Eventually, a bear is spotted miles below us—even below the trail we had hunted the day before. We made a quick decision to go after him and began the descent past the bighorns and the elk. We pass below the birds of prey on our way towards the ridge the bear disappeared over. As we get closer we split up to get different vantages. My two sons and I caught sight of the bear coming up the creek below us and my nephew goes to get my brother--each group approaching from a different side of the draw.
Crawling out on a rock point, we watch the bear continue upstream in our direction until at 200 yards he raises up on his hind legs. Fearing he had spotted or smelled my brother and nephew, we were surprised when he jumped a mule deer doe from the brush in front of him but dinner was faster than he was. Using the top section of my shooting sticks as a prone rest, my Model 700 .300WSM was ready to send the 150 grain TTSX through the bear’s chest when he stopped his pursuit of the deer. My brother yells, “Bear down!” from the other side of the draw. Five packs made the pack out bearable (so to speak) but it was still close to ten o’clock when we arrive at our camp. Mountain House meals and cold creek water never tasted so good.
Neither bear was particularly large but both were trophies in terms of the effort required to get to their country and execute the hunt. The trail out was slick from rain and just as steep as we remembered. We camped on the Oregon side of the river while waiting for the jet boat to arrive the following morning. We slid the row boat over the front windshield of the huge jet boat. A couple of minutes later we slid it back off on the Idaho side of The Snake. With all due respect to the river manager, this was definitely the way to cross the Snake River with a row boat! One jet boat trip back for our packs and bears and we gladly left a large tip for the outfitter. Not nearly as exciting as a row boat—just the way we wanted it!
The muscles have healed. The trophies have been taken care of. It’s been just long enough to cloud my memory and cause me to put in for the tag again. They say marathon runners get addicted to the agony of the race and go back for more. My brain must be getting weaker. The hunt is more than just hardcore. It’s grueling. Why do we do these things to ourselves? Did I mention this hunt is grueling?
Tim Titus has been calling coyotes for 35 years. He lives in the coyote rich country of Southeast Oregon where he and his son spend their winters calling predators and their springs and early summers shooting varmints. Tim owns and operates No Off Season, an on-line predator and varmint hunting store and guiding business. You can check it out at No-Off-Season.com.
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