An Outfitters Wife – Cacilia Wardale
I’d not grown up around hunting, but in the last year it has become a sport I have lived vicariously through my partner and best friend Al. Although I’d grown up spending much of my time outdoors, the dream of a chance at a beautiful blonde bear has been born recently of hearing hunting tales and experiences from Al. I decided to borrow this sport as I wanted to try this new sport and exciting test of nerves for myself!
Following my Hunter Education course this past winter, and much time at the range in early spring, I got my first hunting license, and obtained two bear tags. We were going Bear Hunting! Our first day out showed 6 bears, including a sow with three cubs but the evening ended without a shot fired. An day later that week though turned out much more interesting. The kind of evening I’d always heard about over roaring campfires…
Our first stalk on a feeding bear ended with the bear losing patience and slipping back into the woods and with us beside a borrow-pit encircled with aspen. While hoping for the black to return, we listened to beavers slapping tails feverishly in the water 50 yards away, and figured that there was either a bear or wolves at the pond. While walking in, a grey wolf flashed passed in the dense tangle of willow about 10 yards away followed by another! We caught glimpses through the trees, and since I hadn’t yet the courage to make a shot on a running wolf, Al worked his way to the borrow-pit while I went back to the trail. After a few minutes of waiting I finally watched as the wolves made their way back across the trail and off into the brush on the other side, glancing curiously at me as they did. A first encounter for me!
Cacilia Wardale with an Alberta Bear Limit!
Not long after that through, we spotted another black at 400 yards and feeding towards us. With the wind in our face, we snuck closer and moved single-file when the bears head was down. At 200 yards we decided that was as good as it was going to get, but the bear was still feeding closer. We watched and waited and the bear closed to 150 yards. From a crouched position, I steadied my rifle on Al’s forearm as he held the shooting stick low and braced for the shot. Coached to “break its shoulder”, I fired when the bear turned broadside, sending the bear into the air and running for the woods, jumping a 6’ wide creek in the process. I had been terrified of the kick of the rifle as well as the blast, but with the blood rushing through my ears and my heart pounding it all happened so swiftly I couldn’t believe it was over. We found the bear just inside the woods, dead and with one broken shoulder, “shot perfectly” as Al would say. Although slightly rubbed, the bear squared 5 ½ feet and a fine first animal. One of the best things for me was hearing the love of my life and long time hunter giggle gleefully with pride and amazement as we packed the bear out of the woods. Already a perfect evening and yet we elected to load the bear up whole and keep going as there was plenty of hunting left in the evening. And we were right….
10 minutes passed after we got moving again, and we spotted another black bear at 350 yards. We got out and moved to a better vantage point to deliberate, and as we watched, a blonde colored black bear surfaced from a depression, feeding towards us at 75 yards! I was so excited and couldn’t help jumping out of my skin at having found my blonde on only my second day! We deduced that it wasn’t a grizzly, although the color could have been, and Al told me it was just the color I’d hoped for. He was sure right about that! Using my forked shooting stick again, I fired, hitting the bear on the near shoulder, and exiting on the neck as the bear held its head low, facing away. It dropped in an instant and never moved. A beautiful bear, taken again with one shot from my .270. The exceptional colored bear was right on 5’, no rubbing and will make a beautiful mount.
We loaded the second bear and drove to a quiet spot to swat mosquitoes and skin them out. I couldn’t help giggling to myself “first time hunter, one-shot kills…” Al said he wished all his clients shot this well.
I really enjoyed my first experience with hunting, and feel good about the way I went about it. Al was there throughout the experience and coaching towards success, but the choices and end results were ultimately my own. This sport that I “borrowed” is full of rewards for those that participate and I feel lucky to have taken part. I think this is one borrowed item that shouldn’t be returned, but is best when shared.
Al & Cacilia Wardale run Moose Country Outfitting in Alberta Canada and offer Black Bear Hunting in the Peace River area. You can get more information on Alberta Black Bear Hunting by following this link.
For more information on Alberta Bear Hunting, click the active link - Bear Hunting Blog