My brother in law scored last night. Its been a couple years in the making. Last year we had one night to hunt, and had a bear come in but vamoose before he could get a shot. He made another night available, but nothing came in. So this year we walked in last week, and had a bear come in the same trail, and do pretty much the same thing. Stay behind the trees, then turn around and slowly leave without offering a shot.
So enter last night. I'm supposed to be in a camp at Alexander Creek for 3 days hunting bear, but had to cancel due to home fires that needed attending. We were able to get out to my bait, though, so off we went! I'm not set up very well for two people. I have one nicely set stand, then a stool that just straps to a trunk. Previously, we had it in the same tree, just lower. It seemed like I was getting busted when I sat it. This time, we moved my chair to a tree further back from the bait, right at ground level. I put a few sticks between myself and the bait, and left just a small window from the bait to my tree for the bear to see me in. It wasn't a blind- by few sticks I mean literally I poked 3 little spruce boughs into the moss.
When we arrived at the bait, it was gone. A week ago there was a full barrel of dog food, plus bread and candy on the ground. Our permit was chewed up, someone climbed our tree and ate half the seat cushion, and the roots of the tree with the barrel were pretty well excavated. It looked really good for a night of watching!
After we got everything set up, warm clothes on, bug dope, head nets, water bottle handy, we settled in to watch. We had a squirrel and camp robbers visiting, but no bear. We both heard footsteps, though. A branch crack here, moss squishing there. The anticipation was high! Suddenly, a little after 10, a set of ears, soon followed by the rest of the bear, appeared on the ridgeline to my left. (My station sits on a ridge, with muskeg and a small pond to one side, screened by about 50 feet of black spruce, and muskeg, spruce and birch to the other, with a creek running about 50 yards from the bottom of the ridge. Most bears come down the ridge toward our stand as they make the final approach to the bait.) This was the first bear I had ever seen use this particular trail. Very interesting. Most interesting, it was less than 30 feet away! It looked over toward the bait, then right at me. Like I said, I wasn't in a blind. There was no cover between me and the bear. I had trees at my back, and camoed up with a bug net on. I heard Mike's stand creaking a little, but the bear never looked up toward him- just glanced at the bait. It took a few steps my direction, then stuck its nose up testing the wind. I slowly eased my safety off, experiencing a little twinge when my glove caught. There was a fallen spruce with no branches left pointing right to me, and the bear slowly started following it toward me. It got about 10 feet away, then turned toward the bait. Its hackles were up, but I wasn't worried about a charge. To me they were just up cause she knew something wasn't quite right. I slowly followed her with my gun barrel, which was resting across my knees. At this point, I was wondering how bad a .300 would kick if shot from that position.
I never got worried that the bear would charge me- my first thought when it crested the hill was, "bear!" then, "oh, its a little one." I never saw anything to change that first impression, except when she lifted her head to wind me and the proportions were so good. As she approached, I just wanted to remain motionless so Mike could shoot if he wanted to. I didn't want to run it off. However, I was prepared to shoot if it did make a lunge at me.
When it turned, and I saw the hackles, I had no idea what the next move would be. She took a step, and the hackles started to drop, then BOOM! Mike had gotten turned around in the stand, and dropped the bear. As soon as he shot, I put the gun to my shoulder, but there was no need. Spine, lung, heart, liver, stomach, back leg. She reared up, spun, and rolled onto her back, and never moved except to take a few last breaths.
I was actually pretty happy that it was a small bear, on a few levels. It behaved differently than a larger bear would have, and didn't cause me any great concern, as something bigger may have. Most importantly, neither of us really felt like packing a very heavy load last night. We were both cutting and hauling firewood all day, so weren't in the best of condition. We got her skinned, quartered and packed up, and hit home a little after midnight, after the mile and a half of mostly swamp.
a few more
The first picture is looking from the bear to my stool. The second is looking from my stool to where the bear was when Mike shot it. I didn't have to zoom!
Great writeup and nice looking bear glad you two were able to connect!
Thanks bronco. One thing that impresses me most looking at the picture: ear size is not the end all in judging a bear's size. I'm guessing the bear at around 4'6"- quite small; yet her ears are spaced wide, set to the side of the head, small in proportion to her head, and her face looks well filled out. It would definitely be easy to mistake it for a larger bear, if all you saw was the head and you didn't have a good distance or size reference.
Great story! I love hearing these bear hunting stories because I have a bait site running right now and I am hoping to arrow a bear. Thats a beautiful bear, nice and small, I hope to get one similar to that, I bet it'll taste great! I love hunting