Two Bears, Two Bowman
“I had seen one with a white chest, but I didn’t realize how big he was until I saw him,” McKamy says. “I looked behind me, and I saw this huge bear coming up. He was an absolute monster, just milling around eating the bait. After I took my shot, he ran down into thick briars and tangles, and it took about four hours for Stephen and I to get him out, plus it was raining.”
The pair saw several other bears that afternoon but none to compare with his “monster,” which weighed 415 pounds, measured 7 feet long from nose to tail and making it into the Pope and Young Trophy Book with a skull measurement of 1911/16 inches. To attain a skull measurement, the length and width are added together to the nearest 16th of an inch. It only takes 18 inches to be recorded in the book, and McKamy’s bear exceeded that by almost 2 inches.
Although McKamy does not have any family members who hunt – yet – he says he grew up in the country going hunting with a lot of younger friends. Believe it or not, the first animal McKamy ever took down with a bow was his “monster” of a bear.
“It’s interesting that the first thing I got with a bow was this huge bear,” McKamy says. “The first thing I did was show the video to my 3-year-old, Chloe. She sat in my lap to watch it, and she was so interested that I think she will be a hunter.”
Both McKamy and Richardson say they enjoyed every part of the hunt, including the bear meat.
“To tell you the truth, I was kind of leery about eating a bear at first, but it doesn’t have a gamey taste to it at all,” McKamy says. “To me, it tasted somewhat close to a high-grade beef with a sweet flavor. The meat is very tasty.”
Both Richardson and McKamy had their bears mounted. Hunting bears in Arkansas is not something many are fortunate enough to do. Arkansas is divided into two bear-hunting zones, and only 200 bears per zone (one per person) are allowed to be killed. Although the season runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, bear season is officially over when the zone quota is filled.
Next year, McKamy plans to cut back on the number of bait stations he runs.
“This year I ran all the bait stations, and I put a lot of work and money into it. It was a chore keeping three 55-gallon drums filled with old pastries, dog food, cooking grease and more,” he says. “They would eat those jelly doughnuts up like crazy, and they could eat a 55-gallon drum down completely in two days. I’m going to run only one bait station this year in an effort to keep all the bears going to one location, because I think there are more bears out there than we first thought there were. I captured 12 bears alone on the one camera I set up, so there were obviously a lot.”
After they get a few more bear hunts under their belts, the two men plan to invest in a professional-grade camera, edit the tapes and convert them into a film, and then sell it as an instructional video for those wishing to learn more about bear hunting and bow hunting in general.
The owner of Hurricane Express told the men that if they killed a bear, he would split the cost with them to have it mounted, and they could keep it in the office. It is a full-body mount and stands somewhere between the fax machine and the water cooler.
Off-Duty Destinations: Welcome Home
You see them every day on stamps, bills, coins and television, but do you really know who they are? Our presidents can seem elusive at times, as untouchable figures of the past, but they don’t have to be that way. It has been said that nothing brings people together like spending time in one another’s homes, and although our past presidents can’t visit us, we can still visit the places that shaped our nation’s leaders.
More than 40 presidential homes are scattered throughout the Eastern United States and make for excellent stopovers when you’ve got time to kill. Fewer presidential homes are found in the West, because U.S. civilization had not yet spread that far in the founding days of our nation.
Mount Vernon, the home of our first president, George Washington, is in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., off I-95. Washington himself had a hand in the construction of the house, which was his home both before and after his presidency. Today, Mount Vernon is still a showplace.