Video: Epic Saskatchewan Bowhunt for a Huge Black Bear

Tom Nelson punches his 50th black bear tag — and it’s a bruiser!

Video: Epic Saskatchewan Bowhunt for a Huge Black Bear

Veteran bowhunter Tom Nelson is the host of “The American Archer” TV show, and he recently joined the crew of The Way It Was (YouTube channel) for an epic black bear bowhunt in Saskatchewan.

As you’ll see in the 11.5-minute video below, Nelson is covered up in bears on the second evening of his spring hunt. For the bears in this area, breeding season is late May and early June, so boars are searching for a sow in heat, and a bait site is an ideal location for this interaction. In addition to seeing a medium-size boar chasing a sow, Nelson also has a front row seat to two other boars making various vocalizations and posturing for dominance.

One of the best ways to field judge a black bear is by using a bait barrel for size reference; when a 55-gallon drum is tipped over, the back of a 200- to 250-pound bear will be about 12 inches over the barrel. Of course, if a bear doesn’t walk near a fallen barrel, or if a barrel isn't being used, as is the case in this hunt, then a hunter must judge a bear in other ways.

Fast-forward to the 5:30 mark if you want to get right to the bear that causes Nelson to whisper to his cameraman, “That’s a jumbo!” The big boar strolls into the area like he owns the place, and all of the other bears scatter — that’s one of the telltales of a big bear. This boar has huge shoulders, a thick neck, short legs, and tiny ears in relation to his massive head. The stud also goes out of his way to stomp small trees, another move to drive away lesser bears.

Even though it’s only day No. 2 of a week-long adventure, Nelson realizes he simply can’t pass up a boar of this magnitude. As Nelson waits for a perfect shooting opportunity, the boar is aggressively vocalizing and pushing away smaller boars. And at one point, the boar stands on his hind legs to scratch his back on Nelson’s ladder stand — now that’s close!

Finally, the big boar stops running off other bears and slowly steps into the clear, giving Nelson an ideal close-range broadside shot. Nelson waits for the boar to look away so it doesn’t see him draw his bow, and a second or two later a Grim Reaper mechanical broadhead zips through the bear’s lungs.

After the shot, when the boar sprints to the edge of the clearing and then stops, I thought he would tip over. I’m often shocked at how quickly a black bear will expire when hit through both lungs with a razor-sharp broadhead. But as Nelson reaches for an insurance arrow, the boar runs away.

The death moan doesn't sound like others I’ve heard on bear hunts, but it’s clear the boar didn’t go far. And that’s when the excitement of the hunt hits Nelson hard. He’s visibly shaking after the shot, which is awesome. You see, this was Nelson’s 50th — that’s right, 50th — bear tag he’s filled during his long and successful bowhunting career!

P.S. Two comments about this hunt: Nelson and his cameraman must have been running at least one ThermaCELL because it’s clear that mosquitoes were bothering the bears, but not the hunters. I’ve relied on a ThermaCELL to keep bugs and bay on previous bear hunts, including one during early June 2024, and they work like magic. Finally, Nelson credits his ability to get within range of this massive boar to his good friend and Saskatchewan bear guide Rob Nye (


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