So last night and buddy and I hung the rug from “my” grizzly. I say “my” in that I wasn’t the trigger puller, but I had several close encounters with this particular bear, and over a several year time period.
This story starts in 2006. My family has hunted the same camp since my dad and his buddies shot 3 moose there in 1978. From 1978 to 2006 we never had bear problems, not one. We always new they were around but never had them in camp nor had one present a shot. This particular trip there are 4 hunters ~ my dad, my cousin, a teenager on his first hunt, and myself. I shot a nice bull 3 days into the trip. Meat is hung and the head is sitting in camp. My cousin and I decided to hike and spike camp at another area to check it out, leaving dad with the green horn for a night. Late in the afternoon of the day we left, the kid is deep into a book and my dad is sitting at the hunting grounds, a mere 50 yards away. Kid decides to poke his head outside the cook shack to find the source of a disturbance. To his shock he sees a moose walking backwards into the brush. He yells at dad that we have a moose in camp! The old man scurries back to camp and does a complete double take. There is my moose head being drug into the brush by a big black body. He rubs his eyes and sees what he calls “the biggest black bear he’s ever seen “pick his head up from the moose head and scurry off into the brush. This “black bear” was quite brazen, walking into camp in mid day looking for a meal. After soothing some frayed nerves, dad and greenhorn inspect the meat for damage. The bear had taken a few chunks out of one front quarter, but that was it. The old man didn’t sleep the entire night, gun in hand, he heard every falling leaf and squirrel’s chatter. Cousin and I show up the next day, hear the news and decide to pack up camp and head to the area we just hiked into. We shot another bull that night, and the trip ended with no issues.
Fast forward to 2008. Dad, I and my buddy are back in moose camp. The previous yeard passed with no incidents. I shot a real nice 60 inch bull on the edge of our hunting grounds and we erected a meat pole right there. My buddy shot a super bull 4 days later. No incidents in camp, no midnight robbers or head jobs ~ very quiet as it should be. On the way out we stop to pick up my bull from the meat pole and I witnessed one of the spookiest sights I’d seen. A bear had excavated an enormous swath of ground and buried the gut pile from my moose. The amount of earth moved was **** impressive. We had checked the meat several times and found no disturbances during the week. The meat on the pole was unmolested. Man that is a creepy feeling to see the power of these bears.
The real fun happened the next year. My cousin and his wife, two buddies and I make up moose camp this year. The second night of the hunt, my buddy and I were sitting on the edge of the lake, not 50 yards from where I shot my moose the previous year. About 5pm we hear some splashing in the lake, off to my left, sounds like maybe 30 yards away through the brush. Something is walking the edge of the lake, but won’t be in view for another 20 yards or so. I tell my buddy to chamber a round and I’m going to grunt this bull right to us. I grunt twice and the walking stops dead in its tracks. Not a sound for 5 minutes, nothing more for another 10 minutes. We’re standing, waiting for this moose to come out any second……………I’ll never forget the sound that emanated directly behind us “Ha-woooosh” ~ a giant huff spun us around 180 degrees to see the ass end of a big griz dart through the alders no more than 20 yards behind us. The splashing we heard was the griz. Without a sound he flanked us, expecting that we were what we were imitating, which was going to be his dinner. We never heard a sound, nor if he wanted, would have never known what hit us. I had never been more frightened and exhilarated in my life. That is until two nights later. …
The next night my buddy shot a bull, very close to where we were almost ambushed. We gutted the critter and hung up the meat. I cut a few firing lines around the gut pile, determined to return and catch this griz feeding. The next day the wind was blowing from our camp directly to the gut pile. I assumed that no way the bear would hit the pile with our scent everywhere. About 7:30 we took the 10 minute stroll over to the pile. About 30 yards away we get our first view and we can see it’s been disturbed. We sit for 20 minutes and nothing stirring, so we slowly walk up to pile. The pile was in a small clearing with alder brush surrounding it on all sides about 30 yards away. No more than 60 seconds after we arrived at Mr. bear’s dinner I can hear him in the brush. I hear jaws snapping and the ground being pounded. I immediately jack a 300 grain TSX into the Browning .375 h&h with the safety off. Every sense I have is on full alert. I remember thinking that I could almost hear my hair growing. I checked to see that my scope was on its lowest power as I know this is going to be up close action. The bear is in the brush and moving, snapping jaws and huffing and pounding the ground. I look over to my buddy and he’s got this confused look on his face. Over the years he’s lost a lot of his hearing due to his profession. He whispers to me, “hey pat, them bushes are moving, and their aint no wind! No sh*T, the freak’n bear is right here. He jacks a shell into his Kimber 300 WSM and we are both living life to the max. We never did see him, but heard him for the next 3-4 minutes ~ which were an eternity. The last sound was directly in the area we needed to go back to camp. The 10 minute walk was intense, both of us re-living what just happened and wondering where he was. We went back at first light and found the gut pile completely removed, dragged into brush overnight. Two nights later my other buddy shot a moose within site from camp.
We have room for one more moose and the next evening we see one walking the edge of the clearing about 500 yards away. We scoot out to get in position, a few hundred yards more and we got him. Splish, splash, steps to our right. This is déjà vu all over again. The moose hears the same thing and freezes. Too far for a shot. The splashing stops, we are stopped and the moose is stopped. Both my cousin and I and the moose are looking at the same area, the sounds of the splashes. Thirty seconds go by and the moose darts into the brush. No confirmed sighting but we know exactly what spooked him.
Three days pass and we are on our last day of hunting. Nothing has hit the gut pile next to camp and given its close proximity to us we doubt the bear will come in. It is 8pm on our last night and they guys retire to the cook shack, a few adult beverages and sharing stories of moose kills and close encounters of the bear kind. My cousin’s wife is holding out until the end……………………..Crack goes the sound of the 30.06. We run out to see if a moose appeared for her…………………I just shot a f’n bear she screams in joy. Gun in hand I slowly approach the bear. He never knew what hit him. A crappy 1 dollar 165 grain Remington core-lokt, shot out of an under powered 30.06 entered his spine, just short of the skull. After 4 close encounters, this is the first time we’ve seen this bear in all his glory. He’s the darkest griz that any of us had ever seen. No wonder my dad thought he was a black bear when he saw my moose head being drug through the woods three years before. He squared just short of 8 feet, and his skull went 24 7/16. Given my history with this bear, my cousin’s wife gave me the hide. I think he looks pretty good on the wall. He has great blonde highlights on his neck.