Plans for my hunt actually began in January 2000, while I was riding with my dad. He always gave me a hard time about drinking too much Mountain Dew. To curb my caffeine addiction he suggested sending me on my dream polar bear bow hunt. That is, he agreed to pay for the hunt if I refrained from drinking caffeinated soda for the rest of my life. This was the chance of a lifetime! I agreed, of course, and contacted Canada North Outfitters to book a hunt in Resolute Northwest Territories, Canada, for Spring 2003. Over the next few years my father was as excited as I was about my hunt. He told anyone who would listen how his son was going to hunt polar bears. On Feb. 28, 2003, the day finally arrived..
Madison, Wisconsin, and arrived in Resolute at 2:30 p.m. on March 1. The temperature was minus minus 38 farenheit. I met my guide Natt before being fit for caribou clothing for our arctic adventure. I also met my assistant guide Musho, and Natt's son Greg, who'd be accompanying us. At 7 p.m. the wind chill was between minus 80 and minus 90 degrees farenheit. No one was sure if we'd be able to hunt the next day.
Even though March 2 appeared to be a sunny day, Natt said the weather forecast called for a 2-day blizzard with 31 to 44 mph winds. Needless to say, there was no hunting that day. Still, I wanted to practice my shooting in those temperatures. I found that my bow shoots the same from 158 degrees to minus 58 degrees farenheit.
On March 3, I had to move out of the motel. Because all the rooms were full, I moved into the manager's house. The weather was unbelievable at minus 62 farenheit, and the winds kept gusting from 31 to 44 mph. But at 9 p.m. the winds finally stopped blowing.
Yet white-out conditions greeted me on March 4. We couldn't see beyond 50 yards all day, and meteorologists forecast a 5-day blizzard. I was getting cabin fever! There was nothing to do besides sleep, eat and lay around.
Weather conditions weren't much better on March 5. We still had very strong winds and meteorologists were forecasting severe weather for the next 2 days. I could only sit and wait to walk over for meals and think about the hunting days I'd lost. For 3 years I'd waited for this trip, and now I couldn't go outside because of the weather.
I woke up to another white-out on March 6. I couldn't see anything! Natt didn't even come over that morning to report the bad news. At 11 a.m., though, the weather broke, the sun came out and I could see clear across the arctic ice. Only a half-hour passed before Natt showed up and informed me we would set out at 2 p.m. He suggested I have something to eat for lunch and get ready to go. Yet at 12:30 p.m. the wind started blowing, and by 1 p.m. I couldn't see a thing. Once again the first day of my hunt was postponed. Still, tomorrow's weather was supposed to get better.
Finally, on March 7, the weather was clear and we left to go out on the ice. It had been 6 long days in Resolute. Despite all the people, I'd felt completely alone with snow and ice as far as I could see. I got on the dog sled around 12:30 p.m. My ride was peaceful with the lulling sound of sled runners going over ice. I even saw my first set of bear tracks on the ice, but they were too old to follow. We rode the dog sled until 7:30 p.m. before deciding to stop for the night and set up camp. It was a new experience for me to camp on the ice, but to my surprise the tent was warm considering it was only minus 40 degrees outside. Unfortunately, though, the temperature inside the tent would fall about 20 degrees every time someone went outside.
After a good night's sleep, I got up early on March 8 in anticipation for the hunt. Natt told me a bear had come into camp around midnight. At 7:30 a.m. he'd gone outside to see if the bear was still near our camp. He located the bear about 1 mile away, and we found his tracks from the night before to determine his size. Natt thought he might be 8½ feet, and suggested we go after him. We all hurried to get the dogs harnessed up. Soon, we got on the sled; the dogs were excited and moving at a fast pace. When the bear was in sight, Natt released two of the dogs to slow it down. We quickly closed the distance because all the dogs had seen or winded the bear. I had to remove my caribou skin jacket as we were moving so I'd be ready to shoot. The bear went up on an ice jam and over the other side while the dogs were in hot pursuit. Suddenly, one of the dogs stopped behind an ice jam ahead of us when we were within 50 yards of the bear. As we rounded the corner, the bear was 15 yards to the left. I jumped off the sled and nocked an arrow. At first the bear didn't give me a shot, so I waited for a slight quartering-away shot. When he turned, I shot through both lungs and the arrow passed through the other side. It was only a matter of seconds before the bear died. I stepped the distance off and determined it was 12 yards. According to Natt, it was only the second time one of his hunters had killed a bear on the first morning of his hunt.
The bear was later measured at 9 feet, and is my proudest trophy to date. The only sad part to this hunting story is that my father passed away on April 27, 2002, so he was unable to experience my excitement, or see my bear. Thank you, Dad.