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Closing in on 100 “YOUR ADVENTURES” with Jon Yokley

This past weekend was full of great expectations and dreams of filling my Arizona fall Bear tag which would be my 100th animal with a bow. What made this hunt so special was to have the brand new Destroyer 350 LE that my friends at Bowtech made sure that it was in my hand. I had my gear/product ready, and I was pumped to get started on my quest for 100.

On this hunt was one of my best friends, Kevin, owner of Paws and Claws Outfitters, and Ken who also is an avid hounds-men and hunter.  I also had my very good friend Ron who will be taking photos and possibly a video for this hunt. Between these two dog owners they probably have some of the best bear/lion dogs in the state. I felt very lucky to have these guys helping me in my pursuit.

October 5th, 4:00 a.m. came quickly opening morning. It was time to load the dogs and get on the trail to cut a fresh track. We had a couple of rigs early before daybreak but nothing to get really excited about. We continued hunting the area without any luck. This was very surprising because the year before was so successful for Kevin. He rigged six bears in six days which aren’t bad odds. Finally late morning we hit on decent set of tracks and off went the dogs. They worked hard and slow trying to gather what little scent was on the ground. Kevin & Ken let them work for an hour or so before gathering them. This ended day one. When bear hunting with dogs, we usually won’t run in the afternoon because there is always a concern of losing a dog after dark.

Day two, again 4:00 a.m. and it’s COLD for early October, 29 degrees in Arizona, in an open faced side by side at 30 mph. I was very glad to have brought most of my Kryptek Gear layers to keep me comfortable. I wasn’t expecting these kind temps but when hunting the weather can change in minutes. We started hunting, trying old and new areas without any luck. Around 11:00 a.m. we decided to load up the dogs and head 20 miles south to try a canyon that my friends named “Secret Squirrel”. Ken is usually the elected one to head down from the top of this canyon to try and strike a Bear track. As luck would have it he did, but the problem was it was about 12 hours old. The dogs work it fine as long as they stayed in the shaded areas but in the sun it was next to impossible. This rig went unsuccessful. Thus wrapped up day two but as you know, this is hunting.

Day three and my final day we were up at 3:30 a.m. but this time we had a bit of a treat, a warm truck. We headed into some of the lower area where we had found more feed for the bears in the way of pinion nuts that were starting to drop, and ripe prickly pear cactus apples. We had great hopes of this area but once again, we couldn’t turn a bear or a bear track. About 8:30 a.m. we decided to hit the secret canyon again but this time a little earlier. Ken headed off down the canyon while Kevin, Ron and I headed to a ridge top to glass and keep track of the dog’s whereabouts. We decided to sit and glass.  Using my Razor HD’s I glassed up a big red/cinnamon color phased bear working his way along a ridge. This was a great sight after 2 ½ days of few close encounters, I thought “man, this is it”! We were able to get the dogs on the tracks in just minutes. You would think this one would be a slam dunk especially when we saw one of the dogs had him treed within 20 minutes. We tried to get there in time but just missed it as the bear, having jumped out of the tree and the race was on again. This time we were able to feed the rest of the hounds onto the hot trail. We watch the GPS go from 100 yards to 1.5 miles away in what felt like just minutes.  What we weren’t prepared for was the canyon the bear decided to take the dogs into, after such an emotional high, thinking “this is it, he’s treed”. I went to sinking low knowing the bear had won the race and somehow eluded the dogs through the steep canyon walls. Now is when the work starts, gathering up the hounds which were scattered throughout the canyon. Long story short, it took until 7:00 p.m. and three different trips into this deep canyon to retrieve the dogs. My quest for 100 will continue. I’m not sure if will it be a black bear, mountain lion, javelina, or a gnarly Arizona muley. Only time and patience will tell. Either one will make a great trophy and fulfill a dream.

Contributed by Jon Yokley, 

Jon is a representative the following companies:
Bowtech Archery, S4 Gear, Kryptek Gear,  Bohning Archery ,Carbon Express ,
Scott Archery, CBE Custom Bow Equipment, Caribou Game Gear, G5 Outdoors,
Vortex Optics- Project Backcountry, Montana Decoys, Trophy Taker Products, Commando Calls, Extreme Bow Strings,Badlands and Hat Creek Outfitters


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