The low humidity of the northern spring stood in stark contrast to the thick air back home in Arkansas. I love leaving the heat and getting far enough north to still feel the chill of spring. It was the last week of June, and like a duck flying north in the spring, I was making my annual migration to Saskatchewan in search of wilderness bears. If you’ve never done it you wouldn’t understand, but hunting big game in June is something special. However, I had no idea what adventure and, without sugar coating it, pure thrill lay ahead. Every mile north brought me closer to what would be the closest bear encounter of my life. In retrospect it was too close.
We chose to drive from Arkansas on our 30-hour pilgrimage to the boreal forest. Leaving the Eastern Deciduous timber in the rearview mirror, my traveling partner Brent Reaves and I gained a unique perspective. “Brent,” I said, “driving 30 hours in an air-conditioned vehicle to make it halfway across the continent is something new. In every previous century since humans have wandered the earth a sojourn that far would have taken months or even years.” Brent agreed with nod and never complained about the distance. The fresh perspective helped make the long trip bearable. “Brent, you’re pretty good traveling company,” I said.