They have been hunting together about 20 years. Mike Becker introduced Nora to the sport after they were married. “This way we can spend more time together,” he said.
Today, Mike and Nora Becker, Eden Valley, and their son, Nathan, enjoy hunting together. Thus far this month, Mike and Nathan have each shot their deer and Nora, a bear.
Nora, an employee at Hill Top Restaurant, said Mike taught her everything she knows. He is a certified archery instructor.
“I had to learn how to pull back on the bow string, how to use the sites and to judge the distance from my stand to the target,” Nora said. She explained the ideal distance is about 20 yards. “I have never gotten a closer distance yet but have come close a few times.”
She uses a 50-pound bow when hunting locally. But when it came to bear hunting, she switched to her rifle, a 270. Mike and Nora went up to Crosby/Ironton, where they have relatives, to hunt bear on opening day, Sept. 1.
“The bear came from behind me. I heard a crackle and sneaked a peak behind the tree from my stand. I spotted the bear through the brush coming toward me instead of the bait,” Nora said.
“I slowly took off my head net (mosquito protection) and watched the bear. The bear was 12 feet below my tree stand. It looked and sniffed at the bait, sat down, then looked at me. When he looked the other way, I shot him in the lungs. The bear fell about 10 feet from the bait,” she said. “My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would pop out of my chest,” Nora added.
They stopped at a weigh station in Brainerd on their way home and found the bear weighed 235 pounds dressed. They are required to send in two teeth and a portion of the rib to the state, to determine the age of the bear.
This was only the fourth time Nora has been bear hunting, and her second successful hunt. Her last bear was shot eight years ago. The Beckers believe in researching what they hunt. “We try to learn as much as we can about the animals. Bears are fascinating to read about,” Mike added.
A person needs to participate in a drawing for bear licenses within a bear permit area. “Sometimes it takes three years to get a license,” she said.
The family starts practicing their archery two months before the season starts. “A person can’t just pick up a bow and arrow and go hunting,” she stressed. They practice everyday, shooting a series of arrows, 15 to 25, at targets on their lawn.
“Everything takes teamwork,” she said. “Mike does the hard work. He scouts the area and sets out bait. The bait can be anything from sweet rolls, popcorn or a 350-pound block of salted nut rolls.”
When hunting, Nora explained, you need to be as quiet as possible. “You can hardly move. If you make a quick movement, your game is gone,” she added. “You need to take off your gun safety slowly. The bears don’t have the best eyesight but their hearing is very sharp. It is amazing how quiet they can move. You need to be very cautious when hunting game, big or small.”
The Beckers usually go out at 5 p.m. or early morning at 6 a.m. “We stay until we’re tired. If we don’t see anything, we leave. Some hunters sit all day.
Nora said she finds hunting peaceful. “It is the only time I get to rest. I enjoy listening to the birds, watching the squirrels and raccoons play in the woods. Once, a bird even landed on my arrow,” she said.
Mike enjoys the solitude of hunting, especially bow hunting. “It gives you a lot of time to think. Nathan and I get to spend quality time together as well,” he added.
After each hunt, the Beckers clean up the area where they had been hunting. “I don’t like to leave anything behind, especially the arrows. It is a good way to ruin good relations with the land owners.”
Beckers use portable deer stands when they hunt, thus they remove everything when they leave. “You don’t even know we’ve been in the area,” Mike said.
When one season is over, Mike switches to another...be it pheasant, ducks, turkey, deer, bear, caribou, elk, or moose. “The wild turkey harvest is growing more and more popular among hunters,” he added.
“Every hunter has a good year and a bad. Deer move and the areas change. A hunter needs to take things in stride,” Mike said.
Nathan enjoys hunting for the peace and quiet, in addition to giving him an opportunity to be by himself.
“This year I’ve had a problem with the mosquitoes,” Mike said. “I’m enjoying the cooler temperatures as the mosquitoes aren’t as active. A hunter can’t wear repellent as the scent will give their presence away to their game.”
Becker, a self-employed ceramic tile setter, stresses safety to his entire family. When they hunt, they always leave a note as to where they will be and which direction the wind is, so if someone wants to join the hunting party, they approach from the right direction.
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