In response to our Close Calls discussion, Judy Black emailed me this story and photo of an encounter with a bear. It’s pretty great, so I’ll just get out of the way and let her tell it. It was the last day of a 2005 spring bear hunt in Alberta. –K.H.

Almost everyone in camp had already taken at least one bear or had the opportunity to take one. I had seen only one bear the first night of my hunt. Nobody wanted to harvest a bear more than me. Only having my first bow for a little over a year, a bear was at the top of my list of animals to harvest next.
My husband, Scott, had already filled both of his licenses so he said he would sit with me the last day. We sat in the morning in a stand that he had hunted and was not successful. But when the guide came to pick us up, he had stories to tell that would boost your enthusiasm. He has just baited a site and a large, color phase black bear had been frequenting it. It was actually being aggressive towards him as he put the bait out, and he had to fire a shot [in the air] to make it move off so he could get out of the area. He felt confident that if I sat there my final night, I could probably harvest that bear. Knowing how much I wanted to take a color phase bear, he was as excited as I was.
When we arrived at the site, the bait had been hit. He hurried me into the tree that my stand was in. My husband and Joell’ stood at the base of the tree talking, and then Scott climbed into a stand that had been put in a tree just behind mine. Joell’ left in the Argo.
You could still hear the Argo motor when I hear a whining sound and a whoof. I could hear scratching and then more whining. I listened and looked around but could not find the source of the noise, so I turned and asked Scott, “What in the heck is that noise?”
I looked to my right and there, at eye level is a cub, and the sow is in the next tree over. She climbed down and at the base of the tree the cub was in, she whoofed and snapped her teeth. Every time the cub would whine, it would start down the tree, see us, then move back up. The sow raised all kinds of heck at the base of that tree.
In the midst of all this chaos, I could hear the camera clicking and I’m thinking, “I’m going to die and he’s back there taking pictures!”
The sow moved off into the brush just a short distance, whoofing all the time, calling the cub. He moved down the tree and finally got to the bottom. I thought finally it was over and the cub started to climb another tree close by. The sow finally called it into the woods, and they left the area.
About 4:30, a smaller black bear came in and I did harvest him. He was not the biggest bear in Alberta but he definitely was the best.
I have this picture [above] in my office. If you look at the base of the tree, you can see the sow.
We went to Saskatchewan this year and the first thing I did BEFORE climbing into my stand was check the trees for sows and cubs. I didn’t have an experience, but my husband spent 6 hours in a tree with a sow protecting two cubs in a tree close by. He got some awesome pictures of her fighting with boars that came in to fed and check her out. — J.B.