With the decent weather forecast for the weekend, my wife and I decided to head south to make another attempt on her goat tag. Like the previous week, the goats we saw were either nannies with kids or, in the case of a lone billy, in a very inaccessible location where falling would have meant coming off the mountain in a helicopter. (We're not giving up on that one yet, but hoping that some snow might push him down in the weeks to come.) While glassing for goats, we saw three black bears up on top of the ridge within about 300 yards of each other. With reasonably nice weather and time to burn, we decided to climb and see if luck would shine on us.
Three hours later we were above where we thought the bears would be, so after a short break to refuel after a tiring climb, we started poking our heads around rocks to get a view into the chutes below us. Within a minute or two I spotted the back of a bear moving through the grass. We decided to move wide to the side in an attempt to descend to the same elevation rather than shooting from above. Moving one descending spine over, we soon noticed that another bear was in view. This one appeared smaller, though, so we declined to pursue him and descended as planned. That bear eventually spotted us at about 100 yards, but he just sat down and watched the scene unfold. Nearing where we thought we would look over the edge, suddenly I saw that same black hump directly below us, only this time at about 50 yards. Unbeknownst to us, the bear had changed directions and had fed directly towards us. We quickly hit the deck and shed our packs, getting ready for what was to come. Over the next two or three minutes the bear kept coming slowly, its head down as it feasted on berries. We kept getting partial views of its back and head, but there were a few rocks that hid its vitals enough to prevent a clean shot. Soon enough, though, the bear exposed the top 2/3 of its body at about 30 yards. My wife made a perfect shot and the bear quickly hunched up, clearly hit, and ran downhill. I sprinted down to where it was standing in case I needed to make a follow-up shot, but instead found the bear laying motionless another 50 yards downhill. I really couldn't be surprised, though, as this was my wife's 3rd big game animal - taken with a grand total of three shots. Her accuracy in the field puts mine to shame, and I couldn't be prouder!
The bear that watched the stalk ran away when my wife shot, but he obviously wasn't too scared, as he fed back into view 30 minutes later. He came back again an hour into the butchering process as well. I was tempted to make this a double, but after packing her bear off the mountain, I was pretty glad that we just took pictures.
My bride holding what is to become bacon. Love it!