Lightning strikes twice (bear)

Dwreckers

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Jun 5, 2019
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282
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Washington
Headed back to the east side of the state this weekend to try and fill my other bear tag. Set up camp on Wednesday night and waited for the next day. Thursday started off fairly slow as I drove around and went on some short 1 mile “hikes” to look for bear sign without much luck. The first spot I did call in a coyote for fun but didn’t punch the trigger. Later that day I was scouring my OnX looking at pins I had put down on places to check out. I drove south about half hour to a new section of National Forest I’d never been to. I drove up the road for a few miles passing all the public that was blocked off by private until I finally reached my destination. I pulled off onto a little dirt road/camping spot that wasn’t on the map.

After checking to make sure I was near I wanted to be to hike in I was marking my truck on OnX when I looked up on the hillside there was a black blob standing there perfectly in the open. “That wasn’t just there” as I pulled up my binos. There on the sage covered hillside above the thin timber stood a black bear with a tan muzzle. Now I’m not one to turn down an easy animal for the truck as it never happens for me. I jump out the truck grab my rifle pop my clip in and off I went. I tried to cut the bear off hiking up another hill but it didn’t pan out. I spent the next 20 minutes looking for it to no avail. Not too bummed out I headed back to my truck as I left my backpack and phone in there. As I made my way down the hill where the bear initially was I caught a hot scent.

A scent being a novice bear hunter I’m not used to overcame my nostrils. “Is this what some bears smell like?” 40 yards in front of me pops out a bear. There it is! I pull up my rifle and the bear stops to look at me. “This isn’t the same bear” it’s chocolate and seems a little smaller and I can tell it’s a young sow after a few seconds. I sit there staring at it while she hasn’t scented me but can tell something is up. Out pops the littlest chocolate bear cub I’ve ever seen. I would’ve felt terrible for harvesting this bear and letting excitement take over before looking for cubs. The cub joined it’s mom and slowly they walked off. I was irritated I didn’t bring my phone cuz as soon as I got back to camp I knew the wife would be upset I didn’t take a video being that close. I made a game plan to come back the next morning and let it settle down.

4:30 am came pretty quick as I got ready ready at camp and loaded my pack up. I made the drive back to the spot and started my hike in. I made my way up the hill but had bad wind that would blow right into the ravine I wanted so I side hilled it on the opposite side glassing up and down the ravine. It took my probably 45 minutes or so to make it to the top as I took my time trying not to sweat too much. I finally made it to the top and started glassing making sure my scent wasn’t carried by the wind over into the other ravine. After a while the sun came up and the thermals started to shift. I made my way over the top and down the other side. The bottom was a beautiful old logging trail that hadn’t been used in years and years and was completely covered with grass. There was some old burned trees with lots of shrubs and downed logs it looked like bear country. I sat and glassed for an hour or so trying to leave no country unturned. It was deader than dead besides a hawk that cruised by me a few times. I started ranging a few spots I’d like for bears to come out but the average distance was about 400 yards. I like to keep my max shooting at 400 yards so I made my way down the hill to a nice rock that looked like a great glassing spot to cut down on the distance. As I got there I took my pack off and set my rifle down and wiped some sweat I had beading on my forehead. I realized there was a decent chunk I couldn’t see from my higher vantage point and that’s all I needed to see movement at the bottom. I could see a black object moving through the brush and I knew it was a bear. I threw up my binos and it was the same bear as yesterday I initially saw. I tried to get ready for a shot but it was such a steep downward angle I couldn’t get into a comfortable position. I moved slowly this way and that way shifting my body in a manner I had some sort of comfortable shooting platform. I had never practiced shooting at an angle like this.

The bear had no idea I was nestled above it at 183 yards. It disappeared into a small brush patch and for the next 10-15 minutes I would catch glimpses of it standing up eating on some elderberries with no shot opportunity. I kept glassing and ended up realizing it was a sow so I had to make sure there were NO cubs anywhere. She finally ended up feeding out of the brush and into an open spot about 200 yards away. I got comfortable enough and waited for her to stop. “Breathe slowly and squeeeeze the trigger” BOOM. She turns around and starts trotting back to the brush. I could tell she was hit but not how good so I took another shot that definitely missed. I sat on my rock poised to shoot again if needed but it never came out of the brush. I waited 15 minutes or so and slowly made my way down the hill picking my route as it got even steeper close to the bottom. I had to shimmy my way down some rocks holding onto anything I could to not let myself tumble all the while still watching the brush area and surrounding areas. As I got to the brushy bottom where the bear had went in I dropped my pack off rifle at the ready in case the job wasn’t done. I decided to circle the brush downwind and slightly uphill of the brush patch. As I circled and climbed some logs I spot a black fur patch lying in the brush. I get myself ready at 20 yards and tossed a rock. No movement. I make my way up and there is a beautiful black sow who expired over a log.

I sit down with the bear and place my hand on it. I always give thanks to any big game animal I harvest that feeds me and the family. I go back grab my pack and start the butchering process. Definitely would’ve helped having a 2nd pair of hands and a 2nd person to share the weight with but that wasn’t the case. After a while struggling here and there to skin the bear out and quarter it I made the trip back to the truck which was only 3/4 of a mile away but being young I did the whole thing in one trip hide and meat. Ended up being slightly smaller of a bear than my one I got 2 weeks ago but for my 3rd bear I was excited to actually harvest a “black” bear. Happy to do my part in predator management in a state that basically lets them run rampant and does nothing about it.

Sorry for the long post I’ll try and get better at writing shorter stories but for now time to get unpacking at home and getting ready for MT antelope next month.
 

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Salmonchaser

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Nov 12, 2019
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Outstanding. One of the photos looks like you might have some Hawthorn brush. We saw quite a few bears early sept in the Hawthorn around here. Looks like you might have a honey hole in the future!
 

Dwreckers

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Joined
Jun 5, 2019
Messages
282
Location
Washington
Outstanding. One of the photos looks like you might have some Hawthorn brush. We saw quite a few bears early sept in the Hawthorn around here. Looks like you might have a honey hole in the future!
Could be. I definitely need to get better at my plant ID and I bet that would help me connect the dots a little more. I didn’t even know what elderberries were until after 😅
 

Dwreckers

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Joined
Jun 5, 2019
Messages
282
Location
Washington
Makes sense. By the way you were talking I figured it was either WA or OR. Still trying for my first bear here in W. Oregon.
I mean all I can say is I’ve been lucky. Not skill by any mean as I’ve never taken it seriously but definitely will next year. I went from harvesting 1 bear in 12 years or so to now harvesting 2 more this year in 2 weeks
 

RobertD

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Jul 16, 2020
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1,836
Location
Southwest Georgia (GA)
I mean all I can say is I’ve been lucky. Not skill by any mean as I’ve never taken it seriously but definitely will next year. I went from harvesting 1 bear in 12 years or so to now harvesting 2 more this year in 2 weeks
Better lucky than good but I bet it was more skill than luck, at least more than you realize. Great job and thanks for the story.
 

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