2008 Black Bear Hunt

Gary Temple
May 28, 2008
7 foot 4.5 inch bear
Toby's Trophy Treks, Saskatchewan, Canada

Casey Kling
May 29, 2008
6 foot 1.5 inch bear
Toby's Trophy Treks, Saskatchewan, Canada

"Away back in [2008], when [Saskatchewan] was a baby province, and great forests of tall trees and tangled underbrush darkened what are now her bright plains and sunny hills, there stood upon the east bank of [Emma Lake], a mile or two north of the point where that stream crosses the [Christopher Lake] road, a cozy log cabin of two rooms--one front and one back.

The house faced the west and stretching off toward
[Emma Lake] for a distance equal to twice the width of an ordinary street, was a blue-grass lawn, upon which stood a dozen or more elm and sycamore trees, with a few [Saskatoon berries] here and there. Immediately at the water's edge was a steep slop of ten or twelve feet. Back of the house, mile upon mile, stretched the deep dark forest, inhabited by deer and bears, wolves and wildcats, squirrels and birds, without number."*

Jamie Poole

We had been going into the stand twice a day since Monday, May 26, 2008. For now I will call it the Fisher stand named after the Fisher farm. The normal schedule is to get into the stand around 10:00 A.M. and stay there until 1:00 P. M. The evening hunt is usually from about 5:00 P. M. until dark or about 9:40 P. M. I had sat in my stand twice Monday and again Tuesday morning. They had not bothered the bait at the stand Tuesday morning. Jamie Poole had found scat which showed to him there being possibly two bears.

We arrived again at the Fisher farm area about 5:30 P. M. and Jamie took me by four wheeler into the stand. The farm fields are beautiful and rolling with small interlaced areas of brush or “the bush.” Driving toward the area on the farm, the gentle field turns into the “bush” and the world changes.

At 7:32 P.M. from the left side of the bait stand came the first ghost. Try as I often have, spotting a bear is extremely rare before they make their appearance. This one stepped right out onto the path and turned right to walk up to the barrel. He was very wary and nervous. Walking up almost to the barrel, the bear turned to his left and came back to a plastic bucket sitting on the shelf of a tree. Here in the bucket were the first morsels of corn, dog food, oats and molasses. Also, hanging in the same immediate area were napkins with bacon grease. Sniffing around the bear turned toward the stand and came up to the barrel.

When I first saw the bear, I stood quietly and picked up my bow. The arrow was already nocked and I attached my release. Slightly having to shift my weight to reach the bow caused the metal stand quietly to groan. The bear heard the sound from the stand. Carefully he plodded up toward the barrel but stopped short of it. He turned from the barrel and went back to the five gallon bucket sitting on the ledge of the tree. Stopping, the bear knew I was there. Looking toward me he even noticed the slight movement of my nocked arrow tip. An unfortunate branch partially hid the bucket hanging down but more troublesome for an archer was a smaller branch. The branch area and smaller one did not offer a shot. Ambling nervously back farther he returned to his entry spot about fifty yards away and looked back. Finally he stood up on his hind feet and appeared to look past me up behind my treestand. His look was so intense it caused me to turn around and look behind me as well. He turned and then left the area. Later Jamie and Aaron felt he was looking at me while trying to wind me as well.

"But the unexpected usually happens, at an unexpected time, and in an unexpected manner."*

Feeling he might return I patiently waited. About 8:32 P.M. I thought the same bear had come back. The same bear now appeared from the far back and right. I could see the bear’s back leg and stomach line as he stood back in the trees. The same bear had not returned, for the walk of this bear was entirely different. Gone was the nervous approach, replaced with a slow roll if not the waddling of a large bear. Bow now in hand, I attempted to remain calm. The bear came from the right side and up to the five gallon bucket. The same wonderful spot hidden by the infamous tree branches. This one was king and he knew it. He stopped at the plastic bucket on the shelf and sniffed it. Leaning forward he looked out and knew I was there. I lifted my bow arm toward him while not drawing back and he saw it. Turning back under the branches, he now stopped at a napkin dipped in bacon grease. About a five inch space in the branches showed a perfect quartering away shot but the distance was now about 28 to 30 yards. The unknown prospect of the “golden branch” was present in my mind. Small branches unseen at first become great deflectors of the arrow after its release. Something bothered him again and now he ambled away much to my disappointment.

The bear stopped back at almost the same spot where I had first seen him. Standing behind a tree trunk the view from my side was actually hilarious. Each side of the bear stuck out of each side of the tree with his big head slightly behind it. I said to myself, “Come on big boy.” I prayed to all of the Gods I knew and some of them I did not know as well. He wanted to hit the bait barrel again but knew something was there. Hunger overcame caution and he started walking forward.

Carefully again he started walking the right side of the stand area to the plastic bucket on the shelf. I knew I needed to be ready. This time I knew when the branches hid his head as he approached was the time to draw my bow back and wait. This time I needed him to make just one mistake. He again sniffed the plastic bucket on the shelf which I had ranged at twenty four yards. At the shelf his shoulder was not exposed but finally he stepped forward exposing my spot. I used my twenty yard pin on my sight but also felt he was over the distance so I slightly raised it. I had picked my spot on the bear and did not look at his snout or anything else. This hunter had one purpose in mind. Instinct came in and the arrow was released.

Left to right: Aaron Poole and Gary Temple

Normally, but again what is normal with an archery hunt? I saw the arrow going after my release and in my mind waited for the hiss after the hit. The arrow reached its mark and the reaction was immense but not quite what I expected. He let out a large growling wail one which could be heard in Texas. So loud in fact this archer raised his arms as if almost blown back by the sound. Somersaulting from the hit, he flipped on his back with his four feet in the air against the log. After the first tumble, he then started to spin on his side. I knew it was a spine shot so I reached back for my quiver. Glancing back toward the bear while reaching for the quiver I watched him move off with his front feet and dragging his rear legs. I grabbed my camera and got some hurried shots of him going off. The area again was alive with the loud snapping of branches and I could see him biting back at his side. I waited for a “death moan” from the bear but all I heard was the snapping. Finally after marking my watch I called my outfitter, Jamie Poole, to ask him to come into the stand.

After I called Jamie on the radio, I attempted to calm myself. Having watched folks get really excited after shooting deer on the outdoor shows but with deer it had not really happened to me. I was shaking and there was no doubt about it. Jamie arrived and finally I got down off the stand. Now I was ready and we checked his trail. At the shot location we found the broken shaft of the arrow. It had been broken in two places but there was still a major portion of the arrow still in the bear including the broad head.

Moving cautiously, we followed the trail of the bear and right away encountered blood. Large amounts of blood then appeared and I began to wonder. It sure seemed to me like more blood than usual. We went down the trail until we came to a mud stream. Jamie crossed briefly and went out of sight behind the next tree. I stood there and suddenly heard a tremendous breaking of branches. Jamie came back to tell me how he also heard the breaking of the branches. He came to an edge of a clearing but could not see the bear. We decided to back off. We went over the blurry photographs at the lodge, then the doubts set in and it was a long night. Could I have hit him farther back? Was it a bad shot? Sleeping was not much of an option and the next morning was slow in coming.

This year included my new nephew in law to be, Casey Kling as his hunt was he and Emily’s wedding present from Marylee and me. Casey could have opted to go out to a stand but the next morning all four of us were to go on the recovery. The four of us were Jamie Poole and his son, Aaron, Casey and I. Casey took my camera to record the events and I asked him to take more pictures than he thought he needed.

Left to right: Jamie Poole, Gary Temple and Aaron Poole

Note the "cuff" indentations in the trail by the bear just using his front legs. The "cuff" marks were in some cases as deep as four inches or better. The deep tracks showed the immense power and strength of this impressive bear.

"The Mud Stream"

Following the trail to the mud stream, we crossed over. After the clearing we entered a large swamp. The blood trail became faint and we lost it several times.

The clearing before entering the area of the edge of the large swamp.

Gary Temple

Aaron Poole

Left to right: Jamie Poole, Gary Temple and Aaron Poole
Jamie and Aaron moved forward checking the brush carefully. Soon Jamie motioned to me to come forward.

Jamie Poole

Aaron Poole

Slowly I could see the bear off to the right. I knew the bear was big when he approached the night before but I had avoided looking him over again as he came into the stand for I did not want any mistakes. I did not want thoughts of a trophy or a bear rug in my mind for then I knew it would all be gone. I wanted to shoot the bear. The black mass got bigger as I approached. He turned toward us and we could see he was sitting in a large pool of water and moss.

Left to right: Jamie Poole and Gary Temple
Distance was about 15 to 17 yards.

When we were getting ready to leave, Aaron had told me the night before to take as many arrows as my quiver could hold. Fortunately when I came to Canada I brought a hip quiver. The total number arrows now became nine. The bear turned his head toward me and I saw the large tan snout, the mantled head and just said, “Here we go!” My first arrow was good in its intentions except again for the “golden branch” effect. As I released the arrow, the infamous branch appeared and I watched the arrow glance up. The arrow went by the head of the bear and lodged in the tree behind him. I saw him look at the arrow in acknowledgment as it went by and then back at me. The bear was also grabbing at his side.
He turned quartering away from me and my second arrow was released. Aaron said, “You missed.” I told him I did not think so for I heard the entry sound but the bear did not react. Later we realized he was paralyzed in his hind quarters. I nocked another arrow and through the mass of branches this one missed the bear and went down field. Moving around to my right I nocked another arrow and was able to take the shot. This time I connected and it hit the lung area. This time the bear was bellowing and the whole swamp was alive with his sounds. The death moan was in process.

Left to right: Aaron Poole, Gary Temple and Jamie Poole
Now the events of my two days in the stand came to reality for me. This bear was a hog and the more I watched Jamie and Aaron the more excited I got. I could also see the excitement in Jamie and Aaron in the size of the bear. Aaron and Jamie guide rifle hunters as well but they are both tried and true archers. The big old toad squared out at seven feet, four and one half inches. The skull green scored at 19.875 inches.

Casey Kling and Gary Temple

Left to right: Aaron Poole, Gary Temple and Jamie Poole
May 28, 2008

I am amazed and this has to be one of my favorite photographs. glt

Jamie Poole and Aaron Poole do the measuring. Paw to paw he was 7 foot 7 inches. Nose to tail he was 7 foot 2 inches. He had a girth measurement of 55 inches which on a large bear is taken times a factor of 6.5 so he would be estimated at a weight of just under 360 pounds.

This year included my new nephew in law to be, Casey Kling as his hunt was he and Emily’s wedding present from Marylee and me. One afternoon I offered to my niece as a wedding present a bear hunt in Canada. “Oh Uncle Gary, this is not a wedding present.” I grinned to myself and thought I was off the hook. A couple of weeks later my niece called back to ask if the offer was still good. I cautiously confirmed it was and asked her why? She told me how Casey had heard about it and thought it was better than sliced bread. More costly than I had expected for a wedding present, I had a hunch it would be a way to get to know my new nephew in law.

“The strangers felt grateful to the boy who had given them such timely help,
and asked him what they could do for him in return.

Balser hesitated a moment, and said, 'There's only one things I want very bad,
but that would cost so much there's no use to speak of it.'

'What is it, Balser? Speak up, and if it is anything I can buy, you shall have it.'

'A gun! A gun! A smooth-bore carbine. I'd rather have it than anything else in the world.'

'You shall have it if there's one to be bought in [Saskatoon]. We are going there,
and will return within a week or ten days, and you shall have your carbine if I can find one.'

Within two weeks after this conversation Balser was the happiest boy in [Saskatchewan],
for he owned a carbine, ten pounds of fine powder, and lead enough
to kill every living creature within a radius of five miles.”*

Casey Kling and Aaron Poole

Tuesday morning, Casey took me aside with a serious look on his face. “Say Gary, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this hunt.” As far as I was concerned if the week ended right there it was a success.

Wednesday night Aaron and Casey went to a new rifle hut which was an old dump site where a bait barrel was placed. A bear had been working the bait and so they hoped for the best. After four hours in the hut the bear had not shown.The next morning they conducted a strategy session. Jamie and Aaron decided Casey should go to The Triangle. The Triangle consisted of three bait stands. Casey and Aaron would be placed in the center stand with it being replenished. They would not refresh the other two stands and those were stripped of any morsels.

I was back in the stand where I had hunted two years ago. At the beginning of the week two years ago, my hunting partner did not have confidence in his bow. He passed on a medium size bear of six and some half feet. Later in the week he took a larger bear with a rifle. It was clear to me even though he was a bow hunter instructor how he had no confidence in his abilities.Familiar with the stand, I wondered how the events would play out during my four hours in the stand. One can always count on an occasional brief nap based upon the weather. This was my third season and my time in the stand was never boring. Fondly I remembered how a bear came into the stand at approximately 12:30 P. M. two years ago. He walked right under the stand at about six yards. I whispered to my partner about the bear. Feverishly he scanned the surroundings at a sixty yard radius and could not see it. Again I told him about the bear and finally punched him on the side of the leg and pointed down. The medium sized bear was following a small brown bear which appeared to be a female. The black bear walked toward the barrel and my partner kept giving excuses as to it being too small and it had a rub mark. Hind sight is always twenty twenty and I should have just reached for my bow. Unfortunately we had agreed to him taking the first shot when we were in the stand. The rest of the week I hunted by myself but was faced with bad weather. The last night of my hunt, a bear came in and my muzzle loader failed. One thing for sure I got my moneys worth in 2006.

"There they stood, the boy and the bear,
each eying the other as though they were the best of friends,
and would like to eat each other, which, in fact, was literally true."*

At about 12:30 P. M., I wondered if the same thing would happen. To my amazement, from the path to my right walked a young bear. Earlier I had refrained from my using my digital SLR camera due to the shutter sound. I decided to test the camera and before I knew it, I had the attention of the bear. He came over to the stand and I got some wonderful photographs at twelve feet or less. I laughed to myself what a photograph it would make of the bear and I, me down on the floor of the stand photographing the bear and he looking up at me.

Suddenly the bear got concerned and at first I thought he might have winded me but soon found out to the contrary. He moved out for a young and cantankerous bear who had come into the stand. The bear started working with a five gallon bucket with a lid on it containing dog food. This bear needed to move along, so I clapped my hands and shouted at it. Picking up the radio I called Aaron and told him there was activity on the trail. Sitting at my stand, I could only hope for a result. Soon I heard the shot of a modern rifle and kept my fingers crossed. Finally on the radio Aaron called, “Mr. Temple, your nephew just got himself a fine bear.”Jamie picked me up at my stand and we went to the successful hunter. The look on Casey’s face was priceless when I saw him with his bear. Casey proudly told me how he wants to come back in 2010 to hunt bear with a bow. (Unfortunately for him, Casey Kling has never returned.)

Casey Kling with the bait barrel in the background where he took his bear.

Casey Kling and Jamie Poole

Gary Temple and Casey Kling
May 29, 2008
"I am not sure who is more proud............."glt

Left to right: Jamie Poole, Casey Kling and Aaron Poole

"They were glad to go home, but it was with a touch of sadness,
when they passed around the bend in the creek,
that they said, 'Good-by' to their 'Castle on
[Emma Lake]."*

*Quotes amended from "The Bears of Blue River" by Charles Major; The MacMillan Company, London, 1922. Pages 3, 22, 33, 37 and 277.


I would like to thank Jamie Poole, Mavis Poole, and Aaron Poole at Toby’s Trophy Treks in Christopher Lakes, Saskatchewan for a wonderful event. This is my third year with them and they have been superb. Every hunt with them has been exciting and never the same other than when I take a nap in the stand. This is a top notch outfit and if you are ever inclined to hunt black bears in Canada this is the place.

Second, I would like to thank the man in the aisle behind me on the airplane on my flight out of Saskatoon in 2004. I believe he was from Texas. After having a poor hunt with an outfitter I was finally on a plane home. In the row behind me a man was talking about his wonderful hunt. By the way when I say a terrible hunt it had nothing to do with the birds but just the service. I introduced myself and asked whom he had hunted with and he pulled out a business card from Toby’s Trophy Treks. He also told me how this was his seventh year with them.

Third, I would like to thank T. J. Smith and his staff at Superior Archery in Billings, Montana. They have always been right there to assist me with my archery needs.

Gary L. Temple
June 1, 2008

Toby's Trophy Treks
Owners: Jamie and Mavis Poole
Head Guide: Aaron Poole

P. O. Box 280
Christopher Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada SOJ ONO
Telephone: 306-982-2747
Website: http://www.trophytreks.com
Superior Archery
"Your Archery Store"
T. J. Smith
1680 Lockwood Road
Billings, Montana 59101
Telephone: 406-245-0087
Website: http://superiorarcherymt.com