Ralph Cianciarulo On Black Bears, Part I

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ralph Cianciarulo of Lanark, Illinois, is a professional bowhunter and the host of the "Archer's Choice" TV show. He enjoys the art of stalking bears with a bow.

QUESTION: Tell us about two of the baddest bears you've ever taken.
ANSWER: One of the first bears that I encountered in Ontario, Canada, walked into a bait site. I had about 45 to 50 pounds of meat scraps on my back. I was on a narrow thoroughfare between two big cedar swamps. I came in, and the bear was on the bait, but I didn't know it because a deadfall blocked my view. I was about 10 feet from the bait site when the bear stood up. Then he whooped, and I made some vocalizations that I can't talk about. He came over the deadfall charging -- a mock charge.

Often a black bear will try to ram you and run you down. Needless to say, I stood my ground and threw my backpack off because it was full of what the bear wanted. He wasn't really after the meat or the bait. I startled him. And he did a heck of a job startling me. Low and behold it was a one-on-one confrontation -- probably one of the worst I've ever had. He came within five feet of me. He kept on whooping and jumping.

As the bear threw his head back and forth, saliva was flying. I didn't know if it was his saliva or mine. I just kept screaming and saying some words that aren't written in the Bible. But as long as I kept waving my hands in the air to show him I was bigger (even though I wasn't), he backed off a bit. When he backed off, he walked backwards, never letting me out of his sight and constantly whooping. I never turned and gave him my backside. I just kept walking backward. I walked into a few trees and screamed to let him have it. He was about 60- to 70-yards away.

I could've won the summer Olympics with the dash I made. About 3 or 4 days later I shot a bear; she had over a 20-inch skull. And the bear from the previous day was there; that was his bait. He was protecting it. In many areas where you see a bear and come into an active site when you see the bait is buried, a big boar (a dominant boar) will defecate and urinate all over the area. He will bury the bait and come back to visit it all the time. That's when you realize that you are dealing with a mature, aggressive bear. That was probably one of my most enlightening bear hunts.