Even for skilled hunters utilizing probably the most superior trendy rifles or compound bows, harvesting a big black bear is difficult. It includes hours if not days of persistence, persistence, and immersion into the lives and habits of one of many continent’s largest land predators.
However to do it with a selfmade bow–the place every little thing from the bowstring to the broadhead is constructed from scratch–represents one other degree of dedication. However that is precisely what 26-year-old Caleb Flies did this 12 months in Oklahoma, and he could possibly be one of many first in latest reminiscence to do it within the Sooner State.
Behind the Bowhunter
Oklahoma-born and raised, Flies discovered his love for the outside alongside his grandpa, discovering achievement by way of immersion within the pure world.
“Conventional bows have all the time been interesting to me, and I’ve shot one my complete life,” he instructed MeatEater. “Fictional characters like Robinhood or Legolas have been the best of heroes to me, and as a child I’d usually make crude bows out of saplings, pretending to be these heroes.”
As he bought older, Flies shot recurve bows or longbows created from laminated wooden or fiberglass, however 5 years in the past he attended a bow-building competition in northern Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Self-Bow Jamboree is placed on by the Oklahoma Selfbow Society, and every year instructors lend their experience to reveal the best way to construct a bow.
“After constructing my very own bow, I used to be hooked,” Flies mentioned. “I nonetheless hunt with a recurve and longbow generally, however the self-bow has an ever-growing want to be the bow that goes on adventures with me. And now that zeal has culminated in my very own archery firm, Ravenclaw Archery, to make my ardour my career as nicely.”
The bow for this hunt was remarkably easy, particularly in comparison with the superior compound bows of right now. Flies crafted the bow out of an Osage Orange tree, and the ultimate product was round 55 kilos in draw weight.
He strung it with a flax fiber linen bowstring, backed it with copperhead skins, and wrapped the deal with with beaver tail leather-based. For the finger tab, he used his personal Ravenclaw Archery wooden tab created from Osage wooden, cordovan leather-based, beaver tail, and copperhead pores and skin. The arrows consisted of Douglas fir shafts from Surewood Shafts fletched with wild turkey feathers.
The broadheads have been flint knapped out of obsidian, weighing between 62 and 68 grains every and measuring between ⅞- and 1-inch large. Flies used disguise glue and deer backstrap sinew to connect the stone factors to the wooden shafts, spinning them to ensure they have been mounted straight.
“I selected this setup for 2 causes. Firstly, I benefit from the problem of crafting such primitive weapons, as I consider it provides extra which means to the hunt, to honor the lifetime of the animal,” Flies mentioned. “Having to be so near the animal earlier than taking pictures emphasizes the honest chase ingredient of the hunt and makes the interplay extra private and significant to me.”
Oklahoma isn’t referred to as a black bear haven. There have been solely about 1,300 black bears within the state as of 2020, although that quantity has probably grown in subsequent years. Discovering a bear is difficult, and although a 55-pound bow has sufficient energy to kill a bear, their eager senses make getting inside taking pictures vary a tough prospect.
To make the duty potential, Caleb hid in a excessive tree stand, ready over bait for a large, authorized bear to current itself. With a stroke of luck, on opening day, he bought a shot on an outdated barren sow.
“The shot was completely positioned, proper behind the shoulder. The arrow penetrated by way of the entrance ribs, by way of each lungs and into the far facet ribs of this massive bear,” Flies mentioned. “The animal didn’t run 20 yards earlier than falling over and expired inside a minute of the shot. I used to be capable of retrieve the obsidian head and it was in nice situation aside from the nook notches breaking off.”
And this was no small bear, weighing round 300 kilos dwell weight, and remarkably wholesome. All of the meat was harvested (as legally required), and the disguise and cranium have been despatched to the taxidermist.
“For me it was an unbelievable achievement, one I had labored on for years,” Flies mentioned.
The Oklahoma Division of Conservation doesn’t break down archery kills into kind of bow used, however a spokesperson instructed MeatEater that Flies stands out as the first hunter to take a black bear with a stone level for the reason that reintroduction of black bears within the 1960’s. Different Oklahoma hunters have used self-made bows to take black bears, however these hunters used trendy metal broadheads.
Regardless, kudos to Caleb for the distinctive craftsmanship, and congratulations on the memorable harvest. Should you’d like to look at somebody take a bear with a stone level, take a look at Clay Newcomb’s bear hunt on this episode of the Bear Grease Roadshow.