Since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve always had a desire to see the world and experience God’s creation to the fullest. There are many places I would like to visit for various reasons, but one of the front-runners has always been Alaska. To experience “The Last Frontier” would be a dream. Recently, that dream came true.
When I think about Alaska I think of a pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife. Fortunately, I missed the extremely frigid temps and touched down right as things were greening up. I did not, however, figure out a way to get around the constant daylight. I love the sunshine, but the people of Alaska are to be commended for their sleep habits!
While I loved my sightseeing, I went there on a mission. You see, this past February at the NWTF show, it came up in conversation with my good friend and outdoor producer, Nate DeLong, that I’ve never had an opportunity to harvest a bear—something that I really wanted to accomplish this year. Before I knew it, he had called some friends and we booked a plane ticket to Alaska for a bear hunt. I was thrilled, and the countdown and planning began! I immediately began sifting through my hunting clothes and practiced drawing my bow back, sitting, kneeling, etc. so I would be prepared for whatever came my way. And yes, I over packed! (Like I said, I just like to be prepared.)
We landed in Alaska at around 9 p.m. It looked like noon in sunny Florida. Nate and I were greeted by our guides, Bob and Peyton, and we were off to get dinner and a good night’s rest before departing for camp the next day. Only one problem: Nate’s bags didn’t make it. I guess it was a good thing I over packed. (Haha, no, no—I would never do that to him.) Luckily, cameras and clothes arrived the next day, and after purchasing our tags we headed for camp. On the way in we decided to check a few of the “honey-holes,” as Nate and Bob assured me we would see a bear or two. They were right—bears were everywhere!
Having never bear hunted, or been to Alaska, I had no idea what to expect other than what Nate had shared with me about when exactly we would hunt. So, at about 7 p.m. on the first night at camp, with bow and camera in hand, we loaded up and headed out for my very first bear hunt. We hunted until 2 a.m.! We were hunting out of ground blinds, so I got to experience the bears up close and personal; we even had a few stick their noses in the blind. Each time we walked into the woods and headed toward the blind, bears were all around us, and mosquitoes all over us. I found myself frequently saying, “Thank you, Lord, for ThermaCELL!”
We were going to be there for 10 days, so I was excited about seeing a lot of bears and getting to know how to distinguish an "average" bear from a really good bear. I have a tendency to be a bit selective when it comes to my trophies. My parents have always told me to never settle, and I guess I carried that life lesson over to hunting. I really believe in the importance of game management. I told myself coming into this trip that I was not going to leave empty handed—I just wanted to take a respectable representative of the species.
Each afternoon I left camp confident my guides Bob and Peyton were sending me to a spot where only the best bears roamed. I knew I was bound to come across one of them; it was just a matter of time. On May 30, 2011, at 11 p.m. in the middle of an intense game of Yahtzee, a big sow was on the bait. Then, my moment of truth finally arrived. The sow tore out of the woods with a vengeance and my heart began to pound, and I knew that could only mean one thing: I looked to my left and saw the boar of the woods strolling in.
I immediately reached for my bow, which was loaded for bear with my Carbon Express Maxima arrow, tipped with my hot pink Tekan broadhead, compliments of Tiffany Lakosky. Between the good luck charms Tiffany sent me and all my prayers, this bear didn’t stand a chance to be anything but on the ground. Nate quickly said, “Ains, that’s a really good bear. You should probably think about taking him.” But I was already prepared to draw—all I needed was that perfect shot. The big boar walked straight in like he owned the place. As he stretched out I centered my sight in the sweet spot behind his shoulder, said a little prayer, and like the saying goes: That was all she wrote (or he wrote, in this case)!
At 20 yards I found my “prize bear” stretched out on the side of a hill that overlooked the most beautiful landscape. It was an incredible moment for me, and I couldn’t help but say, “God is good!” With his beautiful black coat and blonde muzzle, the big bear was nothing less than magnificent. “Thrilled” is an understatement for what I felt at that moment, and the best part is that it was all caught on camera. BBD (big bear down) for Ainsley B! But the trip wasn’t over yet.
After many pictures, field dressing, a great dinner and a good night’s rest, we headed out again … except this time I was behind the camera. Just 2 days later, Nate also harvested his biggest bear to date. Let me tell you, it’s just as exciting and nerve racking behind the camera as being behind the bow. Bob, Peyton and a few of our other friends also got really great bears, totaling seven big bears down by the end of the hunt.
The bears were just icing on the cake for this trip, though. As I flew across Alaska back to Baton Rouge, I found myself extremely thankful for the fellowship with wonderful new friends, and an even deeper appreciation for the Lord’s creation. All I could think was, “… your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Thanks for letting me share the story of my first bear hunt with you. To see more pictures and keep up with all of my exciting adventures, be sure to “Like” my Ainsley Beeman (Business Person) Facebook page.
As always, God bless and good hunting,
P.S. It’s summertime. Who’s ready to go fishing?!