I punched my first Montana bear tag Friday after about three weeks of hunting the bruins pretty hard. School wrapped up for me on Tuesday, so on Wednesday I headed to an area I heard was good to see if I couldn't locate a bear, given 2 1/2 days to focus on the task. I had to be back in town Saturday for a friends wedding.
The first day and a half was spent walking gated logging roads around the area, and glassing open areas up various drainages. I was able to find grass in these areas, but relatively little sign, and no sightings. On my last day, a bit discouraged, I glassed the rest of the valley from a high point near where I was camped, looking for spots to hunt. Found an area I really liked, and headed that way to check it out. The rest of the morning and most of the afternoon was spent wandering the outskirts of the area. It indeed looked good, and there was a lot of sign.
After wandering for a while, I bumped into a mature brown phase sow around 7:00, on the edge of a meadow. After deciding to take her, I quickly fired two shots from a kneeling position. I didn't account for how thick the coat would be, and the two shots ended up a bit low, though both still hit the chest cavity, and one broke a leg. After taking stock of the situation, and giving myself a minute to grow some courage, I followed the trail into the brush. After about 50 yards, I caught the heavily bleeding bruin, and was able to slip a third behind its shoulder, resulting in lights out.
My pack was still in the truck, with my camera and other goodies, which was over a mile of swamp and timber away. By the time I got back to the bear, it was too dark for the camera to focus, so none of my pictures are as sharp as I'd like. After much work, I finally got the bear in the truck by 1:30 (am), and then drove back to town, arriving at 7:00. Caught a few hours of sleep, skinned it out and quartered it so it would fit in the fridge, and still made the wedding. I was/am stoked, thanks for letting me share.