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The Hunt

Saskatchewan Black Bear

Squirrels chatter and scurry noisily on the forest floor. One in particular seems to have you pegged - he scolds and chatters and seems to have a problem with sharing the huge pine. Somewhere a duck squawks and quacks - seemingly in frustration. Silence, until powerful wing-beats overhead precede the raucous sounds of a pair of ravens.

Silence again, you can hear the blood flowing through your veins. You settle back in the tree-stand and let your mind wander, thinking thoughts both serious and silly. That damned squirrel starts up again, and then the ducks, then some far-off ravens. Fifty million frogs start serenading in an unseen pond. The forest symphony is backed by the constant drone of the wind - although nestled in the huge pine you can't feel any wind at all.

Way back in the forest two or three squirrels go ballistic. That is a good sign - the guide says that squirrels do not like bears. A few minutes later another barrage of squirrel chatter starts up, only closer this time. Maybe a bear is coming in to the bait - maybe. Despite the ducks, frogs, wind and squirrels, your hearing has never been more acute.

A branch pops, the noise is significant in the noisy forest. "Takes a critter to bust a branch like that." You think to yourself. You scan the trails leading to the bait. You don't dare to move your head. You slowly pan with your eyes as best you can.

Back in the blackest shadow you see - black that does not belong. Suddenly the biggest bear in the forest walks slowly toward the bait. Your heart stops. You want to shrink inside your hunting clothes so that you cannot be spotted. Your rifle is loaded but you are not ready for this. He keeps coming closer, intent on the goodies in the bait drum. Finally he gets to the drum and stops. He stands broadside, eating some morsels that were left on the ground. His head is hidden by the drum so you slowly raise the rifle. With a WOOF he spins backward and runs a few yards. He didn't like something, but apparently he does not know what. He stands, sniffing the air and slowly peering around.

Your crosshairs have found the bulging shoulder and your finger tightens on the trigger. What happens next is up to the hunting gods - and you. To find out talk to Grant Kuypers and arrange the bear hunt of your lifetime.

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