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cowboy38231's picture
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Location: West TN
Joined: 11/27/2011
Posts: 105
2nd season colorado bear

Of all the trips ( 10 or 11) I have taken to my normal stomping ground in Co., I have only seen 1 bear and didn't have a tag then. I have always seen fresh sign every trip be it tracks in the snow or rocks or logs flipped over or scat. So after the last couple trips seeing fresh sign within a few hundred yards of camp I decided it was time for me to look for my bear. Here's my story.

I was pretty bummed that this was the first trip that I didn't get drawn for a deer. Even when we don't get elk, we can generally get deer. I decided I would try to get a bear tag instead. Luckily they still had a tag left, I was in business. We got to our area and go through the ritual of loading the atv's and making our 9 mile run to our campsite. It was great weather and was not in the forecast to change. I was really wishing for a little snow. We spent the next couple days getting our wood cut and getting camp set up for our week on top of the world (10,400 ft). I told everyone that I had decided to go after a bear first instead of trying to fill my bull tag. They all said I was crazy, that I better just go after elk and if I see a bear I would be lucky.

Opening morning I headed up to glass the area where we found fresh tracks last year. I watched and glassed the area hoping to spy the bear or an elk feeding in the early morning light with no luck. About 10am I decided to check the area for any sign. We had seen so many elk in this area the year before that I decided to stay out until opening day. I made my way down the rocks to the patches of timber that stood between me and the meadow. There was still small patches of snow in the shade from a snowfall a couple weeks prior I assume. I get down the bottom and what did I find? My bear tracks right there in the little bit of snow they appeared to be a day or 2 old. Tracks looked pretty big to me I was guessing 5 inches or so. I am not a bear hunter but I thought they were big. I started the slow methodical tracking job of searching the small scattered patches of snow trying my best to figure out what this bruin was doing. I followed these tracks in a huge circle, probably about 200 to 300 acres worth and came right back to where I started. The bear was feeding in the shadows and not coming out in the open. Seemed like I was after a smart bear. I knew that I must have missed the tracks where they left the circle so I started around again. When I got to the northern most part of the perimeter I decided to look in the only covered escape route from the area. A bit of black timber between a huge rockpile that runs east and west for a mile or more and the peak of the mountain that I really wouldn't want to climb. There was a good 150 to 200 yards wide between the two and this drainage ran the distance of the rock pile. I was searching the patches of snow in the timber which were covered by elk tracks. I finally found the bear tracks again but could not determine which direction they were going. By now it was getting late in the day so I decided to go back and watch the meadow until dark and try again in the morning.

When I got back to camp I found out dad had gotten his elk. A nice little 5x5. I was so happy for him because this was his first elk. He was like a little kid at Christmas.

The next morning I went back and watched the meadow for the first couple hours of daylight but nothing again. I then followed the tracks around the area again to see if I had missed something. They took me to the same escape route as I had looked in the day before. I started looking further into the black timber patch and found them again a little further back. I continued to find a track every now and then following a cow trial but still sticking to the shadows. I had now tracked this bear about 2 miles from camp. It was about noon and I decided I would stop and eat a snack when I came out of the timber at the next meadow. I came to a rockpile going down to a meadow below. This meadow had the large rockpile on the south side and the base of the peak on the north. The meadow was about 100 or so yards wide and 500 yards long before it slope gently up to another larger meadow. I sat down at the rocks edge so I could see the entire area and started to dig a snack out of the pack and a brown movement caught my eye behide a small clump of pines in the middle of the meadow. I told myself "thats an elk". Black bears are supposed to be black right? After a few minutes I caught the movement again, but it was still on the other side of those pines. I ranged the pines at 227 yards and got my rifle positioned in case it was something I could shoot at. A few minutes later I saw what looked like a head through one of the openings in the pines. My binocs pointed to the spot like a laser and my heart almost exploded. I was looking at what seemed to be a small bears head attached to a large body. The briun stuck its head and neck into the opening and slowly gazed around the area. Then turned away from me and faded back into the trees. I was shaking and my heart was pounding, I thought I would have a heart attack. This sherade of hide and seek went on for about 25 minutes but I was going no closer. The bear looked like it was big enough to eat me! By now I had put the binocs down and was watching through my scope just trying to get a shot. When out of nowhere the bear stepped back into the little opening and stood up to get pine cones out of a tree. I had a clear shot from the bottom of the ribs up. I took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger on my Ruger 30-338. The bear flopped and dissapeared behind the pines. I had to let my nerves calm down so I sat and waited. After the most grueling 25 minutes I have ever experienced I started the very slow and cautious walk across the meadow to look for my bear. I swung out wide from the clump of pines and could see anything that looked like my bear in it. I was getting a little worried and then a brown blob caught my eye about 50 yards past the pins. There layed my bear not 20 ft from where it was standing when I shot. The bear had actually been on the other side of those pines and I was watching through a small opening. The closer I got the bigger it was. I very slowly eased up to the bruin to make sure it was dead. No doubt, it was done, my 165 grain bullet passed through both lungs. I was amazed that I had actually had my bear. I rolled the bear over and to my amazement it was a sow. I didn't think they got that big. And sure couldn't tell by looking at her from a distance. Now the work would begin. I walked the 2 miles back to camp without stopping. Got some help and off we went to pack her out.

She was 6 feet from nose to tail and the DOW office in Glenwood Springs estimated her at 10 to 12 yrs old. I will find out for sure this spring. The officer that checked her in said she was large for a sow and figured 300 to 350 pound. He was very impressed by her size and told me I had a real trophy. He also said because of her color and the small ears, she would be mistaken for a grizzly very easily. When I got home, I weighted 86 pounds of meat to be processed. Now the long wait for the hide to be tanned.

 

 

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Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Well Cowboy, that was one

Well Cowboy, that was one heck of a story!  A beautiful bear.  I am looking at doing somethign similar next year in Colorado, and for 2nd season also.  My plan was to get an elk and deer tag, so I could shoot either one.  Then, a couple of guys suggested that I get a bear tag also, because in some areas, you are as likely to see a bear as you are to see an elk or deer.  That way, I would have 3 options of animals to shoot.  However, knowing my luck, at that point I would come across a big bull moose and a few cows, and nothign else4. lol

Congratulations on a fine animal!  That is still something I want to do some day, harvest a bear.  As for your comment about "black" bears, they actually have lots of color phases.  I think a cinnamon colored hide would be very high on my wish list for a bear. Hope you enjoy the meat, and make sure to throw up a photo of the work that they do on the hide so we can all see how it turns out.

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  AHA!!!  I knew you had a

 

AHA!!!  I knew you had a great story behind that profile picture!!!  That is a great looking bear you harvested Cowboy - Congrats and my hats off to you!!!  A 6ft bruin at about 350 pounds is certainly a trophy!!!  The coat looks great in the pictures.  I think... no I know I too would be shaking with adrenaline and the heart pounding hard.  Heck I was that way with a smaller 200 pound black bear that only provided to me 7 very quick seconds of a sighting... and I never saw him again that year.  I am envious of your great bear harvest but I am also very happy for you.  This bear and that huge muley buck make for two great animals for your trophy room.  Are you getting a rug made out of that bear or will you do some sort of mount?  Great story and thanks for sharing it and the pics with all of us!  I look forward to the next story!!!  Thumbs up

 

 

cowboy38231's picture
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Location: West TN
Joined: 11/27/2011
Posts: 105
A full body mount

A full body mount is what I have in mind. My taxidermist has never mounted a bear and offered to do it at a discounted rate. I am leaning towards a standing on all fours with her front elevated on a rock or stump. I will have several months to decide because the turn around time for the tanning is 6 to 8 months. Stay tuned for my next short story. I have a couple elk stories to tell and some more pics to share. But don't worry, those stories aren't near as long.

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Man, I don't know if I could

Man, I don't know if I could wait 6-8 months to get that back.  Very cool he's giving you a discount.  Hopefully he turns out good.  Make sure to keep us updated.

cantgetdrawn's picture
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Congrats

Great read cowboy.  Almost every story I read about sucessfull Colorado hunts are people searching for elk and seeing a bear, rearly have I heard of someone chasing bear and actually getting one, great tracking job. 

Look forward to hearing your elk stories, curious as to whether you were able to get a bull with this beautiful bear. 

Thumbs up

cowboy38231's picture
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Location: West TN
Joined: 11/27/2011
Posts: 105
No bull this trip

I did not get a bull this trip. I actually was so happy with the bear that I didn't care if I got anything else. I spent most of the next day helping a couple guys in our group get out an elk and a deer. Then it started snowing on Tue. and by Wed morning we had about a foot of snow. We decided to break camp a few days early so we could get down the mountain.

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That's a pretty cool story

That's a pretty cool story and a great hunt.  I too would like to harvest a bear in the next few years, been saving some points too, but haven't decided exactly where I want to go yet.  Seems like there are a lot of bear in Colorado.  I see them every year during scouting and hunting trips, but they are usually much smaller than your nice sow.

Congrats on a nice bear!  I hope the mount turns out as great too.

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Cowboy, great story and

Cowboy, great story and congratulations on a very fine looking bear. I will be going spring bear in May and plan on doing a full body mount walking on all fours. If I am lucky to get both bears I will do a full mount walking with the second standing on its hind legs looking at the other one. Look forward to seeing your mount once it is done.

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I have never seen a bear

I have never seen a bear while actually out hunting. Seen a few of them other times but not with a rifle in my hands.

Here's a good one though. I was at the Glenwood DOW office mid week sometime due to a slight problem during the second season. There was someone checking in a bear but I didn't take time to talk as we were in a hurry to get back out hunting. Might have been you? I did notice the one we saw had a fair sized white spot on the chest though.

cowboy38231's picture
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Location: West TN
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Posts: 105
Must have been another

Must have been another bear, mine had no white. Mine was also already skinned. There was one other guy in the DOW office but he was getting a small game license. That would have been cool to meet like that though.

Like I said in my original post, I have only seen one other bear for certain in 10 or 11 trips. And I just saw it running the other direction for a few seconds. One of the other guys in our group saw a big boar a couple days after I got mine. I think the success rate after the September seasons was 4 percent last year. That's pretty slim odds. Not sure what make September such a better time to get a bear.

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