My 2017 Spring Bear Hunt

By | Aaron Van Woerkom

I was sitting in economics class in March of 2017 trying not fall asleep when I got a text from my brother telling me that Spring Bear results were out in Idaho. I remember him saying something to the effect of, “Don’t get too excited, remember that as out-of-staters we have less than a 2% chance to draw”. I hopped right on to the Idaho Fish & Game website during class, but their website was down – I figured everyone that put in for that tag was on their website at once and it probably crashed. I walked out of class and called the Fish & Game’s number and a really nice lady answered and said, “are you calling to find out your bear results too?” I laughed and told her yes, I would like to know if I was successful even though I knew that there was a one-in-a-million chance I would draw. She laughed and proceeded to ask me a few questions so she could look my results up. The next words out of her mouth were something like, “it’s your lucky day Mr. Van Woerkom, you drew!” I asked her multiple times if she was kidding, but she continued to tell me she was dead serious. I couldn’t believe it!

The next few hours and days were spent on the phone with my brother Erik, and our friends from Idaho that couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to draw. My friend Tyler Okamura of Idaho said that he knew of Idaho residents that have put in for their whole lives for this tag but had never drawn it. Multiple other friends told me that there were big bears everywhere if you are willing to get off of the roads and put some miles on the boots. I immediately started to prepare – setting dates, making plans, e-scouting, hiking, running and making sure my gun was spot on.

Bear hunter looking through binoculars in wilderness with mountains in background

This hunt ended up being one of the most fun and most memorable experiences that I have ever had. We documented the whole hunt and have now come out with a two-part series that you can watch on our YouTube channel. From missing a GIANT bear, to passing a big bear so that I could try and relocate the giant bear, to finally harvesting a really big, old bear – this was a really fun hunt.

Lastly, we named this film “Validation” because this hunt meant a lot to me as far as confidence in my “hunting abilities” go. I’m the youngest on Team Muley Freak with the least amount of experience. So the fact that I went into the Idaho backcountry, solo, and harvested a big bear, was huge for me!