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Hunting vet bags first bear

NATCHEZ — Rex Holmes Jr. picked up his first hunting bow in 1969 and for years he spent almost every day in the woods hunting deer.

But at 56 years old, Holmes finally got the opportunity to experience a bear hunt last month.

Holmes made his way to Boisetown, New Brunswick, Canada, with a couple of camera crews to film a five-day bear hunt.

But Holmes only needed 2.5 hours of the five-day hunt to bag his first bear.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I guess I’ve been hunting so long that I’m used to it, but I was excited. I was kind of speechless. I was looking at the camera with a funny expression on my face. I didn’t know what to say.”

Holmes said bear hunting was a special feeling, especially compared to deer hunting, which has become second nature to him.

“It is the most exciting, relaxing and fun hunting trip I have ever been on,” he said.

Holmes said years of hunting have turned him into a more patient, less bloodthirsty hunter.

“I’m not a killer anymore,” he said. “When I was younger, I was a killer. I just like to sit back and watch the animals move before I make the shot. If they run off, so be it.”

Holmes said he spent more than 30 minutes watching the 190-pound female bear eat the cookies and donuts the hunters laid out for her as bait.

“It was beautiful,” he said. “The bear was right under me no more than 10 yards away lying on the ground reaching out with her mouth picking the cookies up. She would scoot on the ground to get them. She was too lazy to even stand up to eat the cookies.

It was just like watching somebody. She was so agile. It is comical to watch them. Bears will climb trees and their strength and agility is so impressive.”

Holmes is CEO of Vapor Trail Scents in Natchez, which makes products that disguise the scent of humans from animals, and he said a key to bear hunting is making sure the hunter is hidden from the bear’s keen sense of smell.

“A bear has a really sensitive nose,” he said. “Deer can smell 1,000 times better than you and I, and a dog or a bear can smell 1,500 times better.”

Holmes said the arrow that he shot the bear with went all the way through the animal and stuck six inches into the dirt eventually striking a tree root.

“I could not pull the broadhead out of that root,” he said.

Holmes said he looks forward to getting his trophy home.

“The bear had the most beautiful black coat with two white spots on her chest,” he said. “Only a few black bears display lighter color marks on their chests or stomachs. I knew she would make a beautiful mount.”

Holmes said he takes great pride in being a bowhunter, and he would have turned the offer down if they were hunting bear with guns.

Holmes said his first bear hunt was a great experience, and he hopes to go again soon.

“I can’t wait to do this again,” he said.