4ked Horns first bear.
Well everyone, I got a bear. It wasn't long range by any standard for rifle shooting but I wanted to share it with you anyway.
It all started with a garage sale the weekend before Memorial day. My wife unplugged the freezer in the garage to plug in a calculator and forgot to plug the freezer back in at the end of the day. When she went for some meat a week later she found that all the food, which was mostly meat, had thawed. It had not yet begun to stink but it was unsafe to eat. Several hundred dollars of meat ready to go in the garbage. Then the wife told the neighbor who just happens to be the most active outdoorsman I have ever met. He had the great idea of using the wasted meat to add to his bait area. This would hopefully yield some new meat to make up for the lost meat. She ran the idea by me to see what I thought about it. After thinking it over for about a pico pico second I said "Um, well honey, if you are sure it won't interfere with my plans to help you paint the kids room?" NOT REALLY! I was going for the gun by the time the words "GAME ON!" came out of my mouth. The neighbors probably heard me yelling "I'm gonna kill a bear, I'm gonna kill a bear." As I ran around the house with my hands full of hunting gear getting ready for what was to come.
The hunting spot is near Idaho City, Idaho and about an hour and a half drive from my house. The spot I got the bear at was an additional 900 yard walk from the truck which for me is about a 20 minute walk. We were watching a bait area that was 60 yards (est) from where we were sitting on the ground. We knew the bears were coming in to the spot nightly because they were pounding the bait like they had been sleeping all winter or something and the game camera showed that they were coming in at late afternoon to early morning hours.
The neighbor took a bear below this spot two weeks ago that was about 400 pounds. The cameras showed three bears coming in that were over 200 pounds. I shot one of those bears. It came in on my fifth night sitting on the bait area. I was sitting there this evening (wed night) with my neighbor and his son (10). I was watching the bait and he had a better view of the trail that departed the bait area to the west. Well about 8:25 P.M., after we had been there for about an hour, seeing nothing but birds and squirrels, things got a bit more lively. Curt, my neighbor, perked up and quietly but very quickly said "Big bear, big bear, coming down the trail." as he pulled my shirt to indicate that I should move to in front of where he was sitting. He didn't need to point because I was familliar with this trail and the possibility of the bear coming to the bait from this direction. I was sitting behind a small tree that had fallen over and formed a rainbow shape that was the perfect height to rest my brothers Rem 700 ss in .338 win mag on. I had not brought a range finder but I knew the rifle was sighted in for 100 yards and no shooting lane would exceed that at this spot. I was shooting down hill so my point of aim was going to be dead on at any possible range. No "hold overs" today. Anyway I got into position so I could see more of the area the bear was in and watched the bear for a fleeting moment as he walked straight at me coming down hill a little bit. At one point he looked up and to his left and I could have placed a shot into his right shoulder but I wasn't right with the gun. My butt was in the right place but the gun didn't feel right so I held. The bear lowered his head and Curt said "Not the head." I agreed silently and as the bear stepped to his right he went behind a tree. I took this moment to reposition the gun and my left hand and I took a good deep breath. Showtime. The bear stepped out from behind the tree going toward the bait and again stopped with everything from the back of his ribcage forward exposed. It was a broadside shot quartering slightly toward. The crosshairs fell on what I believed to be his left shoulder. Exhale. Boom. The gun came away from the sight picture and I saw the bear roll to his right side and then roll back to his feet. As I chambered another round Curt whispered "Got 'im!" I watched the bear run toward the bait as I lost sight of him behind the next set of trees. I handed the gun to Curt and he quickly covered the 75 yards in as tactical a manner as I have ever seen any hunter or cop do. Within moments he came back from the brush the bear was headed for with a big grin on his face. I asked "Is he down? and Curt said he was. I asked "Are you sure? Did you see him?" and Curt said "He's dead. I kicked him."
The high fives went all around. Curt then took my rifle back to the truck and returned with the gear to dress out the bear. It was only at this point that I went down to actually see the bear. Since this was my first bear and I was with Curts 10 year old I wasn't going to approach the bear until Curt did. What happened next was as significant mentally as the actual moment of the shot. Curt went down by the head of the bear which was facing away from me as the bear died heading for the brush. I walked up behind the bear and was feeling the fur and the mass of his butt and was also trying to get my footing in the flattened brush when Curt said " Oh my God, look at the size of his head." At that moment he lifted the bears head and turned it so I could see it eye to eye. I honestly had a feeling that I am unable to adequetly describe. I had not yet gripped that the bear was dead and I had not yet gripped that he was going to be such a big animal. I was taken aback and it literally took my breath away. The feeling was only momentary and I think I remember uttering something that poorly reflected that I was just a little freaked out at the magnitude of the animal laying there in the woods.
We later found out in the skinning process that I had shot behind the shoulder about 2 to 3 inches from hitting bone and it seemed that my shot entered at an angle that went under the spine. The exit wound was about a third of the way back from the front of the ribcage and lower still than the entry wound due to the downward angle and 8:00 angle of the bear. Sorry Ian I was going for both shoulders and hit none. Reflecting on the shot I don't remember a surprise break on the trigger pull. I might have pulled the trigger a little to the right in my attempt to make the shot on a stationary bear. Regardless I dumped a 275-300 pound bear with one shot. He went about 20 yards or so and quit. No one had to search the brush for a wounded animal and we were able to skin and quarter the bear by dark:30. Curt had called his other hunting buddy when he brought my gun to the truck and just as we were bracing for the several trips in and out with bear parts the hunting buddy showed up with the huge two wheeled wheelbarrow we were using to haul in bait with earlier that week. This was such a great sight to see and made the hauling a one trip ordeal.
I really have to say a special thanks to Curt for doing so much to help me get this bear. He has been baiting this spot for years to keep the bears coming back. He did most of the skinning and all of the quartering and was prepared to do the majority of the hauling. Not a single word of complaint.
I also would like to thank Ian for his patience and long emails educating me on the propper way to handle bears that we don't want to look for later on. That one shot was taken with confidence and most of you know that confidence is damn near everything.
Pictures are on their way.
GRAVITY. It's not just a good idea. It's the LAW!