Bloody Caesars and a Black Bear

By Ryan Wilby 

My buddy, Jason, let out an involuntary “Whoa,” then continued, “that’s a big boy.” 

We slipped a couple of beers into koozies and continued to hunch over the laptop.

“He’s gotta be four or five hundred pounds,” I added.

We flipped through the pictures in sequence as this massive black bear spent the better part of two hours at our whitetail bait pile. 

“We should hunt him,” I continued.

“I just want the hide. I’m not sure about draggin’ his ass out of that hole if we shoot him,” my hunting partner replied.

“Fuck that, man. If we shoot him, we drag his ass out, skin him and butcher him properly,” I told him.

Now, I’m not one to make use of every asshole and elbow from the game I pursue, but I do believe that if you’re going to pull the trigger, someone ought to put the majority of that meat to good use.

“Fine. Let’s do it,” Jason agreed.

Jason is the ultimate no-frills hunter. He rolls with an overstuffed duffel bag, his favorite rifle—an old beater chambered in .308—and an icy cooler’s worth of field refreshments. 

He needed a tag, so the local bait shop was a necessary stop. Walking through the door, a peculiar looking blind caught Jason’s eye.  Despite having a perfectly good treestand, he was enthralled with the idea of being on the ground.

One of those big, corny star-shaped sales stickers was affixed to the floor model – as if Jason needed any more convincing about the deal he was about to get. The blind was a shitty lawn chair with a pull-over camo cover that offered the user very little elbow room. 

He leaned the box against the counter and headed for the walk-in fridge. He came back clutching a box of red libations.

“Just in case,” he said with a grin.

Jason’s celebratory drink of choice is a Bloody Caesar, which is essentially a Bloody Mary. But, instead of tomato juice, Canadians use Clamato, a reconstituted tomato juice mixer flavored with spices and dried clam broth.

You can buy them pre-mixed and Jason always tries to have one or six ready in case the occasion presents itself.

He paid the man and we were on our way.

It was 7:10 am the next morning when I heard Jason’s shot. 

I gave him 15 minutes to get his shit together and then went out to the trail to meet him.

He was heading my way, looking a little rattled. I asked him what happened.

“That big bastard came the wrong way.” 

It was at this moment I was reminded of his newly acquired blind. He set it up on the ground about 40 yards from the bait pile. He was in tight. 

It wasn’t long before he heard rustling up on a ridge to his right. He looked through the camo screen and saw our intended target but, due to the confines of the blind, Jason was unable to maneuver his rifle to get a shot. The bear was working a scent pretty good and lumbering directly towards the blind. 

“I thought for sure I was busted,” Jason recounted. He watched in claustrophobic horror as the bear stood up on his hind legs and pulled some more air into his insatiable nostrils. And then, a miracle: “He dropped down, changed directions, and ran straight to the bait and I took the shot.”

We walked up the hill and into the woods to see what we could find. Sure enough, about 10 yards from the bait pile, there he was. Time for Bloody Caesars.

We spent the better part of three hours hauling him out and cleaning him up. He was every bit of the final field dressed weight of 435 lbs—a monster for a couple of first-timers. 

The temperature was climbing and we needed ice and coolers before we skinned and quartered him. We made the call to put down the Caesars and head into town.

Town consisted of about 200 residents, a pizza joint, a liquor store and the local gas station-grocery store combination. We pulled up to the pumps and headed inside to grab a bunch of ice and as many styrofoam coolers as we could carry.

Outside, we were met by a couple of women standing at the pump behind my truck, looking displaced, clearly just stopping for gas on their way through the area. Reading their faces, the pair were noticeably disturbed by something. 

Unbeknownst to me, blood was leaking down from the bottom of my truck’s tailgate and pooling on the concrete below.

“That’s not blood is it?” one of the women inquired.

“No, I  just spilled my Caesar,” Jason quipped, pointing to an empty he tossed in the trash can between the pumps. 

We offered them a wink and wished them well as we hopped in the truck. We had work to do back at camp and every intention of spilling a few more in the process.