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My first bear spring bear season was in May of 2015; I had bought my first bow in the fall of 2014 and haven’t picked up my rifle since. Bowhunting is a totally different game and I fell in love with the challenge. I had never hunted bears in my life and there are many misconceptions about bear baiting, but I can tell you this as fact, it’s a ton of work and it’s definitely not easy. Mature bears are smart and usually know what’s going on in their own backyards.

Spring bear season always starts with April beaver season. This entails weeks of “beavering”, which leads into weeks of baiting and hunting. I am fortunate to have some access to private land where I can shoot and trap beavers to my heart’s content and I actually enjoy that part as much as the bear hunting.

2015 started with me and some buddies setting up five bait sites in northern Alberta; once again, this is half the fun when you have a great group of friend’s to do it with.

The baits were hit early that year and I instantly had my sights set on a big boar that I nicknamed Mr. Majestic. He wasn’t the biggest boar on the baits but he was simply majestic! I sat that stand 15 times that year and had him come in one night at 6:00 pm in mid-May. He was the first big game animal that I had ever drawn my bow on. With him standing completely broadside at 20 yards, I released the arrow and unfortunately, dropped my bow hand, which caused the arrow to go right under his heart... a clean miss!

The 2016 season came and went with Mr. Majestic again being the first bear to hit that bait. He was coming in at midnight, 11:30 pm, 11:00 pm, and then suddenly, he reverted to the early morning hours before sunrise. This bear had us beat and I never saw him in the flesh in 2016.

The 2017 season started with me and a buddy trapping 23 beavers for bait, while the other guys took care of the logistical nightmare that comes with bear baiting. Four bait sites were set on April 29 and we moved my spot a few hundred yards away to give Mr. Majestic a different look for the year. I told everyone that my only chance to harvest Mr. Majestic would be in the early season right after he hit the bait.

We rolled into camp on the morning of May 5 and jumped on the ATV’s to check the cameras. Only one of four baits had been hit and you guessed it, Mr. Majestic had just hit the bait at midnight that day and was back and forth until 5:00 am. I was in the stand at 5:30 pm and had told my wife days earlier that I was going to finish this journey on the weekend.

At 7:30 pm, I was getting texts from the guys about the slow night and how they felt like they were wasting time sitting at baits that hadn’t been hit. With this being my third year hunting Mr. Majestic, I knew his patterns, I knew the paths he took, and I knew when he was close. Somewhere around 8:00 pm, I sent a text that read, “He’s circling the bait”, even though I hadn’t seen him yet. I was told later that the eyes were rolling when the guys read that text. Twenty minutes later, I heard leaves crunching to the north and I caught a glimpse of black circling upwind 100 yards away. I knew it was him right away. I was locked in the moment, I turned the camera on, stood up, grabbed my bow and hooked the release.

He had circled the entire bait but it had been 29 degrees Celsius that day and my scent was floating up into the blue abyss. He eventually appeared right behind the bait and slowly came to the bait barrel, as my heart was pounding in my throat—unlike the first time I saw him in the flesh and basically had a full body seizure in the stand. I initially had a good shooting window but didn’t like the look of a single hanging branch so I waited him out, as he chewed on a log beside the bait barrel.

A short time later, he took a few steps to the left and was out in the wide open. He was now broadside at 17 yards and knew that something wasn’t right. He looked toward my stand and then back behind him, but it was too late. The arrow flew and I had no doubts that I had finally got the best of this bear. I watched the lighted nock enter his heart and he ran to the north where I heard him crash, followed by four soft moans.

The next message to the boys was, “I just killed him.” This was followed with “You serious?” and a barrage of, “Oh my God, oh my God” texts told the guys that I was serious. My bear mentor told me to sit down, breath, and not fall out of the tree. He dismounted and met me 20 minutes later.

The arrow confirmed my belief of a heart shot and we found him 40 yards away on a trail. The emotions when you take an animal’s life weigh heavy on the soul; I was excited beyond belief, but immediately apologized to Mr. Majestic, as I put my hands on him. I had tons of respect for this bear and any bowhunter knows the sacrifice that is often needed to take a trophy animal.

Curtis poses with Mr. Majestic.
The recovery video was a little shaky with lots of heavy breathing, as he turned out to be bigger than we thought. Needless to say, everyone slept in and had a headache the next morning, but it was all worth it! Mr. Majestic measured 6-foot, 6-inches nose to tail and rough scored right around 19 inches.

Perseverance definitely paid off and I couldn’t have done it without all of the other guys in the group. Bowhunting is a passion and I have been lucky to join the Pope and Young ranks with my last two harvests (velvet whitetail and Mr. Majestic). Lastly, I have to dedicate my success to my loving wife and kids, as they sacrifice a lot to let me spend countless days in the stand. Family is my first love, but bowhunting is my second! ■

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