Unexpected Encounter with a Toothy Critter

With one bear hunt down and two to go, I once again set off to an area that still has snow. Living in Minnesota can be tough—the weather is not exactly ideal. There are only a couple months per year with nice weather, and it’s a shame to leave during those months, especially when traveling to a place that still has snow on the ground in June! 

Our destination is just north of Quebec City. In fact, we will be hunting bear only 40 minutes north of the city limits. The area has a huge problem with nuisance bears, which is why each hunter is given two tags. Nuisance bears typically run a bit smaller, but I have high hopes for a ton of encounters.

Word on the street is there are tons of bears, but after 24 hours of hunting- staring at a bait pile- I have yet to see one. Just when I start doubting the area, I hear some scratching noises in the tree directly above my head.

To my surprise, I look up and see two giant teeth chattering away furiously at me. This huge porcupine has visions of leaving the tree for an afternoon stroll, and I’m blocking his only exit. 

In the beginning, I’m not sure who’s more scared – me or the porcupine - but as time passes, he grows braver. I, on the other hand, become more and more scared.  His quills look so long and sharp. I keep imagining him loosing his balance and falling right into my lap.

As I’m contemplating getting down from the stand so this big, upset porcupine can go on his way, the first bear of the trip finally shows up.  I focus my attention on the bear, getting great footage, but the porcupine is still inching closer and closer.  They seem like pretty harmless animal- until they are eye level and only an arm’s length away.

I’m filming for Bill Miller, who’s trying to control his laughter only a few feet below my stand.  A couple of times I almost jump over to his stand because I thought the porcupine may use me as a branch.  I hand Bill the camera and he films the porcupine getting closer and closer, all the while the bear is still focusing on the bait.

We decided I would take the first bear.  I’m very grateful, not only because this is my first chance at a bear, but because we need to switch stands, and that meant I could leave Mr. Porcupine’s tree. 

Once Bill has the camera, I crawl down my tree, grab my bow sitting on the ground, and climb up into Bill’s stand.I get ready as quietly as possible and wait for the perfect shot.  Bear can be tough to take with a bow, so shot placement is critical.

The bear reaches his front leg forward, opening up his vitals, and I make a perfect shot.  Within seconds we hear him expire, and I look up at Bill with a huge smile.  It’s a true story of teamwork.  Still there, watching only a few feet away, is my buddy Mr. Porcupine.

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