This story is scheduled to be featured in several magazines over the upcoming months. Based on the inquiries in this forum about bow hunting Grizzlies, I wanted to post it here as well. There are only a handful of guides in North America that can and will provide a true Spot and Stalk style hunt for Big Boar Grizzly.
Heres the story .....
Hi Guys. I returned from my grizzly hunt in British Columbia on September 21st. I had an awesome hunt! I have dreamed of bowhunting grizzlies since I was 12 years old and I finally made it a reality. It was all I expected and more.
On the fourth morning of my hunt I harvested an 8'4" boar whose skull measured 25 10/16" which will exceed the Boone & Crockett minimum. I was not necessarily after a "trophy" bear but I am told it is an exceptional bear especially for an interior mountain grizzly. To say the least I am very happy. If you have ever dreamed of doing a grizzly hunt you can make it happen. Just decide to do it and start saving your pennies.
Even though this was a mountain grizzly hunt, there are several small creeks in the area that get a late run of salmon. One creek, in particular, regularly gets a late run of salmon and the hope was they would still be in the creek when I arrived on September 10th. Luckily the salmon were there and my guide was pumped when I met him at the airport. He said there were bear trails everywhere in the places he scouted and alot of dead fish on the trails.
The plan was to sneak in as quietly as possible along the creek, find a spot with reasonable visibility, (very thick cover most places), and wait for something to happen. You could see the salmon spawning. Their constant splashing caused us to consistently scan the creek for bears, since to me, the it sounded like a grizzly splashing around.
It took some getting used to, sitting on a bear trail, in absolute silence, surrounded by half eaten, rotting, salmon with nothing but your bow on your lap and less than 10 yards of visibility. The ground was also covered in thick moss which would hide the sound of any approaching bear.
After about 6 hours of sitting, a sow, with 3 large "cubs", came out of the alders and jumped in the creek to grab a fish. Even though Sows with cubs are off limits my pulse doubled just at the sight. We could hear them now fighting over the fish in the thick cover across the creek. When the wind shifted the largest cub and the sow came back into the creek to investigate. They were nervous about our scent and bolted back onto the cover. They came back out a few minutes later and we decided to leave the situation alone.
The next day, we chose a different spot on the creek about two miles away from the first. We saw another sow with 2 cubs and decided to move right away because if a sow with cubs was around the larger boars were probably not in the immediate area.
We hiked about a mile upstream through thick cover and devil's club which is head high and full of prickers. The spot we found looked very promising. This new site had better visibility and lots of sign. My guide and I decided to move about 100 yards apart in order get the best visibility possible. It started to downpour but I kept up my vigil. About 5 hours later I hear my guide coming from up-river. With a wild look in his eye he told me to hurry and that he had a close encounter with a seven foot griz. When I got to his spot the bear was gone but the excitement in my guide's voice told me this was no ordinary encounter. My guide, because of the downpour, moved a little off the creek and under a large hemlock. This also happened to be on a well used bear trail in thick cover. The only noise he heard was a large splash and when he jumped up to look in the creek the bear was less than 7 yards away. The bear was walking upwind on the same path he was sitting and if the bear didn't jump in the water I shudder to think what could have happened.
We then walked a mile away set up on a different spot. It was now 6 pm and the spot had great visibility. We could see 200 yards upstream and 100 yards downstream. To my amazement after just 15 minutes of sitting there, a beautiful 6-1/2 foot blonde boar was up-steam about 200 yards. I decided to try for a stalk while the guide waited there and shot video. I picked my way thru the thick cover for about 40 yards and could see the bear directly across the creek in the water and he was headed directly at me. I was only about 15 feet from the elevated bank and he was still coming. The wind was in my favor and I knew this could get pretty crazy. I crouched down and came to full draw. I could only see the top of his head but he was coming up the bank. He was now 15 feet away and if he jumps up over the bank he will be in my lap.
Surprisingly, I am not nervous but focusing on the possible shot. I am very aware of the danger but like Pat says in his grizzly hunt you sometimes just react in a way that may surprise you in a situation like that. The grizzly was 15 feet away and coming up the bank. I could now see his eyes and the top of his head but I was pretty sure he could not see me. For some unknown reason he all of a sudden went back down the bank and nonchalantly headed downstream. As quickly and as quietly as I could I straddled the stream but the brush was too thick to get a shot. The bear went right past my guide at 15 yards who took some great film. I ran past him and snapped a twig in the process and the bear was gone.
We stood there laughing about how I should have stayed right there. I then looked upriver and unbelievably there was another 7' boar 200 yards up from us in the same part of the stream the other bear had come from. This was too much. We had seen 10 grizzlies in 2 days of hunting. Man I was having a blast. We decided to sit tight for this bear and see if he would also walk past us. Instead the bear decided to exit the stream. We waited ‘til dark, then hiked a mile thru the woods back to the logging road.
The next morning we decided to head to the same spot and wait it out all day there. My confidence was very high. After just 5 minutes of getting there, I was still getting organized, I looked up and sure enough there was another grizzly upstream about 100 yards. It looked like a sow and this was confirmed when her three cubs stepped out into the stream. The largest cub was over 200 pounds. We knew these were the same cubs from day 1. They were about 4 miles away from where we originally had seen them. They eventually went back into the brush.
We sat about another 4 hours before seeing another bear and I jokingly told my guide "Man, things are really getting slow."
This was a medium sized boar but he looked great to me. Again we stayed and watched hoping he would come past us. Instead, he caught a salmon and jumped into the brush on our side of the stream about 60 yards away. I wanted to try a stalk right away but we decided to wait and see what would happen. We could actually hear him eating and when he was finished we hoped he would jump back in the creek and come our way. After 20 minutes of silence we thought he may have decided to take a nap since it was early afternoon. I decided to try a blind stalk thru the thick cover. The ground is covered in thick moss and without my boots I knew I could be totally silent. My biggest concern was that visibility was only about 20 feet and all the fallen over trees could easily hide a sleeping bear. I started my stalk very slowly and carefully scanned every bit of cover before I moved.
My guide trailed about 20 yards behind me. He told me, if I was charged, immediately go into a ball on the ground and he would get to me ASAP. He said "Whatever you do, do not take a charge standing straight up. Bears know how to quickly take down prey and one swipe of his paw could shatter your spine." I told him he picked a great time to say something like that. Even though I knew the potential danger I honestly was not scared. I did however think of the promise I made to my 4 year old son the night before I left. He was concerned about me hunting grizzlies with the bow and knew I had to get close. He said it was not safe and he didn't want me to go. I promised him I would be OK. I actually thought of this as I was stalking this bear and it motivated me to try and do everything right.
The wind was perfect as I continued the stalk. I was hoping to be able to smell the bear. All I could smell was rotting fish. I knew I should be close so I got up on a log and about 5 yards away was a freshly eaten salmon but no bear. At this point I thought he could have walked off or be sleeping nearby. I decided it was foolish to keep going so I went back to where we started. We sat until dark but never saw another bear.
We decided to try something different tomorrow. The plan for day 4 was to put a small boat into the nearby lake and float to the mouth of our creek. We could then park the boat at the mouth and stalk downstream until we found a good spot. We figured we had stunk up yesterday's spot after sitting there all day and wanted to rest it a few days before going back.
We put the boat in at daybreak and paddled our way down the long narrow lake. I had a moose tag and we were hoping to see one eating by the shore. We paddled about an hour when my guide said the mouth should be just ahead. He then said "Grizzly!"
On the right hand shore about 225 yards away a huge grizzly stepped out of the dense brush. We watched him for a minute and then he stepped into the water and started swimming across the lake. The lake was about 200 yards wide at this point and he was in front of us swimming to the opposite shore. He was not aware of us so my guide said stay low and keep paddling. I couldn't believe this.
When we were about 120 yards from the bear I put down the paddle and knocked an arrow. At 80 yards the bear stepped out on the opposite shore and shook off. He looked huge and I thought I may actually get a shot. At 60 yards I drew my bow. The bear turned and took a few steps toward us and now was head on. He still could not ID us. His head looked huge through my peep sight. I knew he would be gone any second and I also knew a broadside or quartering away shot was the only acceptable shot. I was now drifting quickly toward the bear and finally at 35 yards he turned to bolt and I placed the pin behind the shoulder and released. I hit exactly were I was aiming and the bear ran into the brush. In seconds we drifted to shore and listened. About 30 seconds later we heard a twig snap and a short growl, then silence. We slowly backed away and paddled back into the lake to discuss our plan and the shot.
I told my guide I was not sure about the angle of the bear and he said it looked like he may have been quartering a little towards us. I now doubted my shot. As we paddled back it started to rain. Within an hour it was a downpour. I told my guide I wanted to leave the bear overnight because there would be no good blood-trail and if we go in too soon and push the bear we will never find it.
It was one of the longest nights of my life. The longer I thought about it the further back the shot became and the more the bear quartered towards me. At 2:00 AM I woke again to a torrential downpour. That was it! I was up for the duration.
The next morning we were on the lake at daybreak. We slowly paddled and looked for moose along the way. I had reserved enthusiasm. I knew it would be difficult to track this bear with no blood especially knowing the cover around the lake was so thick. We got back to the spot and discussed our plan. We each had rifles now and this was dead serious. We would walk on in, one in front of the other until we started to loose sight of the other person which was only about 10 feet. If this bear was wounded he would be very hurt and very angry.
We only walked less than 50 yards into the brush and there was my bear, stone dead. To say the least I was thrilled. There was no ground shrinkage and the shot was absolutely perfect. A complete pass thru double lung shot. The bear probably ran in the brush, turned back to see what had happened and fell over dead. That little growl was probably his version of a death moan.
After 24 years of dreaming it was finally a reality.
My equipment: Bowtech Allegiance 70 lb, Easton ACC 360, Steelforce 100 grain My outfitter: Mark Breuher of Bowhunting Safari Consultants helped to arrange this hunt for me with Rocky Mountain Adventures located in British Columbia Canada. http://www.RockyMountainAdventures.net .
If you ever wanted to harvest a grizzly with the bow, I feel this is an excellent fall hunt as long as the salmon are still in the river. My guide Aaron can't wait to get another bowhunter and really wants a traditional archer. He is a longbow hunter himself and a great guide.