Back in the late 90’s, a buddy of mine who I’d known since grade school became interested in big game hunting. By that time our crew had become pretty good at finding good bear spots near our camp that was surrounded by the Ottawa National Forest in the Western UP of Michigan.
On a cool September afternoon I walked a very nervous bear hunter a 1/4mile back to the bear stand we called twelve mile. We called it that because it was twelve miles from our camp down a set of dusty two track roads.
Before I left him at his stand, I reassured him that I could find him in the dark. Not only was he nervous of the desolation the site afforded, he was afraid of heights, and the small stand 16 feet up in the pine that overlooked the bait was not a place he wanted to be.
As the afternoon turned to evening, a large bear came to the bait and Marty made his shot count. The 300 lb. bear dropped just yards from the bait. Because I was not expected to return until after dark to retrieve him, he moved from his uncomfortable perch in the tree, unloaded his gun, and sat against the bank of the tree to wait out the sun.
As dark began to close in he began hearing movement in the brush outside the bait site. Turns out that another bear was on his way in to check the bait- this time with Marty on the ground with an empty gun just yards from the bait.
As the bear came in he became aware of the dead bear. Thinking it a rival, the bear began striking the dead bear trying to run it off the site.
By this time Marty was damn near petrified. As he quickly felt for the rifle shells in his pocket, the sound of the metal alerted the bear and scared it off.
A long 45 minutes later, well after dark, I found a thoroughly stressed buddy wanting nothing more than to “get the hell out of these woods”!
We returned to camp to rally the crew to help haul the beast out. The next morning we took it to the check in station on Lake Gogebic.
Marty has since become a very accomplished deer hunter but I don’t know if he is ever gonna go on another bear hunt!!