Dare the Bear
“I waited fully drawn again for 10 minutes. It seemed like hours. Then he moved, and it was like slow motion. As he moved his front leg forward, there was the shot and I took it. The bear just bolted. I was sure I’d make a clean shot, but after 10 minutes waiting I’d heard nothing. I was worried that maybe I’d just wounded him so I decided I had to go look for him.”
Piktel found his arrow. Only three inches of it was sticking out of the ground, and it was covered in blood. Cautiously he went after the bear. “I really didn’t know what would happen; maybe he was waiting for me. There was some tension there. But I only went into the brush about 30 yards and there he was laid out. He’d dropped in mid stride. The arrow had gone through his heart. When he bolted, he was running dead.”
Piktel had successfully hunted bear before in Maine. In fact, hunting has been a consuming passion all of Piktel’s life. But it was a passion that almost overwhelmed him.
Back home in Daisytown, Pa., Bill Piktel with (l-r) sons Willie, 22, Brian, 14, Robert, 6, and wife Becky.
He came to truck driving eight years ago after working for a tree trimming company. “I was going from paycheck to paycheck before, but driving gave me a better standard of living; in fact, it changed my life,” Piktel says. “I was over-the-road for the first five years, and when I got time at home I found I really valued my family and I wanted to be with them more. Before I started truck driving I’d go off hunting every chance I got, and I’d leave them behind and kind of not make them a big enough part of my life. I changed and put my family first. Now I’ve got a dedicated route and I’m home at times during the week and usually home weekends.
“The Transport America people were pretty good to me. When I asked them, they worked out a way for me to be home more. They’re like a second family to me, and Marge, the terminal manager, she’s like a second mother.”
Piktel lives in Daisytown, Pa., and his home terminal is in North Jackson, Ohio. He delivers to Dick’s Sporting Goods stores and his longest run is up to Green Bay, Wisc., an overnight haul. He also trains drivers for Transport America.
Piktel says the best lesson he learned about hunting and, “maybe about life,” came from an old man he was hunting with. “He told me he couldn’t enjoying his hunting as much as he did when he was younger and in better health. He said ‘I’ll tell you a secret. If you start saying “I should have,” it’s too late. You should have.’ I’ve taken that to heart.”
To bag a bighorn sheep, something he calls “one of Mother Nature’s grandest creatures,” George Drake needed two things: a permit and an understanding wife.
The permits are like gold in the Rocky Mountains, and frustrated big game hunters can try for years and never get one. But Drake, a 10-year veteran with Davis Transport of Missoula, Mont., and the company’s 2002 company driver of the year, got one the first time he applied in Wyoming.
“After a very serious conversation with my very understanding wife as to why I needed to raid our savings account, I booked the hunt,” Drake says.
He would hunt in Whisky Mountain country near Dubois, Wyo.
“I met the outfitter at the trail head and we went on horseback a couple of hours to the camp. Whisky Mountain is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. In our industry we get to see some beautiful country from the cab of a truck, but the horse allowed me to see places I’d only dreamed about.”
Drake’s base camp was in a high meadow with a high mountain stream and great camp food.
“We hunted for three days and saw a total of 21 legal rams. The outfitter kept telling me we could find a better one. On the fourth day the sheep gods smiled on us and we found the ram we wanted.”
Drake’s trophy was an 81/2-year old ram with 15-inch bases on his horns. One horn was 34 inches long and the other was 32 inches.
“This was the hunt of a lifetime.”
Deschutes River State Recreation Area
In northern Oregon just off I-84 there’s a place where drivers can stop off and hunt birds or fish for a special trophy. Here is a park where ranger Jim Anderson says truckers often stop off with a trailer still hooked up, fish for an hour or two, and then drive on.
If you decide to stop awhile, this state park has a lot to offer. It’s a sheltered place where both spring and summer come early, giving you relief from the cold weather.