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Bear Hunting with Our Next Generation

Austin and Suzy with Austin's 2020 Spring Black BearI had an exceedingly refreshing hunting experience this past spring-bear season. In camp we had 2 youths; one was a 12-year-old boy, Austin, who was hunting with his father, the other was my 18-year-old daughter, Suzy, who was our camp cook. It was the first big game hunt of any kind for Austin, whose father acted as the mentor of the hunt—teaching and advising his son on everything from nature to firearms to camp etiquette.

This spring was Suzy’s first experience with hunting, too. Suzy grew up in Eastern Bolivia where girls don’t hunt, though wild game meat is a large part of the rural population’s diet and she had eaten quite a variety of it growing up. Since this year is Suzy’s first time to the United States, these are her first impressions. At the start of bear season, Suzy had little interest in hunting, and she could not comprehend the concept of hunting for sport. Why would anyone travel far and spend money to hunt when they already had plenty to eat?

The one other person in camp was an experienced big game hunter who had already taken several color phase bears and was specifically after a cinnamon bear on this trip. He shot one on the first evening. Suzy, Austin, and his father accompanied the hunter and I the morning after the bear was taken to skin it out in the woods. The walk there was quite exhilarating as we had to cross a raging stream on a fallen log to reach the bait site. This would be the first time Suzy had ever seen a bear. She was in awe with the bear’s beauty and thrilled with the overall experience. In the following days, she started paying more attention to the father and son, and noticed they were having fun together outside and by being challenged by the elements. On the 4th evening Austin shot a black boar which was larger than the other hunter’s cinnamon bear. Suzy now saw how the competition and challenge for bigger bears and different colors of bears played into the scheme of sport hunting—and she liked it—along with the camaraderie.

Competition, challenge, and camaraderie are as natural to the human condition as eating meat. I had been teaching Suzy how handle handguns for personal defense, but now she wants a rifle so she can go bear hunting with her dad, too. I’ll be working on that shortly.

Congratulations to Suzy and Austin for everything they learned! It was so much more than a bear hunt.

Good hunting,

Joe Cavanaugh

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