Well fellas, I'm quite a bit late on the story, but here it is.....(WARNING--LONG STORY)
2014 Spring Bear hunt in NW Montana. This is an annual week long trip for two guys I work with--its a great escape after winter. No bait or dogs allowed, so it's spot and stalk all the way.
Day four, and we have seen only 3 bears, but none in shooting range, and none worth chasing after. Late in the afternoon, probably 5 or so, we come around the top of a ridge on a logging road. Down the hill, almost 500 yards away, there is a beautiful black bear hanging out in the middle of a logging road in the trees. Dave was on the rear left, I was on his right. This was Dave's first bear hunt, so he basically had first dibs. Dave gets the rifle out, and Justin ranges the bear with the Leica 1600b. I don't remember the range, but it was around 460 uncorrected for the angle. Justin entered the info into his ballistic app, and told Dave how much to dial. (Dave is shooting Justin's custom 7WSM Rem 700/Proof research barrel) Dave gets behind the scope, and starts shaking!! Justin doesn't help by telling him to hurry up, and the bear isn't going to stand still all day. Dave resets, and gets back on the scope. I start trying to calm him down, "focus on your reticle, deep breath, slowly breathe out, press the trigger straight back..." Dave can't calm down!!! (poor guy) Justin finally gets pissed, hands me the rifle, and tells me to shoot him. As I go to get set up, the bear wanders back into the trees.
We set up the spotting scopes, and watch and hope. Justin and Jim go further down hill to get a different angle, and Dave and I hang out at the jeep. After about 45 minutes, Justin is running up the road yelling "get the jeep!" We pack up our trash, and take off. Justin says that he has just spotted either a grizzly bear, or the biggest brown phase black bear he has ever seen! We get down to Jim, and hop out. Waaayyyy down the hill, with the naked eye I could see a brown spot in the green foliage! Through the binos, I could see the back half of this bear, who looked like he was lying down on his belly. Justin gets his 7WSM set up, and ready while I range the bear with my Leica 1600b. I get 875, with a 23 degree down angle. Justin reassures me that he has been shooting at 900 plus, and can make the shot. He calculates the ballistics, and dials the scope. Bear finally gets up, and turns broadside. Justin confirms that it's not a grizzly, says he is going to take him, and.....BOOOM....I can't see anything--no vapor trail, no impact, nothing. Justin says he was low, aims higher, and .....BOOOM.....I see dust at the bears feet, and he doesn't do much, just looks around. Jim says something, Justin says yes and ....BOOOM....Jim's 300RUM goes off. Nothing, no trail, nothing. Justin racks round number 3.......BOOOM.....nothing. BOOOM.....Jim shoots again.......nothing. Justin feeds round #4.......BOOOM.....nothing. BOOOOM......Jim torches off #3, and manages to kill the limb on a pine tree about 700 yards away. Justin is pissed, and tells me to shoot the mother$%@#%^!!!!! Bear is just wandering right to left going uphill towards a logging road, and I get behind the STW. I'm watching him wander uphill without a care in the world, and Justin says he's heading right for a bare patch next to the road. I range the patch at 808, with I believe was a 20 degree down angle corrected to 738. My phone was in the jeep, so I just looked at the 'ol reliable chart taped to the stock. Found 750 yards, and dialed the scope. Bear walks right to the middle of the patch, and stops broadside. I settle the crosshairs on him, and go through my routine.......Nothing.....dammit, forgot the safety!!!!
Get back on the scope......dammit, forgot to chamber a round!!!
Jack a round in, dial the power down, find the bear, dial power back up, settle the crosshairs right behind the shoulder, start my routine.........BOOOM.......I send a 168gr LRX downrange. I lose him in the recoil, and as I'm trying to find him Dave says "You got him, you F*@&$^@ got him!!! I find him in the scope getting to his feet in a pile of dust, he takes two leaps uphill towards the road, and tips over straight backwards! Lands on his back, flops onto his side, does a leg twitch, and is done!!! The other three guys are screaming. I'm excited of course, but I don't want to show too much emotion--I want them to know that it happened exactly the way I planned it!
Dave and I hike down the miserable clear-cut hill and get to the bear about 7:45pm. As soon as I get near the bear, I can see that it isn't anywhere near the biggest black bear Justin's ever seen--He's about four foot long, maybe a 3 1/2 year old bear!! Entrance wound was just behind the front shoulder, and exit was center of the chest, a few inches behind the right front shoulder. We quickly take pics, gut him, and start the pack out. We estimated we were probably 1 mile off of the main road on a locked side road. Boy, were we wrong!!!! Probably 5 miles back to the main road, and it was almost 11pm before we finally meet up with Justin and Jim in the Jeep.