Short Range Black Bear

Tim Behle

Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2002
McNeal, AZ
Childhood Dreams

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been filled with the dream of someday taking off into the mountains. I wanted to spend a few days camping out and spend all of my time hunting some type of big game. I recently got the chance for my dreams to come true, and my game of choice was Black Bear.

I’ve spent the better part of the last year working on getting a rifle shooting well. If the only shot I got was across the canyon, I didn’t want to have to pass it up. So I read all I could find on shooting long range, then put everything into practice here at home. With the bullet and load I finally settled on, I was ready for a shot out to 800 yards, in a moderate wind.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been spending all of my time finding new access roads into the unit I was to hunt.

For the last month, I’ve been dragging the kids and wife out scouring the mountains for bear sign and food that bears will eat.

The food selection this year is really down, we never got the rains this summer that we so desperately need here in the desert. Juniper berries were few and far between, manzanita was only a little more frequently found. Most of the bear poop I found was thick with Prickly pear fruit, and mixed with a few mesquite beans. So I headed to areas with plenty of prickly pear. Narrowed my search down to a couple of locations, then spent last weekend out walking with the kids and the wife in these areas.

I settled on a beautiful valley with prickly pears growing on the hillsides, large shady trees growing in the wash running down the center and a stock tank with water less than a half a mile away. My scouting had told me that at least two grown bears were spending most of their time in this area.

Thursday night, I took off of work early; the truck was already loaded up with everything but the coolers, so I threw them in and headed out the door. Telling my family not to expect me home until after dark on Sunday night. For the past week, my stomach tore me apart, I was so nervous and excited about my chance to finally get out and make this hunt. I got into my chosen camping area and got things set up with a half an hour of daylight to spare, so I took a little walk and chose a hillside to sit and glass from in the morning.

Friday morning finally came and I was up and ready to go ten minutes before it was light enough to see the ground. There was also an evil breeze blowing that was going to carry my scent from the hill I planned to hunt right over the valley I expected to see bears in. So I made a quick change in plans, and walked a short half a mile to another hillside. Set out my JS512 caller and backed up to a bush. I glassed for a little while, and then hit the start button on the remote.

My Mother would probably tell you that it’s not a bad fault to have. But unfortunately, I have a hard time lying to someone when asked a direct question. Mix that in with some people too lazy to do their own scouting, instead relying on others to find sign and tell them about it, and you end up with a disaster and some real ****ed off feelings.

Three minutes into my tape, I hear a vehicle coming. I stopped the tape and watched another hunter pass right past me hell bent for election. As he fades out of hearing, I can hear hounds making their way over a ridge a mile or more to the East.

The wind had stopped blowing by this time, so I picked up my things and went back to the area I had originally wanted to hunt from. There is a little dim road than runs though the area, that is easy to miss if you are standing in it, so I though I might be safe there.

I got set up and settled in and watched for about 30 minutes when a bear made his way up out of the wash and started working his way along the prickly pears. Nipping at a fruit here and there, sniffing at those not quite ripe. I settled the crosshairs on him, in easy range, just over two hundred yards out. But held my fire, he was still walking in my direction, and better than that, he was heading for the little dim road, that I thought I might be able to drive my truck down.

At 125 yards, he stopped to check out a prickly pear while standing in the road, and my 175 Nosler partition hit him hard just behind the shoulder. He spun and thrashed for a second them fell into the wash just off the edge of the road and all sound stopped.

It was like the World just stopped and time stopped with it. I wanted to wait a full fifteen minutes before getting up and walking to him. I did manage to make it a full five minutes before taking my eyes off of the wash and looking for my brass. Never did find the brass and I couldn’t wait any longer.

I made my way down to the road and over to the edge of the wash and there he lay, not fifty feet from the dim road. Mostly all down hill. I bet people could hear my war whoop in seven zip codes! I went back to camp, took off the hot camo clothes and picked up the truck and ropes.

It took me about an hour using ropes, three sheave block and tackle and a lot of sweat to get him up the hill and into the truck. As I was coiling up the ropes, I could hear some hounds making their way up the far side of the wash, I saw one and called to it. That was a mistake. He came right to me, and then got a nose full of bear in the back of the truck and all of his buddies came to honor his “tree” on the back of my truck. They started following me as I drove back to camp. I saw the dog’s owner come over the ridge when I was a couple of hundred yards from camp. Talked to him for a few minutes and he said his dogs had fought a bear twice on the ground, and it had broke and run up that valley. I was so busy loading my own bear, and that wash is so thick, I never saw or heard a thing.

He gathered up his dogs and pulled them back up the wash hoping to put them back on trail, and I went back to camp and started tearing things back down.

I ended up bringing all of my food back to the house with me. I’m not a Breakfast person and never took the first bite of anything I brought.

I made a stop at the gravel pit to weigh the bear on the way home, 320 Pounds! My three day camping trip may have come up a little short, I was home by 10 AM on my first day, but you can’t beat the fun I had!

And if anyone needs them, I still have 25 rounds of “proven” bear loads sitting here ready to go!






That's a cool story, I'm real happy for ya.
Glad things worked out as planned, are you going to have it mounted?
Take care,
He is destined to become a big rug. I spent the rest of the day skinning him out. I never thought one of those things would be tough to skin, but it was like a 300 pound beaver, and it took a knife cut to get every square inch of hide off of him. I tube skinned him like a big coyote, leaving all toes and claws in place. Then spent today driving him up to a taxidermist in Tucson to have him professionally fleshed and tanned.

I had to slow down and take a couple of naps and let the wife do a lot of the driving today. All of that exercise in the mountains, showed up in sore legs today. She wanted to go to a mall while we were in the city, and I thought my legs were going to collapse before we got out of there.
I think the his thread should be revived as it is bullet brand agnostic and so any brand of bullet can be discussed. People still hunt Black Bears so the thread’s relevance is current. In short, an oldy but goody.