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Area archery champ bags bear

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EUREKA -- It was approaching dusk and Tim Walker was sitting in a tree stand in the Wisconsin woods.

He waited for hours near a baited tree stump, bow and arrows at the ready, when he saw two smaller black bears.

He didn't get a clear shot, but noticed the second bear begin to pound its paws on the ground.

"They were acting funny because they knew a big bear was in the area," said Walker, 42, of Eureka, recalling the early September evening. "I didn't know that was why they were acting like that."

When the smaller bear started running toward him, Walker instinctively grabbed his pistol but "he just kept running past me and kept huffing and doing his bear roar and he started slamming his feet down again."

Walker turned and saw an 8-foot, 450-pound black bear with one paw on the baited stump.

"I made a perfect shot, double lunged him, cut the back of his heart; he went about 40 yards before he died," said Walker, a four-year archery state champion in North Carolina.

The retired U.S. Army veteran has bagged nine deer in the last two years with a bow.

"The adrenaline rush is way different than shooting a deer," he said. "To know that you're hunting a bear, it's just different because the bear can actually hunt you too.

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Walker was hunting with his father, Nick Walker of East Peoria, who had fished in the area the past 17 years. It was their first time bear hunting.

He was introduced to archery by his brother-in-law in 1999 while at Fort Bragg, N.C. He began shooting in tournaments and was state champion his first year. He competed in the World Archery Shooting Association and International Bowhunting Organization tournaments and finished 14th in the ASA and seventh in the IBO world tournaments.

He retired from the Army in 2006 after serving in Iraq, Korea and Germany.

At the check-in station, officials said the bear likely would be a record for archery. Walker is having a taxidermist produce it into a full body mount.

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