West Hanover Twp. – Joanne Chianos
had been hunting bears for four days last month in a northwest Maine
forest when she heard a distinctive crack.
The West Hanover Twp. archer looked
down from her tree stand and saw "a huge bear on all fours, looking
straight up at me."
She froze in position "with my heart beating so loud I thought he
could hear it." They stared at each other as she waited for the bear
to get in position for the perfect shot.
Seconds later, she drew her bow. Her
arrow found its mark, landing a 425-pound black bear that might make
the record books for its size.
"That was a thrill of a lifetime,"
said Chianos, a retired Harrisburg School District physical
education teacher who taught at Hamilton Elementary and in the
district middle school. "I've loved archery since I was a child in
Chianos went to Maine last month with
her "best friend and hunting partner," Dan Kruger of West Hanover
Twp., also a retired Harrisburg School District physical education
teacher, who taught in the same schools.
She said Kruger, a longtime hunter,
talked her into buying a bow, practicing and trying archery hunting.
"I had never hunted until 1977," she
said. "But the first time I hunted with an old-fashioned basic bow,
I got a beautiful eight-point buck. I was hooked."
Since then, Chianos has had
successful hunts, shooting three deer and three bears with her rifle
and six deer with her bow. She also has shot turkeys. But the trip
to Maine was her first time bow hunting for bears.
"I've always been mesmerized by
bears," she said. "I'm not afraid of them, but I respect them.
They've come within 10 yards of me. On the first day of
Pennsylvania's deer season this year, I saw a beautiful black mother
bear and four cubs."
She giggled while recalling the time
she and another woman teamed up to wrestle Caesar, a 1,000-pound
black bear at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in the Farm Show
"The goal was to put the bear on his
back," Chianos said. "But when we went into the arena, Caesar swiped
my legs out from under me. I was on my stomach, and he had his front
paw on my back. I thought he was standing on me. I couldn't move and
couldn't breathe. I thought 'maybe this wasn't a good idea.' My
friend tried to distract him. We were done."
Chianos said that during the recent
five-day hunt led by Foggy Mountain Guide Service of Sebec, Maine,
she and Kruger hunted from their tree stands from 2 p.m. to sundown.
They didn't see any bears for the first
four rainy days.
"I got my bear at 7:15 p.m. on the
last day of our hunt," she said. "I heard his moan and knew I got
him. He went away, leaving a blood trail. I was shaking as I lowered
the bow and came out of the stand. He was lying 25 yards away,
looking like a big black refrigerator."
Chianos tagged the bear, then put her
jacket over him to keep coyotes away. She returned the next day with
a canvas stretcher and two people to help lift him.
She saved the animal's hind quarters
and tenderloins, which she said "tastes like sweet beef," then
donated the rest of the meat to a program for the hungry.
"We eat everything we shoot," she
said. "I'm having a full mount done, with the bear standing with his
paw on a rock. It won't be done until February. I'll put it in my
Kruger, who over the years has shot
six bears with a bow, said Chianos "shoots like a champ and knows
how to sit quietly more than most men I've hunted with."
Kruger's own skill with bears might
have saved his life twice. He recalled being in a tree stand when a
150-pound bear "climbed up toward me. I poked him in the face with
my bow, and he went down."
Another time, while bow-hunting in
Maine, a 50-pound bear cub climbed up his back and began sniffing at
"It was very scary," he recalled. "I
said, 'Please go away.' After a few minutes, he did. But five
minutes later, he returned with a second cub and their 300-pound
mother. One cub crawled on my back. The other crawled under my arm.
The mother bear growled, snarled and clicked her teeth at me five
Kruger said he petted the cub on his
lap, calming it down. "Finally, the cubs left, the mother growled
again, and they all left. It was the most frightening experience of
Kruger said that because of its size,
Chianos' bear "stands a good chance of making a record with Pope and
Young," one of North America's leading bow-hunting and conservation
Teacher’s Black Bear has Chance to Make Record Book can be read in
the October 10, 2005 publication of The Patriot News, Harrisburg, PA.
Read more about
Bear Hunting with Foggy
Mountain Guide Service.