Wife's first Blackie
*long story follows: scroll to bottom for pics
Well, she did it! Her 5th night in a stand, climbing through thorns and mud to get there, and when the moment arrived, she was cool as a cucumber!
I have a station in the Palmer area, and its only a hike in trail. It takes about half an hour to get to the stand, and its all uphill! There are quite a few stations in the area, so we try the stealth approach, sans four wheeler, to access and bait the station. It makes the hunt all the more rewarding when we do connect, but my wife was very ready to find a bear so she wouldnt' have to make the climb anymore!
We got to the stands a little bit late, about 8:30, and were finally settled in about 8:45, after a rather difficult climb. Paula's knees were giving her fits, but she had hung in there and made it just fine. When we got to the bait, it looked terrific! The 50 pounds of bread and dogfood I had brought in the day before were almost completely gone, and the ground was dug up, exposing some month old grapes and melon husks, which also were very chewed. Tape holding my registration to the tree was slashed, and my syrrup drip had been pulled down. I felt like a little boy going fishing with daddy- couldn't WAIT to get into my tree and watch a bear come back in! After rebaiting, I got into my warm gear and climbed the tree, pulled up my rifle and settled in. (This was my wife's night, but I had the backup!)
Action started almost immediately. Only a couple minutes into our wait, a rotten stump or log was torn open right up the hill from our bait. It was music to my ears! I was pretty certain it was a bear tearing it up, but until you see it, its all speculation. The woods went quiet after that, then a few minutes later a squirrel left the vicinity of the bait pile, scurried uphill a hundred feet or so, then began chattering and carrying on, then went quiet and quickly scampered off to one side. The birds were singing, but the squirrels stayed off the bait site. Every once in a while a branch would break, and some leaves would rustle as if from a softly placed paw. It was very easy to hold still, as I was almost positive there was a bear prowling the hill above the bait. Then I heard the teeth clack. A short time later, something began huffing above our bait, and continued to huff and snort for about 10 minutes. There was a sudden loud scramble in the leaves, as if the bear had made a short run then made a quick stop, huffing loudly when he stopped. I was starting to worry now that the bear, which sounded like a big boar, was trying to push us off the bait, and wouldn't come in until we left. (The backdrop to my bait is very dense alder and devils club, so its tough to see more than 30 feet behind it.) I just concentrated on staying still, and trying to read what was happening with my ears. Just a few minutes after hearing the short charge, the bear began walking steadily down the hill, staying off to one side of the bait. Almost certain it was a bear, I became sure when I saw a flash of black through the alders. I looked back at my wife, and wiggled my gun, hoping she would see that and get ready. Sure enough, she did, and brought her gun to a ready position in her lap.
Moments later, the bear broke into the open, stopped, looked slowly around, then turned and headed directly to the bait. He was a nice boar, with a great hide. (I think its the one I saw early in the season, but can't be certain. We let it go then to try for an archery shot or wife shot later in the season. I got the archery shot on a different bear, and here was wife's opportunity to harvest a great bear for her first!) I settled in with my rifle, ready to finish the bear if her shot was off. No worries! After lifting her gun, then putting it down to re-orient herself- she lost the crosshairs against its black side, the bear quartered away and she pulled the trigger! Her shot rolled the bear, then when he turned to run all he could do is tumble and roll down the hill. I waited to shoot, not wanting to damage more meat than I had to, then suddenly it got to a somewhat level spot on the hill and took off running! I took a shot which missed just before it disappeared into the thick stuff again. As soon as the bear entered the alders, though, he tumbled again, and stayed down a little longer, before standing and rolling downhill some more. ( I couldn't see it, just heard it and saw the alder tops shaking.) I was trying to decide whether to follow it right away, or let it have some time to expire before going in after it, but the bear rolled a little further into the alders, and I decided to go try to find and finish it. I climbed down my tree, then went to Paula's, and told her to stay put and watch the alders, to try and see where the bear went if it bolted. I understand fully the dangers of what I was about to do, but felt then and still do now that it was a well calculated risk, and would turn out well. The leaves and grass are very loud in our area, so you can hear any movement in them. I had a good fix on where the bear was laying, and I knew from watching him go down the hill that he was very hard hit. I did not want him to get a last death charge in and end up many yards deeper into the pucker brush, and knew I had a very good chance of seeing him before he did run off. I didn't follow the blood, but circled in uphill of the spot I thought he was laying in. I heard a branch break, then silence. Yah, there's good reason to call it pucker brush! About 20 feet further down the trail, as I crouched scanning the brush below me, I spotted the bear. He was about 30 feet away, laying on a tussock with his head propped up on an alder. I sat and held my rifle on him, ready to fire the instant he stood up, or ready to sit and wait for his last breath. Well, he stood to all fours, and I laid him right back down! I wasn't in fear of being charged then, as he stood and turned away from me, never having shown any awareness of me or his surroundings. As I said, he was very hard hit. I was afraid, however, because of how he had gathered himself and run into the bush initially, that he would take off and turn the hunt into a wait and stalk game, on a blood trail through darkening devils club.
My bullet entered through the shoulder, split the front of the rib cage, through his neck vertebrae, the caratid, and lodged under the skin of his neck. Paula's shot had broken the shoulder joint on his left side, jellied both lungs, missed the heart by a hair, and broke 2 ribs on the far side. I whooped to let Paula know I was ok, then made my way gingerly back to her stand. She climbed out of her stand, and we started packing up to go see her bear and begin work on it. No sooner had she bent over to put a sweater away, then another bear took off from behind the bait and bolted down the hill to our left! She wanted to head back up the tree, I made her stay on the ground, so both our rifles could be "brought to bear" if need be. Well, thats' why the bear was huffing and carrying on earlier- it might have actually been both bears that we heard, but the one that came in faced down the other bear before coming down the hill! He was clearly the dominant bear, as he never looked nervously back up the hill. He did look back up the hill, and was facing that way as he ate, but in a disinterested manner. He was not skittish or jumpy in any way.
The other bear never showed back up, so we went into the brush, took photos, then began the work.. she pulled the trigger at 10, and we got back to the truck with 195 pounds of bear meat and hide, 2 rifles and our warm layers, at 2 am. We were exhausted, full of devil club and rose thorns, and I never felt better in my life! I am truly blessed by a wife who is also a hunting partner! If she wasn't hooked before, she certainly is now!
When we sealed the skull, green score was 17 9/16, hide squared at 6'. One rub on the left shoulder, which served as a great bullseye! And the best numbers? 42 pounds of summer sausage, 12# burger, and 45 pounds of roasts, ribs, and backstrap! Yay!
Another interesting note: The bear had a broken aluminum arrow shaft in his back, about 5" long. The broadhead was in there too, but was unscrewed from the shaft, and the blades had dissolved. It looked like the arrow had cracked the tops of both shoulderblades, went through the large tendon behind the neck on the top of the shoulders, and lodged in a vertebrae. We lost parts of both backstraps and shoulders from infection in the wound, and a good portion of both shoulders. Its amazing that not only did the bear survive the wound, but that he was thriving!
Man, that's one tough bear.
Originally Posted by willphish4food
Great story! Thanks for posting.
Thanks Dan, and your welcome. I love seeing members of the fairer sex out in the woods enjoying hunting! I still can't believe HOW tough that bear was... it certainly gives one more respect for the importance of a well placed shot! I like to archery hunt, and the importance of "field condition" practicing is pounded home again when I see something like this bear. Man, what an awesome animal they are!
Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska