Went up yesterday to my bear hunting spot ('my spot', right,...only killed two bears there) with plans to spend the night and spot a couple of evenings and a morning. Last year, I shot a bear at 445yds the first evening. This year I shot a bear the first evening at 741 yds. Both taken with a Kirby built Allen Precision Shooting 338 Lap Imp in 338AX (BAT HRPIC, 90% carbon fiber Manners T2, 29" Rock Creek barrel, 5.5-22 x 50mm NPR1 NF--weighs 12 lbs. 4 oz.).
It's 3300' vertical up to where I spot from. With 60-65lbs on my back (fairly light with all the lrh gear for 2 nights), up the hill I went. 2700' vert later, I made camp in one of my own TarpTents, a perfect, (I think) shelter for summer/early fall hunts. I saw some red slopes 2 miles distance (low bush alpine huckleberries) and couldn't resist taking a look. 10 minutes later, I'd spotted 2 bears over there, but it was noon and they quickly skeddadled (sp) to the north side of the ridge and out of sight. Good start. At least they're up here. A quick scan of closer slopes revealed nothing. Up the hill, then, to spot.
Moving around a bit on the ridge to spot only revealed one other bear a couple of miles away. At 7pm (shooting hours over at 725p), I was getting a bit concerned as it was 39-40 deg F and blowing 10+ mph. I had every bit of clothing on I had and was just barely warm--so much for summer hunting!
Was the wind consistent enough for shooting, I wondered? This is when the bears show up on the hucks, so keep looking, I thought.
All of a sudden, there's a black thing moving across the far slope into the thick alpine low bush huck patch. That's quite a bit further away than the one I shot last year. No cubs in sight, so I got to work measuring variables as I only had a few minutes before shooting light was over. 741 yards, 1-2 deg down angle, 40 deg F, 24.5 in Hg (as I recall), got the bubble level leveled, wind 3 o'clock averaging about 11 mph)...Plug it all into Exbal and get 12 MOA elevation(or close to that, can't remember) and 2.24 MOA R windage. Dialed, found the right slope for the bipod and rear bag in a comfortable body postion, adjusted parallax, got the scope on the bear and dialed up to 22x--sure gotta like that high of magnification. Got comfortable and touched off the 300g Berger at an Exbal validated trajectory MV of 2976fps. Recovered in time to see the hit (gotta like those APS PK brakes), just a bit further back (R) than what I wanted, but in retrospect, right where I'd been holding--arrghh! I'd held just a bit more R, concerned about the windage. Shouldn't have done that. Still double lunged the bear.
I watched it run about 30yds and drop right at the edge of a cliff in a spot that was going to require some steep work to get there. It looked OK size, not that I care a whole bunch as I'm pretty much a 'get the meat in freezer' kind of hunter--a combination of being willing to go and stay places many aren't willing to go and the lr 'ace in the hole' and looking for places to exploit the 'ace in the hole', produces meet in the freezer regularly for my family.
I decided that, based on where that bear was, I didn't want to go over there, cut it up and pack it out in the dark. So, back to camp 600' down. It was going to freeze tonight, and although I don't like doing that, it was by far the safer choice, especially since I was on a solo backpack hunt in designated wilderness.
I lazed in my sleeping bag until 7ish am until nature could not be ignored anymore, if you know what I mean. Before that, however, I thought let's see if I can spot any bears from my sleeping bag. Unzipped the tent, grabbed the binos and what to do you know...there's a couple of black spots in the huck patch again. 30x on the spotter revealed bears moving around for sure. How often do you get to spot bears from your sleeping bag? So, I finally headed back up from camp and finally got over to the bear with a bit of steep footwork and (thank God for them...) trekking poles. I soon realized this bear had quite a bit more meat on it that than the bear I shot last year, even though the overall size seemed similar. Last years bear, shot a year ago nearly to the day, had inches of fat on it that made it's size similar to this bear. This bear didn't have nearly as much fat and ALOT more meat. Seemed late in the year for so little fat, but the whole summer here is about 6 weeks behind due to a huge amount of late snowfall (the world's record for snowfall in one year is only a few miles away from here--we get lots of snow in the mtns. here and this season a tremendous amount of it came late, resulting in a very late start to summer in the mtns. locally). It looked like the 300g Berger managed to pass between ribs on the way in and out as the exit wound was barely an inch wide. But it must've mangaged to take out both lungs in the process from the looks of where it hit. Note to self: hit bone, preferably high shoulder, in the future. But, dead is dead.
I figured I had about 60 lbs of meat once it was boned out. Now, to get back to camp in one piece. I had at least 80lbs on my back and a few feet of some very steep, treacherous terrain to negociate. One slip...well, it wouldn't be pretty. 300' down and 300' back up and then 600' down to camp. About on hour later, thanking God for safety, I made it back to camp. As I was packing up camp, I spotted 5 more bears, a couple on a slope about 800yds away and 3 about 2 miles away. Geezz...From there, a very steep trail (trails seem like highways after so much time x-country) dropped 2700' vert. to the car. My pack seemed kinda heavy on the way down so I weighed it at home--96 lbs. + 15 lbs. for gun with bipod (13lbs) and a couple of small items I'd already taken out of the pack for 111 lbs. down the hill. At 40, I sometimes wonder how much longer...but I'll do it as long as I can--just need some porters.
Some pics below.
Partly zoomed pic right after the shot looking over to the ridge where the bear was. It's in the pic, just too far away to see in the quickly dimming light.
Pic from bear looking back to ridge shot from.
Pic of bear with Allen Precision Shooting built 338AX.
Shot of exit wound...sorry didn't take one with the hide off.
Bear measure just over 5' tip of nose to base of tail. Is that right? I don't even know how to measure these things. Like I said...meat hunter.
Oh, and last Friday night I shot a 4x4 muley at 580yds on the WA state High Buck hunt on a solo backpack hunt that entailed as much or more work than this hunt. No pics as I shot it right before dark and just had a cell phone with no flash. Small 4x4--a good meat buck.
Gotta got rest those tired bones to get ready for elk!
Hope you guys are getting the freezer packed this fall!