Marine Corps veteran Eric has served four tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. After a hidden IED went off, severely limiting his mobility, Eric rejoined civilian life and is working on his mechanical engineering degree. “When I heard about my bear hunt, I was excited to have the opportunity of a once-in-a-lifetime hunt.”
In the days before his hunt, Tom Hurias and Tim Schmitz, members of the bear group, helped Eric arrange transportation and answered all his questions regarding his upcoming hunt. As the date drew near, the excitement mounted with every new trail camera picture update he received.
Tim picked up Eric from the airport, and together, they drove to their bear camp, where they met Tom, Travis, and Rich. After introducing themselves, they discussed their plan for the following day. The next morning, they headed to the range, where Eric tried out different rifles until he found the most comfortable one to shoot.
Eric added, “While on our way to the range, we got bear activity on one of the trail cameras, so we decided to go to that location and sit in the blind for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, we had no luck that morning and returned to the campground to regroup before heading to the blind as originally planned in the early afternoon.”
Eric and his guide, Tom, settled into the camouflaged blind in a wooded area. The blind blended perfectly with the natural surroundings and provided a clear view of the flat path leading to the bear bait, which was 50 yards away.
In the late afternoon, a bear approached the wood line of the trail and slowly walked towards the left side of the bait. Eric felt excited and waited patiently for the bear to stay still. Eventually, the bear turned sideways, which gave Eric a good shot opportunity. He carefully rested his 7mm bolt action rifle on the arm of a rifle cradle, aimed through the scope, got it in the crosshairs, and squeezed the trigger. The shot was perfect, and the bear stumbled off into the brush.
Tom said, “We waited about 10 minutes high-fiving and talking about it because I heard the thrashing inside the blind. I called the group, and once they arrived, we got out of the blind and checked for a blood trail, and they helped track down the bear.”
Eric said, “The best part of the hunt was shooting my first bear, but what made the experience truly special was the opportunity to meet the Random Lake Rod and Gun Club folks. I was moved by how everyone cheered and supported each other’s successful hunts. The good vibes from all the club members were genuine and out of the kindness of their hearts. No matter who needed help, everyone was always happy to lend a hand.”
Thanks to Scott Kraus for donating his bear license and to Tom, Tim, and their bear group for providing a fantastic hunting experience. Congratulations to Eric for his trophy bear, and thank you for your service in defending our nation’s freedom! God bless!
If you are interested in getting involved, want to donate your 2024 bear license, or know of a deserving youth or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact United Special Sportsman Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 518-8019.