I'm a first time bear hunter and have a concerning situation. Last night, with 20 min. left of legal shooting time I shot a bear I've been after for about two weeks. The shot was broadside facing right, 20 yds from my stand while he was stationary at the bait. I was using a .44 with 240gr. JSP ammo. When I shot he reeled back, then ran past my stand at about 5yds where I got off a second shot but am unsure how good it was. He then started crashing around and huffing just up the hill, then I could hear him faid off in the distance. Since it sounded as though he didn't go down and it was getting dark, I decided to wait till this morning to track him.
I started off with a good and nearly continuious blood trail, after a few hundred yards there wasn't as much blood but still enough to easily follow with the occasional splatter. The blood was dark red and on both sides of his trail, so I think it was a pass through shot. One of the spots he stopped had lots of blood and some with bubbles, about a 1/4 mile later in a thick area he laid down and there was heavy bleeding. From there the blood was much harder to find, about a drop every five feet through much thicker vegetation. He went through an aspen re-gen cut and started towards a swamp. At that point I was finding smears on grass and drops about every 15 feet. That's where he intersected some trails and I lost him. In all it was about a mile from my stand, the blood was dry the entire way except in the heaviest areas of loss.
I've hunted 20 yrs and this would be the first animal I lost, It's really a horrible feeling that It wasn't a quick kill and I've wasted the meat. Is it worth going back to start where I left off, will a wounded bear ever return to a bait? What are your thoughts?