Nov 27, 2011

Tom Harrison's Mattamuskeet Bear Hunt

We had unseasonably mild weather for the first half of our first split of bear season with highs approaching the 80’s and a plague of mosquitoes.  In the 20 years of bear hunting at Mattamuskeet the most bears I have seen sitting on a stand in bear season was nine.  Opening morning I saw 32!  We have more bears than ever before, but we are overwhelmed with sows and cubs.  Although we did not see a big bear, Hunter Park’s guest Mike Fulcher took a 574 lb. bear with hounds opening morning!  Later that day Mike shot a nice 8 point buck, so they had a great time.  Hunter’s second guest shot a management sow, as did one of Bill’s guests.
However, it wasn’t until yesterday that I saw what I had been looking for on 4th Ave. at Chip’s Hole, (what we used to call the Hedge Row Impoundment).  I going to put my shooter, Ed Beam, at the end of the strip of pines where most of the bears were crossing while I sat in the stand at the bridge at Chip’s Hole glassing the corn field.   A mutual friend, Sam Bennett sat with Ed.  Sam is from Asheville.  He is a pastor, videographer and co-founder of 4Outdoorsmen Ministries.  He and his partner Brent Besosa are in their 3rd year of filming a Christian outreach video on hunting the world’s largest black bears.Yesterday morning before daylight we drove down 4th Ave. from the lodge and stopped a quarter mile short of Chip’s Hole before silently padding down the dirt road to our stands.  As we climbed into our respective stands, it was light enough I could see a sow and 2 cubs in Chip’s Hole.  Sam and Ed went further down to the end of the strip of pines and got in their stand.  I told them if I saw something big I would let them know.
At 6:38 am I saw a lone bear ¾ of a mile away walking toward 4th Ave. on the dike on the east side of Chip’s Hole.  I signaled Sam and Ed to come down and join me.  The closer the bear got the more interesting he looked.  He went from being a possibility, to a sure bet that this was the bear we wanted.   By the time he was within 200 yards I was about ready to come out of my skin this bear was so big!
As long as he stayed on the dike, he was ours.  But if he stepped off into the myrtle bushes on the east side we would lose sight of him until he crossed 4th Ave into the timber.  Fortunately, like huge bears do, he chose the path of least resistance and stayed on the dike and walked right into our lap.  At the shot he turned and bolted off the top of the dike.  But he was done.  One shoulder shot from Ed’s 30.06 and the big bruin never made it any further than the edge of the canal alongside the impoundment.
I was ecstatic!  I hadn’t been as excited since my then 13 yr. old daughter Rebecca shot her big bear last December (see story here).  When Sam played back the video, I was even more exuberant.  He was a huge beautiful bear and to have that memory captured on video is priceless.  The story unfolds in pictures below.

November 26, 2011 Outtakes: Psam 93:4

"The Lord on high is mightier and more glorious than the noise of many waters, yes, than the mighty breakers and waves of the sea."  
Psalm 93:4

Nov 14, 2011

Rusty Asble's Him & His Way

Respect, ethics, example and honesty are words that I have learned and actions that describe many outdoorsmen that I have had the pleasure of meeting, hunting and fishing with over my 44 years of existence.  Many of these men, and women, have taught me a great deal and invested the love and desire to pursue, within the legal limits of the law, many great North American game animals.
Many times however, I come in contact with people that do not share this same viewpoint. One such incident just recently happened on November 2 in
South Carolina.  It was a three-day-rut hunt that I have looked forward to all year. This was personal property that my dad and I have had since 1989.  It is a small piece of approximately 27 acres that has an internal field of 15 acres.
I arrived that afternoon around 2:30pm from Tennessee. I drove through gate and stopped in my normal parking spot.  As I was sitting in my truck I noticed the Gum tree in front of my truck limbed up.  As I walked around the briars there was a climbing stand (#1) at the base of the tree. It is amazing the emotions and feelings that surge through your body when you encounter a wrong like this.  I began to walk this path and found climbing stand #2 60 yards further away.  A little further than that and I found a make shift ground blind with a new camo chair in it. I am now beside myself in disbelief.
Wanting to hunt that evening hunt and watch the place I went to the stand.  It was an unusual evening due to that when the does stepped out, only three, they kept looking weirdly in different directions.  I have never seen this behavior on this property, so I chocked it up to the rut being on.  
The next morning I was back in the stand hunting and watching.  Again, the does came out but were skittish and did the same weird behavior as the night before. About 10:00am I got down and walked that part of the field where they were looking. I could not believe it there they were, climbing stand #3 and further down climbing stand #4 and just about another 100yds climbing stand #5.  All 6 stand locations all within 250 yards of each other. UNBELIEVEABLE!
After coming to my senses, I began trying to formulate a plan of action. I contacted the neighboring landowners to start discussions with them and to inquire who the heads of their leases were. I also made contact with the South Carolina DNR Wildlife Officer just for safekeeping and communication insight.  It was easy to find out who they were due to three of the five stands had names on them.  I won't say much about that.
Over the next 4 hours we had discussions on ethics, legal law enforcement steps and property boundaries. This involved future consequences and contact with the South Carolinas' Operation Game Thief avenues.  I gave all the equipment back as a handshake of respect given - and hope of future respect received.
That evening my brother-in-law and good friend came up from Florida to join me.  Though disappointment set in about not being able to hunt over an unspoiled area, I knew this little area always produced.  Over the next day and a half more does began to be seen.  I freshened up the existing scrapes and began to use some Tinks Scent bombs.  However, still no bucks.
It was Saturday, our last morning to hunt.  I got the guys in the stands an hour and a half before daylight.  The days before the weather had changed from cool and still, to warm, then to rainy, then to very windy and now back to windy and cool.  We were to get down at 9:00am to pack up and head home.I came down from my climbing stand at 8:45am and was back at the truck.  At
8:55am, I heard my brother-in-law shoot.  Within in minute he was trying to contact me by phone.  After 3 failed call attempts, he texted me " Big 8 let's find it".
I drove the truck into the edge of the field and saw he was walking towards me.  He shared that he put his head down to thank Christ for a great hunt, a beautiful morning and just to have the ability to hunt.  When he lifted his head and looked to the left there he stood. A quick shot and it was over.
We drove to the area where the deer was last seen. There was no sign of blood and no hoof prints. They began to search the field and I noticed a lot of pine needles pushed up on the edge of the field.  I walked into the edge of the woods and saw more pine needles pushed up approximately 20 yards further.  Stopping at that area, I knelt down to survey the area, there he was - big, beautiful and massive.  Calling for my brother-in-law and friend they came running.  There lying before us was a 190lb 10 point buck.
Wow! What an emotional experience.  Through all that mess of discussing trespassing, poaching and meetings, and then being given a complete opposite opportunity in success at harvesting the largest buck ever taken from the property. I realized real quickly I had put Christ in a box.  I realized that I was trying to do it in my power and not His. He showed up and brought with Him Mr. Big.  He does things like that every day and in all areas of our life.  We just have to be open to Him and His way...yes, even in and through the great outdoors.