Dave Erdkamp shows the gap in the bear skull where they pulled the teeth to send into the State of Minnesota.
Dave Erdkamp stands next to the bear he shot in Minnesota last September. The bear rug recently arrived in Exeter after almost a year at the taxidermist.
Dave and Pat Erdkamp had to clear some wall space in their home recently for a new addition. The delivery they had been anticipating for over a year arrived recently, Dave’s bear trophy.
In August of 2012, Dave and Pat headed to Minnesota where Dave had contacted a guide to make his dream of hunting a bear a reality. They drove to the town of Grand Marais and Dave finally got to do something “I have wanted to do since the 1970’s It was on my bucket list and I just started at the top and worked my way down.”
“We had been to Canada before twice for other trips but this time we were about 6 miles south of the border. We applied as a group but a friend couldn’t get the vacation time off of work so I figured, why not take the wife along?”
Bear season opened on September first and Dave headed out with the guide. “There was a lot the guide told me. He told me the bear would like right at me in the tree stand and told me the bear would make a death moan. He told me I had to stay up in the tree stand no matter what until he came back to get me.”
Staying in the tree stand proved to be a challenge the first evening when, while it was still light, a terrible thunderstorm came in. “I was 16 foot up in the air in a metal tree stand which is about the worst place to be in a storm like that. I could see the wind coming through the trees so I just tied myself in and rode it out.”
It was on the fifth day that Dave shot the bear. “I had seen him the night before and he looked right at me then. This time he looked at me and went back in the woods. He did that a couple of times and finally the third time he started feeding on the bait.”
Once the bear moved around Dave had a shot at the bear. “I knew I had gotten him and heard him make a death moan three times. I shot him about 7:40 but I had to stay in the stand until 8:15 when the guide came. The guide had already found the bear. We had to pull his teeth to give to send off to the State for research.”
Dave and the guide pulled the bear back to the bait area and loaded him on a four wheeler with a sled. They skinned the bear and put the hide in the freezer and checked the bear in with the state of Minnesota the next morning.
As they left the hunting area Dave got a cell phone out and waited until he was in a service area so he could call Pat and tell her his news , “I hadn’t used a cell phone before. I was a little excited. We stopped to show her at the motel.”
He and Pat cut up the meat (as a child Pat’s parents owned the locker in Cordova and so she is no stranger to butchering).
Before leaving the area they also enjoyed some fishing on Lake Superior, where they pulled in some lake trout and a King Salmon they packed up to enjoy later with their kids.
They iced down the fish and the bear meat and headed to Duluth where they dropped off the hide at the taxidermist before leaving for Nebraska. The hide was just finished recently and Dave also received the bear’s skull. The bear appeared to be about four years old and they estimated that it weighed about 250 pounds.
They both agreed the bear meat was delicious. Most of what they cut was more roasts as they had problems with their grinder, but they have enjoyed it anyway.
Dave regularly hunts and traps during the season’s and his home is filled with beautiful birds, geese, and other examples of his lifelong passion. Now, the bear is without a doubt the first thing anyone will notice when they enter the Erdkamp’s home.
It was at the top of his bucket list for a reason, it was a trip of a life for him and according to Dave, “If it wasn’t so expensive I’d go again in a heartbeat.”