Jess's First Bear
By Jessica Libby

My first big game animal was shot on Saturday September 3rd. My husband and I help to run Libby Camps, so it is difficult to get a chance to go hunting. After a few days, I did get my work done early enough to hunt with my 7mm .08. The hunters were all excited for me that I was able to sit on a stand.

The second afternoon a bear came to the bait, knocked the barrel down and ran away. I couldn't get a good shot, but he came back out a few minutes later and started to eat. It was not past legal shooting, but I thought it was too dark to shoot. I just sat there and waited for my husband and guide, Matt Libby Jr., to come get me. When I got back to camp, all the hunters were getting me all pumped up to go out again the next day.

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The next day it rained and the bear didn't come out. On the fourth night, the sitting still and being quiet paid off. Around 7:00 p.m., I started to hear what I thought was a dog barking. I found out later it was a coyote. I was upset, and said, "What is someone doing in the middle of the woods with a yapping dog?" I thought a bear wouldn't come out with all that noise, but about 10 minutes later, a bear came to the bait. I couldn't believe it! I knew it would be dark soon, so it had to be now. Sure enough, the bear turned his head to look back at where the barking was coming from. I pulled up my gun, took the safety off and got ready. The bear turned back and looked at me. I am sure I stopped breathing at that point. He turned broadside, leaned down and I squeezed the trigger. I didn't feel the kick of the gun, nor did I hear the shot. All I saw was the flame coming out of my barrel. The bear made a noise and took off running. I reloaded but by the time I was ready to shoot again he was gone. As soon as he was out of my sight, I heard a crash and a weird moaning sound. Later the guides told me this was the death moan. I couldn't see him, so there was no way I was getting out of my stand.

I shot the bear at 7:15, and legal shooting time was 7:38. I was so excited, but couldn't talk to anyone or move for half an hour. When Matt finally came to get me (which seemed like days) he was listening to the Red Sox on the radio. There was an exciting moment in the game, so he missed my path and had to slam on the brakes. I thought he was driving by me to go get another hunter. He came back and I started screaming that I got a bear. He said "WHAT you shot one?" I said "yes, but I can't see it." He started to laugh and walked to my stand. He told me to tell him where the bear went after I shot him. I pointed to the direction and said I'll show you if you get me out of this stand. He had found blood on the ground, so he helped me down and we went to where I had last seen the bear. We went about 25 yards and there he was, lying on the ground dead. Matt and I started whooping and hollering and high fiving. I couldn't believe I had shot something so big.

We drove back to camp and I ran into the kitchen screaming that I got a bear and the whole place lit up with excitement. They laughed at me because my legs and body were still shaking. Eight people came out to help, and they all said, "now that's a bear". I think the hunters in the dinning room were just as excited as I was. We brought the bear back to camp and put it on the scales and he weighed 330 lbs and was 5 feet 3 inches tall. He weighed almost three times as much as I do, but was only 3 inches taller. No one could believe that "little Jess could shoot such a big bear".

The best part is that I get to share my excitement with all the sports that come to camp. I'm really glad that the bear referendum that we fought last year did not pass, because I would not have had a chance at this kind of bear hunt. Now I'm gearing up for October 10th when I start my moose hunt.

Jessica Libby helps run Libby Camps in T8R9.

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