American Hunter - December 2013 - 36

openingday
Powered

By Ram

T

he season begins with  of us staring at a net of rhododendron that
rises steeply to meet a lead-colored
sky. Before long we will thrash our
way through the tangled trunks
and branches, metering our toilsome progress with boisterous shouts of triumph and
profanity, but for now utter silence rings in
our ears. The seemingly impossible task
that lies before us weighs heavily on our
minds. Our hope is to bust a bear or two on
this slope, but we'll settle for finishing the
drive with unbroken bones and rifles. The
odds of either happening are substantially
less than /.
We know there are easier ways to kill a
black bear. We could go west in the spring
when the bruins are stuffing their stomachs with new grass, find one in the open
and shoot it. Or head north and spend a
few days lounging in a treestand until a
trophy poses over a pile of syrup-laced
pastries. Even team up with a dog man
and let his hounds do most of the work for

us. All are sound tactics but none are legal
in Pennsylvania, so we embrace earning
our bear rugs through lots of sweat, some
blood and the occasional tear when a
whippy rhododendron branch connects
just right with a sensitive body part.
More than any of us care to admit, our
struggles are as necessary to the hunt as
the bears. We're two dozen men rapidly
approaching middle age who sometimes
need to prove-to ourselves and our buddies-we can hunt as hard as we did in college. We still own this mountainside, extra
pounds, desk jobs and kids notwithstanding.
Bears choose to live in this mess, and we
choose to hunt them here. Because we can.
And so with cries that echo through the
narrow valley, half of us push forward, carrying Winchester and Marlin lever-actions,
Remington s and s, knowing any
shot we get at a bear will be fleeting and
iron-sight close. On the other side of a halfmile stretch of rhododendron, the rest of
our friends wait expectantly in an evenly
  ❘

spaced line that stretches across the height
of the mountain. They're the ones with the
best chances. We'll drive any bears holed
up in the dense cover between us right into
their laps. Gunfire is never a sure sign of
success, but it quickens our steps. A blast
that connects with a bruin brings collective
glory. Individual accomplishment takes a
back seat to that of the team. We don't do
this alone.
The longtime leader of our gang groups
his acquaintances-and oftentimes society as a whole-into two categories: those
who hunt bear with us, and those who do
not. It is at once a simple and profound
measurement that speaks to the types of
bonds forged only when success is limited
but efforts are tremendous. Those of us
crawling through the dank rhododendron
on this late-November morning hunt
bear. We owe it to one another to make
opening day.
Adam Heggenstaller,

 ❘ .

Editor in Chief, Shooting Illustrated

Photo: Donald M. Jones

We Hunt Bear


http://www.americanhunter.org

American Hunter - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2013

Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover2
American Hunter - December 2013 - 1
American Hunter - December 2013 - Contents
American Hunter - December 2013 - 3
American Hunter - December 2013 - 4
American Hunter - December 2013 - 5
American Hunter - December 2013 - 6
American Hunter - December 2013 - 7
American Hunter - December 2013 - 8
American Hunter - December 2013 - 9
American Hunter - December 2013 - 10
American Hunter - December 2013 - 11
American Hunter - December 2013 - 12
American Hunter - December 2013 - 13
American Hunter - December 2013 - 14
American Hunter - December 2013 - 15
American Hunter - December 2013 - 16
American Hunter - December 2013 - 17
American Hunter - December 2013 - 18
American Hunter - December 2013 - 19
American Hunter - December 2013 - 20
American Hunter - December 2013 - 21
American Hunter - December 2013 - 22
American Hunter - December 2013 - 23
American Hunter - December 2013 - 24
American Hunter - December 2013 - 25
American Hunter - December 2013 - 26
American Hunter - December 2013 - 27
American Hunter - December 2013 - 28
American Hunter - December 2013 - 29
American Hunter - December 2013 - 30
American Hunter - December 2013 - 31
American Hunter - December 2013 - 32
American Hunter - December 2013 - 33
American Hunter - December 2013 - 34
American Hunter - December 2013 - 35
American Hunter - December 2013 - 36
American Hunter - December 2013 - 37
American Hunter - December 2013 - 38
American Hunter - December 2013 - 39
American Hunter - December 2013 - 40
American Hunter - December 2013 - 41
American Hunter - December 2013 - 42
American Hunter - December 2013 - 43
American Hunter - December 2013 - 44
American Hunter - December 2013 - 45
American Hunter - December 2013 - 46
American Hunter - December 2013 - 47
American Hunter - December 2013 - 48
American Hunter - December 2013 - 49
American Hunter - December 2013 - 50
American Hunter - December 2013 - 51
American Hunter - December 2013 - 52
American Hunter - December 2013 - 53
American Hunter - December 2013 - 54
American Hunter - December 2013 - 55
American Hunter - December 2013 - 56
American Hunter - December 2013 - 57
American Hunter - December 2013 - 58
American Hunter - December 2013 - 59
American Hunter - December 2013 - 60
American Hunter - December 2013 - 61
American Hunter - December 2013 - 62
American Hunter - December 2013 - 63
American Hunter - December 2013 - 64
American Hunter - December 2013 - 65
American Hunter - December 2013 - 66
American Hunter - December 2013 - 67
American Hunter - December 2013 - 68
American Hunter - December 2013 - 69
American Hunter - December 2013 - 70
American Hunter - December 2013 - 71
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American Hunter - December 2013 - 88
American Hunter - December 2013 - 89
American Hunter - December 2013 - 90
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American Hunter - December 2013 - 112
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover3
American Hunter - December 2013 - Cover4
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