This is the short version. The longer version with more pics and details is here http://hunting-washington.com/smf/index.php/topic,12924.0.html
The year started out slow with not a bear to be found during the spring permit season. I was always a week behind the sign (timber damage) and I never saw a bear until the spring season was over. So far I have seen 6 this year. I missed one, almost had shots at two and just filled my second tag the other night.
Thursday October 16th 2008.
My friend Michelle was basically ready and all we had to do was load up and head down to the highway. I was hoping to help her find a buck.
I wanted to stop at the little store and pick up some chips and pop, but I spaced out and missed the turn. Oh, well.
Within a few minutes we were heading up into the woods.
Luckily we found that the road was cleared and I was happy to find that no one was parked on the landing of the cut. I really felt that we could find a small buck for Michelle in this spot. We parked just before the landing and slowly walked and glassed our way to the edge. Standing on the landing I proceeded to tell Michelle known distances, trails and the amount of deer seen here in the past. We would talk then glass and then talk some more. Within minutes I spotted and pointed out some recent bear sign. After some more glassing I told Michelle that I felt this was as good a spot as any and that we should prepare to stay here. I was just getting ready to move to my left and find a spot to sit when I thought I saw something black moving about 300 yards away. I said, “I think I see a bear” and I raise my binos. It is a bear standing broadside in the open. Michelle says it looks to be about 150 lbs. We watch it for a minute before I quickly go back to the truck for my range finder. It is over 350 yard in the salal and young fir trees feeding in and out of sight. Earlier I had asked Michelle what she was shooting and how far she was comfortable and we even mentioned a landmark as a doable shot for her. The bear was well beyond that mark. I looked at her and said something about the distance and that I was going to take the shot if it presented itself. We continued watching the bear as it fed along the timber.
I had to move about 10 yards to the right to get a better view, then I had to move back. This happened at least 3 times. The bear then headed into the timber and fed just inside for a long time. It was there so long that I actually pulled out a Rainshadow call and gave one half assed fawn bleat before my head cleared. I didn’t think that calling would do any good in this situation. The bear was actively feeding and may come back out. Besides that we were calling from a landing that every critter in the area is aware of. After a few more minutes it then fed it's way back out into the cut. We had watched the bear for almost ten minutes with no signs of cubs so I felt good in taking a shot if I could.
The bear was moving from my right to my left slightly angling toward me on a trail that would soon take it into some thick reprod and we would never see it again. I finally found a spot that I would be able see the bear as it came down the trail and into a small opening. But the bear never came. I thought it went back into the timber, but Michelle could still see it so I waited. I ranged the opening at 268 yards. Having killed a bear at around 220 yards in September, I knew that I would have to aim a bit high on this one. I felt steady on my Predator Sniper Stix and I prepared to place the crosshairs on the spine when the bear walked into the opening. The bear was feeding on the move and as soon as it would stop to eat, it would move again. This happened twice and by the third time I was in sync. I placed the cross hairs at the top of the bears head thinking that by the time I squeezed the trigger it would take another step and my slug would drop into the shoulder. BOOM!
But as these things often do…the bear did not cooperate.
At the report Michelle asked, “Did you hit it?”
I said, “Yea, I heard it hit.”
Michelle said, “I didn’t see it.”
I felt comfortable with the shot and I heard the impact, but you never know until you get there. I took my daybag and rifle and Michelle was taking both packframes after guiding me to the spot. I went over the side and around some timber before I could angle back to where I last saw it. It was fairly easy walking through the cut and I quickly got to the bush that I though the bear was in front of. No bear. No bear and no blood. Not even a track or torn up patch of earth. I looked back up to where I shot from and realized that there might be a depth perception thing going on. I took a step forward and looked up the trail a few yards and I could see black. I took another step forward and to the right to get a better look. No movement, no breathing. Dead Right There.
Why did I say it didn’t cooperate?
The darn bear never took another step and my 130 grn Win Super X Power Point hit at the base of the neck and took out the trachea and esophagus with a little bruising near the shoulders. No broken neck, no broken bones, nothing. But it dropped on the spot.
While waiting for Michelle I took a couple pictures and called Killbilly to let him know where I was just in case something happened. He congratulated me, asked me where I was and told me he wouldn’t be able to make it out there before we were done. I told him not to worry and that I wasn’t calling for help, only for safety. Still waiting for Michelle… I decided to call my brother just to let him know and when he answers his phone he says, “I am on my way.” Killbilly changed his mind and decided to come out and my brother was coming with him.
Once Michelle showed up she made a comment about how small the bear was and I replied, “about 180 lbs, maybe 180-200 lbs.” She didn’t believe me.
Then we took some pictures.
Michelle said she thought the bear was about 160 lbs. I told her that I had shot lots of bears that dressed out around 150- 160 and that this one was larger. We then started the rug cuts and then I gutted the bear. I was amazed at the weight and hardness of the stomach. It was heavy and solid like a rock. Thinking there might be a fawn or something in there, I cut it opened and was surprised at the amount of berries it had packed in there.
Killbilly and my brother made it down with an extra light and packframe just in time for me to wrap up the front half and fold up the hide. Once we loaded up the packs and daybag we took some pics and were off through the cut in the dark cloudy night.
Again the walking wasn’t bad by western cut standards, but we did have a pretty steep hill to climb at the end.
The bear was a sow with 4.5-inch front pads with a nice hide. Gutted it weighed 150 lbs (+16% for guts would put it near 175 lbs live weight)
I felt bad about ruining Michelle’s deer hunt, but we had a good time. I was very happy that Killbilly and my brother came out to help. Not that we couldn’t have done it ourselves, but it did make the pack out go a lot faster.