and I went down to the stand again. I got myself in the stand and Guy moved down to the bait and lit a small stove and heated up a can with honey and syrup in it. The mixture came to a boil and sent plumes of white smoke through the trees. Guy turned off the stove and joined me in the stand and waited. The sun was setting and was directly in my view. We were in the stand about 20 minutes when I noticed in my peripheral vision Guy tapping his fingers on my right knee. I turned my face a little in the direction he was looking and looked directly into the face of a black bear at about 25 yards! All I could see from my vantage point was his head. We are not sure what spooked him but he took off in a flash and continued to walk around us until he caught our scent and high tailed it out of there! Guy looked at me and said it was the biggest bear he had seen down there in all his hunting. His head was the size of a 5 gallon bucket! We were a little down at having missed the chance but still had a laugh at Guy tapping my leg what seemed to him like minutes! We stayed in the stand and about 10 minutes later out walked another bear to the bait. This bear was smaller and seemed oblivious to us in the stand. He walked around the tree and I kept the cross hairs from the .308 on him at about 40 yards. I waited what seemed like a long time until Guy got the video camera ready and zoomed in on him for the shot. My heart was racing and I was enjoying the rush of adrenaline! I waited with my sights on him until Guy gave me the word. “Take him”, Guy said. That’s all I needed and squeezed the trigger. He went down for the count and I turned to look at Guy. “Did you hit him?” he asked. I chuckled and said yes he was down. Guy lost sight of him when taking the video as the shot rang thru the woods.
Guy then took the gun and got down from the stand and walked down to where the bear was lying in the bushes. He turned back to laughed “he isn’t going anywhere”. Guy then passed me the gun and walked about 200 yards back to the truck to get the ATV to pull the bear out. I sat there again and listened as Guy made his way back to the truck. I looked down towards the bait and then I noticed the trees moving behind the dead bear. I lifted the gun again but the movement stopped and the second bear never came in sight. Guy got back and we pulled the bear out and up on top of the ATV and then out to his truck to take it home for pictures and skinning. Guy and I have done a lot of fishing and hunting together and this was just one more memory for us. I have never lost my desire to hunt and Guy makes it so much easier as he will do whatever it takes to make sure I can. No words can explain how thankful I am for that. Knowing Guy, no thanks are needed.
On July 7th I drove to St. John’s to pick up Bobby. It was his first trip to Newfoundland and it would be his first time fishing for Atlantic salmon. Also Guy still had one tag left for black bear so we headed down on Saturday night which was the last day of bear season. Bobby and I had been down earlier in the day and filled the baits in hopes that we might get the chance to fill the remaining tag that evening. The three of us headed down to the stand at around 1900 and waited. The bear had already been out to the bait and had devoured everything and had trashed the place. Guy figured we might have been a little too late and missed our chance. Turned out he was right. Bob and I stayed in the stand until 2130 and pretty well got devoured by mosquitoes! The sun set and we never saw a bear and the only sound was a partridge drumming in the woods behind us. We packed it all in and headed home.
During the following week Guy took Bob and I fishing on the Exploit’s River. We got to the river about 1030 and anchored in the best pool on the river known as “Pentecost Alley”. We took turns fishing until finally Guy hooked into one around 1730. From then until about 2130 we landed six salmon and played another two which we lost. I also rose and struck another six or more which had Guy questioning if I had lost my touch after moving to Mississauga. Bob got to hook his first Atlantic salmon and ended up tagging two and losing another. We had a blast rising salmon again and again before hooking them. We were pretty well the only ones on the river catching salmon (thanks to our guide!). The only regret we had was that we had our video camera left home and missed a lot of great footage. We made another trip down later in the week and Bob and Guy managed to catch another couple salmon. I have done a lot of fishing but I still say nothing compares to the initial take of an Atlantic salmon.
Bob, Colton (my son) and I left on the 17th to drive back to Mississauga. We took a drive up to Gros Morne and took in the beautiful scenery of Gros Morne National Park. We arrived back home safe and sound and filled with a lot of memories.
It’s all about the memories!