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I’m obsessed with my trail cameras and run them year ‘round, catching everything from rutting bucks to sneaky coyotes and hungry bears. Turkey season keeps me busy in the spring and I buy tags for as many weeks as possible to keep an excuse to be out there! My favorite part of the hunt is calling, and I enjoy calling turkey in the spring, coyotes in the winter, and deer in the rut. I recently started a trapline and have snares set for fox and coyotes.

First Archery Bear w/ Skye Goode

Skye Goode, Mossy Oak ProStaff

Skye Goode, Mossy Oak ProStaff

In this installment of Victory Outdoors “Your Adventures” Skye Goode recalls her first archery bear season in Wisconsin.

After 5 years of patiently waiting, I finally drew a kill tag for the 2012 Wisconsin bear season. I quickly learned that filling a hollow log with sweets would not guarantee a bear would come in easily, especially with the acorn season coming up fast. I had started baiting in mid-April and had three primary bait sites that were actively getting hit by many different bears. One site was overtaken by an old sow and her four cubs early on, and she ran off any bear that tried to cross her path, so I had to let that stand run cold. My second site was a ground blind on public land in Jackson County, in the heart of wolf country. I had sat there several times, and it was a seasoned bait site that my cousin had used to run dogs, so every bear in the area knew that site was there for years. There were no trees in the swamp site that would hold a stand, so a ground blind was my only option. Opening day I went into the blind and heard something running on the dirt path, but no bear ever came in. When I left the blind and cut my own track in the dirt, there was a huge wolf track right on top of mine, like he was following my scent. Needless to say, I was a little nervous sitting in the ground blind with only a bow during the hunt.

303890_10151099459537881_1888362129_nThe season started on the first Wednesday in September and I had been hunting almost every day for two weeks, not seeing any bear. I had consistent hits on the baits that were filled with cookies, donuts and sweet syrups in the months preceding. The week of opening season, the acorns had steadily started dropping and getting a bear to hit my baits seemed impossible. I had talked to other bear hunters who reported that they were having baits run untouched all week because the animals were overindulging on acorns. I was getting very discouraged that I was spending countless hours in the stand over a log filled with goodies, when the bears would rather do work to dig through the leaves for nuts than have an easy free meal. Finally, on Sunday September 16th, 2012, my time came. I went into my third site; a bait that was setup by my cousin in early August as a last ditch effort to pull some bear off the river and into the public land swamp. As I settled into the hang-on stand, I was almost getting lazy with my hunting since I hadn’t had any luck for weeks. I didn’t take a scent-free shower before I went in, I didn’t put camo makeup on my feet, and I didn’t wash my clothes that I had been wearing for two weeks. My hair was in a ponytail, still full of hairspray and perfume from the night out on the town before, and I just rubbed some dirt on my face to stop the glare. A few hours in, I was starting to get discouraged. 544221_10151857767472881_814900635_nI had trail camera pictures of several big bears that would always come in together at around 4pm and gorge themselves for a couple hours on the bait site 15 yards down from my stand. It was now 5pm and I hadn’t seen a thing. The downfall to bear hunting is that you aren’t able to observe other wildlife because everything stays clear of the bear’s buffet. There are no deer, squirrels, or turkey to occupy your attention while you wait for a bruin to come in. I suddenly heard a twig crack over my right shoulder, and slowly turned to the sound. A small bear, maybe 100 lbs., was casually walking into the site. It looked like a small sow, and though any bear is a good bear, I decided it wasn’t worth the time and effort that I was putting in to fill my tag.

488248_10151099455152881_272602250_nAbout an hour after the small cub walked off, I heard more footsteps coming from my left shoulder this time. I turned slowly, and again, a nice sized bear was coming right in for the bait. As I grabbed my bow, nocked an arrow, and clicked in my release, I was prepared to take the big sow that appeared to be about 250 lbs. The first thing I noticed was the white patch on her chest, which in my area, 1 out of 100 bears are said to have a white patch, so that intrigued me even more. She sat down and began licking the peanut butter off the rocks on the bait site, and was facing me straight on. I decided to take her with a shot through the chest and drew back. As soon as I felt the let off and put the pin on her white spot, I caught some movement out of the corner of my left eye. Another bear was coming in and I saw his huge block head right away, letting me know it was a big boar. I let my bow down thinking that I might want to re-evaluate which bear to take. He stopped in his tracks, looked me straight on, and began sniffing the air trying to catch my scent. Bear have poor eye sight and in the darkness of the woods, he was unable to make out what I was, though he was slightly alarmed. Just then, the strangest thing happened. A big doe walked through the site about 40 yards behind the sitting sow and stepped on a stick, making a loud crack through the woods. Since the boar was already weary of the movement he saw in the tree, he took off at a full sprint back into the swamp. My heart sank into my stomach. I thought I had blown the best opportunity I would have at taking a trophy bear. But I realized that the sow was still perfectly content eating sweets on the bait pile, so I continued to hold my position, knowing that if she was happy, the boar had to come back. I was standing barefoot on the metal stand, still holding my bow, not drawn, but in the upright position. Thank goodness for my Hunter’s Safety System or I would have shaken right out of the tree because my muscles were starting to fatigue and adrenaline was pumping through my veins, making my knees weak. I had stood there in that position for what felt like the good part of an hour. Just as I thought he would, the boar came back to the site when he realized the sow was not alarmed, but instead of coming right in, he walked a complete circle around the area, staying about 60 yards out.

625611_10151416333982881_667529821_nHe finally decided it was safe to come in and walked up from behind my right shoulder this time. When he was broadside on my right at 10 yards, and his left leg took a step forward, he stopped and watched me draw back. I took a fraction of a second to put the pin on the quarter size spot I picked out and let the arrow fly. It was a solid THWACK through both lungs and he let out a loud groan like someone had knocked the wind out of him. He barreled through the swamp and I heard him fall over about 60 yards away, with a terrifying death bawl shortly after. I grabbed my phone and called my cousin who was bowhunting a couple miles away and through the heavy breathing and shaking managed to tell him, “I got him, I got a big one, he’s a big one!” The bear was still moaning so loudly that my cousin could hear the death bawl over the phone.

538847_10151415719642881_951975951_nOnce all the family came to help me take care of the bear, we went back into the woods and recovered my arrow that cleanly passed through and was lying right where I shot him. There was no need to follow a blood trail, as just a few yards away I could see the black brute lying in the swamp grass. I was proud of myself for sticking out the season and not being discouraged when baiting didn’t work. I was unable to get an exact weight on the bear, but it was estimated to be about 300 lbs. The skull green scored at 18 inches, so I missed Pope & Young by a fraction of an inch. I had it half mounted and he hangs in my living room, posed in the exact position I shot him, head turned to the left, his shoulder forward taking that step. I relive the hunt every time I walk past the mount and my heart pumps just as hard as moment I shot him. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime and just goes to show that perseverance is a quality that any hunter, be it whitetail, turkeys, or bear, needs to possess in order to bring a trophy home. 


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