Bear In The Hand, Not Worth Two In The Bush, Part 2

Cheering by bearThe bear was still occupied with its meal, and allowed us a really good look at him. His coat had a dark base, but was silver tipped that seemed to shimmer and reflect the early morning rays, and was exactly the type of bear that Jim was looking for. We had to be careful as we descended the gully, and stopped frequently to make sure we were not under observation. Just when we got to the bottom, out of sight of the bear, it seemed like everything was going great, but then the wind changed. It was only slight, so I hopped that it would not adversely effect our stalk. So we worked our way up the other side. Little by little, we gained ground, straining our necks trying to see where the bear was. But there was nothing. No bear.

Standing in the place where the bear was, we looked around trying to decide what had happened. Then there was a huffing and puffing, and as we turned and looked there he was, tearing off into the brush. We quickly got ready and I whistled. The bear stopped and turned, and that was all the time Jim needed. His rifle blazed and the bear, acting like it was hit, turned around and headed back for the brush, just as my gun roared. He made it to the alders and we could see the trail he was making for himself. He popped out again, and both our rifles came to life, but the bear kept going. This went on for what seemed like forever. The bear would continue moving and we would shoot, but he kept on. Then he headed for the other valley, and before I could run to cut him off, he was gone.

I was out of breathe when I made it to where he last was, and caught a glimpse of moving brush, so I dropped my pack and kept after him, staying high, to try and get another shot at him. Completely exhausted I finally sat down trying to listen for movement, but there was none. Jim had arrived at my pack, a quarter mile back, so I regrettably walked back to him. Once there we sat and discussed what had happened, and thinking about what to do next. It was hard to tell exactly where the bear was hit, but it was a good hit, and we could hear him breathing hard when he was running back and forth. We only had to walk a few yards and found the blood trail. It was sparse but the bubbles confirmed to us that it was a good shot.

We began to work our way along the blood trail, which took both of us together to keep on track. The red tundra of fall made it difficult to find at times, but once we hit the alders, it was more obvious. It seemed as though we would be finding the bear any minute, with such a good blood trail. But minutes turned into an hour, as we began to cover an extensive amount of ground. Jim began to wonder if we would find this bear after all, but I tried to keep things positive, and just kept on moving ahead through the alders. I checked on my GPS, and we had traveled half a mile, and kept going. But then it happened, we just looked up and there was the ball of fur. I did not know what to think when it got up, except to put it back down. But when my gun went click, panic decided to take its place.

I yelled at Jim, “shoot the bear” while I struggled to figure out what was wrong with my gun. But as I was backing up, Jim was behind the branch that I was up against. So he was getting pushed back as well. The bear had turned towards us by now, and I was just about to yell again, but Jim’s gun did first. Consequently my ear just happened to be within muzzle blast, and got the brunt end of it. Thankfully the bear was back on the ground, but moaning and moving. So, covering my ear this time, I ordered him to fire again. He did, and the bear was silent. Even though the bear was obviously wounded, I am sure he could have covered that 3 yards in very short order. Once again we began to get excited, but only after we knew the bear was dead. It ended up being an old sow, which did not dampen our excitement at all. We had to go back and retrieve our gear, and it took most of the day to complete all the necessary work, but we were so happy to be successful, and we had an amazing story to go along with it.

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Our long-stalk and even longer blood trail had paid off. Although it took a while for my ear to recover, I guess it’s the price I had to pay to be alive. It’s hard to say what would have happened, but I am glad that Jim did not wait to find out. So now we have a bear in the hand and none in the bush.

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