NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN, Canada -- When a bear roars and completes three commando rolls within 20 steps of you, it’s hard to keep your composure.
Nicole Reeve, though, isn’t your average bear hunter. We won’t say she kept her composure, but she kept it in check enough to provide a unique and compelling look to Outdoor Channel’s “Live Hunts,” one most hunting fans might never see.
Nicole, the better looking part of “Driven with Pat &Nicole,” arrowed a bruin while thousands watched during a live hunt in the Boreal Forest in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada.
Click the image to see screen grabs of the webcast.
In one of the most remote parts of North America, the Reeves took part in an experiment that will surely be a more common part of the viewing experience for hunters worldwide. That experiment was putting a live-streaming camera in the middle of videoing a television show and airing it live on the internet.
“This is one of the highlights of our filming career,” said Pat Reeve, who has been videoing outdoor shows for more than 25 years, the last 10 on the Reeves’ signature series on Outdoor Channel.
“It’s one thing to go out and have everything come together for a 30-minute show that airs later after intensive editing,” he said. “But to be able to get the equipment together and show everything live, no editing but a raw second-by-second hunt, and have it come together is amazing.”
“Put all that together with the opportunity to interact with our audience and answer questions from them in the middle of the action and this is like nothing we’ve ever experienced,’’ Nicole Reeve said. “With so much going on, it’s amazing it all held together.”
Nicole’s composure withstood a test during the first hour and a half of a hunt that up to that point had been mostly watching a lifeless forest, intermixed with answering questions from viewers. It was in between answering those questions when Pat Reeve shushed everyone with the comment “bear.”
A few seconds later, two black bear sauntered into view and the collective catch of breath could be felt all across the country, even parts of the world. Viewers were watching all across North America with almost every state in the union represented. It didn’t stop there: A big portion of the viewers were from Canada, with a healthy sprinkling of eyes from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Namibia and South Africa.
Outdoor Channel’s Facebook page, which has more than 676,000 “Likes,” had a huge spike in its “People Talking About This” feature, climbing 10 times higher than usual to 350,000.
What those viewers saw was a bear hunt that has come to define what is available in the Boreal Forest. Two twin boar black bear eased into camera frame, making their way to an area where Timberclaw owner Brandon Schreiber had been placing bait for the last week and recently sweetened with Evolved Habitats Bear Jam. None of that was evident or purposely hidden as these twins moved into range.
Everything stood still for a moment as the bears fed for a moment then sped away like their backsides were on fire and their faces were catching.
“Don’t worry,’’ Pat said, “they’ll be back.”
Pat Reeve’s prophecy would prove true in a compelling fashion. Not only did the bears come back, but one sauntered up to the ladder of the tree stand Pat and Nicole were standing in.
“They know we are there,’’ Pat Reeve said hours before the hunt ever started. “They don’t care. They are the bad asses of these woods, so they don’t care.”
Watching the bear plod to the foot of the ladder, it was easy to buy into the bad-ass theory. With one bear sauntering around, viewers of the live hunt got a first-hand look at the king of the Boreal Forest surveying his domain.
Meanwhile, Nicole Reeve prepared for a shot that would make eyes wide from Namibia to Nebraska. As the bear moved from the stand to about 18 yards away, an arrow piercing the chest of the bruin would produce a roar and three commando rolls before forcing the bear into the woods.
That’s what the viewers saw. That’s what will mostly be seen on the “Driven” television show that will air on Outdoor Channel this Fall.
Viewers of the live feed saw something that typically would never be captured on tape. With the bear out of sight, the excitement would really start. Pat Reeve, wanting to make sure the bear was dispatched, left the stand, turning off the “Driven” camera with the expectation that the hunt was basically over. Nothing could be further from the truth. While he was 50 yards away, glassing a hillside with his binoculars, another bruin moved in between him and Nicole.
“Holy buckets,’’ Nicole said as she continued to talk to the viewing audience infusing her infectious excitement from having a successful hunt, while another bear stood less than 10 feet away. The excitement ratcheted up a notch when Pat Reeves motioned for Nicole to leave the tree and join him.
With a bear on the ground and in between the couple, it seemed like a crazy request.
“We owed it to the bear to make sure it was down,’’ Pat said. “That was all I was thinking about.”
As Nicole exited the stand for the coup de grace, it spooked the bear near the stand. It took off blowing and going, charging down the hill and missing Pat by about 6 feet.
“I didn’t know what it was going to do,’’ Pat said, “I hoped it was scared to death and didn’t see me as a threat.”
The bear was equally as spooked as the rest of the crew for those short moments. With the live stream running, Pat and Nicole eased near the shot bear that had taken refuge midway up a pine tree. But before a dispatching shot could be made, the bear started its way down.
The bear was dead, but there were no guarantees. The prudent thing for the Reeves to do was retreat, as the cumbersome animal crashed limbs on its way down. Less than 50 yards away, with Nicole running up the hill, Pat turned to see that the bear was expired. At the same time, Nicole stopped to check on Pat.
Always playful in the stand or not, Pat reacted like the bear was charging them, forcing Nicole to turn and hightail it back to the tree stand. As soon as she was running, Pat stopped, almost rolling over laughing so hard.
“That’s the type thing that happens on these shoots we never really get to capture on video because of the circumstance,’’ Pat said. “But that was fantastic. I laughed so hard.”
For the record so did everyone else, including Nicole.
It was the type thing only a live hunt can capture accurately.