I have been trying to get a nice berry fed, fall black bear since I moved up here. It has not been easy! They are usually up in mountain goat country in the steep nasty stuff. Every time it seems I've been foiled by the wind. On the steep mountain faces with huge valleys below, the wind is never consistent and what it's doing on the valley floor is not what its doing on the mountain.
So today I set out for possibly my last go for the year. Glassing along the highway yielded no bears. So I hit a trailhead that I've seen a good number of bears in the past and started the climb. The trailhead switchbacks its way up steeply before it levels out at an alpine hanging valley. It climbs 1000 ft in 1.25 miles before leveling out.
Hiking in another 2.75 miles, I quickly spotted a bear above me. The wind was good and I had a decent route. There's lots of alders and brush between us and the bear looks preoccupied with the berries covering the ground. So it looks like a good stalk opportunity. I have a 0.5 mile climb which ascends another 1000 ft.
The climb is going good and the wind starts swirling. I'm thinking the result will be me getting to the top and the bear will be long gone. But I have to see how it plays out, I've gotta get lucky one of these times right?
I reach the alder line and start looking... nothing. I take a few steps and look, a few more and look. There it is!
Holy cow! I got above tree line on one of these bears and it's within range!!! I drop to the ground and slip off the pack and range the bear. 278 yards. With the incline I call it an even 250. I lay down on the pack and wait for it to move into the open again. Broadside to me I fire... hit hard, the bear takes off and I hit it again. The bear begins cartwheeling down the mountain. I felt elated to finally get one of these bears.
I climbed over to it and it was smaller than I thought but still a good bear. The hair was luxurious and probably 4 inches long and growing out to the ends of it's claws. Jet black!
She's probably a 5 foot sow, I didn't measure. I quartered, skinned and loaded up. The way down was going to be tough, going up is one thing, down is another. Slick rotten wet vegetation combined with alders and devils club!
I got to the bottom and made my way to some gear I stashed, stuff I didn't need to take up there with me. I laid on the ground for a while and drank some water. Well, I better get too it. I started putting stuff in the bag and looked up and there were three guys coming down the trail in camo with big packs. This couldn't be....
A friend of mine said he was going up in there on Thursday but was going all the way across to the other end, where there's another trailhead. I figured he was a long ways away, that or out and headed home. But, could this be them???
They got closer and I could see that it was him. They had taken one bear and took it out a couple days earlier. Boy it was good to see these guys! They quickly offered to take some of my load and we headed for the trucks 3 miles away.
I'm looking forward to trying some of the meat, as I've been wanting to see what a fall berry fed bear will be like. Can anyone tell me, I want to make some bacon burger. Would you cut all the bear fat off before grinding. The fat is pure white and doesn't smell strong. I trimmed a ton off of it already and there's still some between the layers of muscle. Would you leave this for flavor or get rid of it?