Triumph At Bear Mountain Lodge
As the large, shaggy silhouettes of the Russian Boars wove in and out of the thick timber, the hunter’s heart beat louder and faster. Long, black snouts worked the air currents in search of human scent, but all that was detected was the sweet odor of the waiting corn. Dozens of black, beady eyes examined the surroundings for hints of danger, but keen senses were clouded by a cold-induced hunger, which would not be denied.
As the hunter’s blood beat a deafening cadence as it rushed through his ear drums, the moment of truth was upon him. His fantasy to best the beast called "Russian Boar" had come down to its final moment. As the fearsome animals worked their way towards the corn-covered kill zone, the hunter struggled to lift his crossbow to his shoulder. As he gazed through the scope at the animals emerging from the timber, he labored to steady the crosshairs as they did the "adrenaline boogie" on the shoulder of a big boar.
The hunter was James Moore, a Minnesota resident that had been envisioning this moment for several years. At Bear Mountain Lodge in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, hog hunters are a dime a dozen, but James Moore was a different kind of hunter. The fact that he is in his sixty-sixth year, makes him a senior citizen. The fact that he is in his fifty-first year of being confined to a wheelchair and is still alive, makes him an iron man. Most who spend that many years confined to a chair, seldom see their sixty-fifth birthday, let alone venture into the remote wilderness to hunt Russian Boars with a crossbow. Yes, James Moore is an exceptional hunter.
At age fourteen, he stopped a wayward football kicked by an acquaintance with the back of his head. He rose, after being knocked to the ground, and walked home. In a few days, his feet began to go numb. The numbness quickly crept up his legs and into his lower body, sentencing him to life in a wheelchair.
Like so many other people with disabilities, James Moore loves every aspect of the outdoors and especially the thrill of the hunt. His appreciation for all things wild runs deep and his reverence for the wild game that enriches his menu is even a greater joy and source of pride in his life. Given his physical limitations and half a century in a wheelchair, realizing his goal to take a Russian Boar with his crossbow was a major challenge.
The exceptional service, enthusiastic cooperation and accessible accommodations at Bear Mountain Lodge played a major role in allowing Jim to fulfill his quest. That, however, is what anyone can expect when they choose to do battle with the raging beasts in the "playground" of Bear Mountain Lodge. Proprietor, Greg Johnson and his skilled staff have worked long and hard to provide their clients with a royal environment, while simultaneously providing them with extraordinarily exciting adventures. Jim was greeted by Greg and guide, Matt Singer upon his arrival. He was shown to his quarters and given the grand tour of the facilities. His crossbow was checked to insure that it was "dead-on" and then he was bundled up and rolled out to his blind for the evening hunt, under the conscientious care of Matt Singer.
The shooting Chalet was well equipped to provide Jim with the protection and comfort needed to sit out the frigid conditions of the long, February afternoon. A gas heater was even provided to insure that his feet would not freeze during the time he spent in the cold. Matt, who is a college student that guides weekends at Bear Mountain Lodge, provided Jim with all the muscle needed to navigate the wintry path, while catering to his every need. Matt was also a knowledgeable source of information about the boars and their behavior, providing the answers to the countless questions that flowed from the newbie boar hunter.
As the afternoon passed, the men watched the wild things that visited the golden grain that had been scattered to draw in the boars. Squirrels, both red and gray, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays and mourning doves stopped by to socialize and share a bit of repast. A whitetail button buck moseyed in and filled its belly with the high-energy grain, while entertaining the hidden hunters by hassling one of the local gray squirrels that was also attempting to fill`er up.
As the last hour of daylight approached, the black forms of boars crossed an open trail a hundred yards south of the little Chalet. Watching them disappear into the heavy timber, Matt told Jim to get ready. He further advised that the hogs would probably approach the clearing from the ten o’clock position. Shadows eventually began to appear between the dense tree trunks as the stealthy hogs skulked through the cover, inching their way closer to their objective.
Ever cautious, the herd stopped fifty yards from the small clearing working the air currents with their keen sense of smell and studying the chalet with their inferior eyesight. At last, unable to resist the hunger that gnawed at their insides, the first animals began to venture into the ambush.
The smaller critters came first, followed by the "bad boys". As the herd boars stepped into the arena, Jim slowly brought his crossbow to his shoulder. He strained to steady the heavy bow as Matt whispered words of encouragement and offered advice. Jim mentally chose a boar with a gray face and shoulders. However, as the weight of the crossbow became heavier and more difficult to hold steady, a massive black boar that was standing perfectly broadside at thirty yards became the new target.
As the crosshairs danced onto the shoulder of the hapless hog, Jim’s finger tightened around the trigger and he slowly squeezed. The crack of the crossbow shattering the stillness of the playground, the thump of the arrow plunging into pork and the piercing squeal of the punctured pig created a stampede. Hogs exploded into huge black shards of shrapnel as they scattered to the four winds at unbelievable speeds.
The mortally stricken boar, began its final flight. As it ran, it crashed into trees and began to stagger, unable to escape its plunge into the final void that awaits all living things. As suddenly as it has started, it was done. The quiet that hung over the Chalet and the thick cover of the Bear Mountain Lodge playground was deafening. Then began the excited chatter and the jubilant laughter.