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Author Topic: My First Spring Bear  (Read 1276 times)

Offline HoytHunter24

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My First Spring Bear
« on: June 30, 2020, 09:47:04 AM »
This year I was drawn for an Eastern Washington Spring Bear tag. In the past, I never really went out hunting for bear. Bear was always an opportunity type of thing while I was deer or elk hunting. A few years back I decided to start gathering points for this hunt so I would have something to do in the spring instead of turkey hunting. When I drew my unit with only a few points I was extremely excited.
I had never hunted or even driven through this unit before. But I chose it because it was right next to the unit I have been deer hunting for a few years now. I figured the terrain would be similar and there would be a good amount of bears.
I already had a weeks vacation scheduled for the second week of turkey season to be in the area. And lucky for me, COVID hit and everything was shut down... However, I still made it over for the week I had planned. This was actually very valuable for me because it gave me time to scout the area and drive some roads to check things out.
The area had an incredible amount of rain and snow this spring. So much so that roads were being washed out and the snow level was continually at 4500' or lower. This threw a wrench in my plans. I had been scouting online and found some really nice areas up above 4500' that I felt would hold bears and be away from road traffic. I read quite a bit about this spring bear hunting thing and everything pointed to finding green grass and open hillsides to sit and watch from sun up to sun down. Well, I don't have the patience for that. I can sit for a few hours but not all day. I am positive that this is the reason I didn't see as many bears as I could have in this hunt.
The season finally opened and I scheduled a few long weekends and then a full week for the final week of season. I tried to watch hillsides. I hiked in to some beautiful areas. I got snowed out of some areas. I was rained out quite frequently. I became discouraged and started to wonder if bears even existed. I didn't see a single bear the first 3 weekends up there. I ran in to a few different tag holders who either filled their tag or had been seeing bears on the regular. Everyone was super helpful and one gentleman even invited me along to see how they were hunting and finding these bears.
Now to my final week. I had two weekends left and a handful of evenings to hunt. I made it over on June 19th. The weather had been improving every day and I knew I could finally get back to my original plan. I wanted to hike up high in to some higher basins and burned areas in search for this illusive bear. I loaded my pack for a two day hike and headed in from a trailhead. I spent Saturday hiking and glassing through some gorgeous country only to find a few mule deer and a ton of bear sign. I found a place to camp for the night and got set up for an evening sit on a big open face. Nothing...
The next morning I packed up my camp and decided to hunt my way out a different route and loop back around to my truck by early afternoon. I started hiking down the trail to get to my next glassing spot when I rounded a corner and came face to face at 20 yards with a nice cinnamon bear walking the trail right to me. We both scared each other and he whirled and was in the brush before I could raise my rifle. I raced to an open ridge line in hopes of catching him coming out the opposite site of the thicket he jumped in to. No luck. But hey, I finally saw a bear! Where I saw this bear was near a 4 way trail junction. I picked my route and headed down the mountain not to see another bear.
At this point I was fine not killing a bear because I finally found one. I also felt good about my approach because I saw a bear in the area my original plan would put me in. I spent the rest of the weekdays watching some hillsides and hiking some closed logging roads. I was finally seeing a ton of bear sign. Scat all over the roads, rocks flipped everywhere, stumps and logs torn apart and tracks in every soft spot I could find. The days were getting warmer and it didn't seem to cool down much in the evenings. I was trying to come up with a good plan for my last weekend. In my mind, it was too hot in the evenings for a bear to be cruising. I had seen the cinnamon bear in the early morning before it warmed up. Putting these two things together, I had a strong feeling I could find these bears out feeding in the early morning hours. I decided to make one final attempt.
Saturday morning (June 27th) I was at the trail head just after sunrise. The same trail where I had seen the cinnamon bear. My plan was to reach the ridge line and look for that cinnamon bear feeding again. I would have the wind in my face and be prepared.
I cruised my way up the trail seeing more sign than before. I spotted a couple nice mule deer bucks and glassed a couple ridges. As I crested the ridge top and met with the trail junction, I chose to drop down in to a back basin with some nice lush hillsides and water running through the drainages. I make it no more than 200 yards down the trail I am still hunting on and hear something rustling in the grass on the downhill side. The wind is in my face so whatever it is can't smell me. I am moving slow so nothing should spook. A pair of black ears and the back of a bear start feeding up the hillside in front of me at about 50 yards. He is moving so I quickly grab my rifle and lift. I mew at him and he stops immediately broadside and looks at me. He isn't spooked. He just stands there at 50 yards and watches me. I flip the safety off on my Savage 270 WSM and squeeze the trigger... I squeeze some more. Nothing. I realize I haven't gone through the full two stage safety these rifles have. I flip it all the way this time and get back on the bear. I can only see his head, upper front shoulder and back line in the tall grass. I am where I want and boom. The bear hits the ground immediately and starts pulling himself down the hill through the grass. I think I spined him. Why else would he drop? I run the bolt and fire another shot as he is pulling himself down the hill. Miss. He is now over the edge where I can no longer see him. I race to a tree to look over the edge. There he is at about 40 yards rolling around in one spot. I fire a third shot. Miss. But he stops moving. I watch and there is no more movement. I drop straight to the ground trying to comprehend what just happened. My plan worked. My patience paid off. My persistence paid off. I just killed my first black bear with only a few days left of season.
I ended up hitting the bear in the high shoulder which took out both of his lungs. This wreaked havoc on one should and part of the backstrap. But he was dead quick. I am now 2 miles in from the trail head and solo. The morning was overcast a cool. There were no bugs and he died in the best smelling flower and grass patch I could ask for. The work began. I skinned and quartered him out. The fresh air and smell of the flowers around me made for an incredible scene and experience. I was alone in my thoughts as I processed the bear. I texted my parents and my wife that I had finally succeeded. They were ecstatic because they knew the effort I had put in to this hunt. A new friend of mine, Dylan (Tracker0271), was at the trail head hiking in in no time at all. I shuffled the meat up the hillside back to the trail where I could wait for Dylan and load our packs. This was my first time actually meeting him in person. He had reached out on this forum and helped me with spots in the area. I cannot thank him enough for lending a hand.
We both loaded up our packs and made one easy trip out of the woods with the bear.

I learned a lot from this entire experience. I definitely realized the hunting style I prefer and to stick with my gut on hunting plans. Perseverance is a real thing and if you keep your nose to the grindstone you WILL succeed.

I apologize for the crappy photos. I was solo and trying to set my phone on my backpack to get some pictures.
Bowhunter
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Offline salt n sage90

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 10:54:58 AM »
Great write up. Congratulations on your success.
"Nothing sinks faster than a downrigger ball"

Offline Fuhrmem

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 11:05:02 AM »
Great write up, and congrats on the beautiful bear!

Offline frazierw

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2020, 11:19:22 AM »
Awesome bear! Congrats!

Online trophyhunt

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2020, 11:58:46 AM »
Great job young man, way to get it done!  Bears are a special kind of hunt, congrats!
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Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2020, 12:14:46 PM »
congrats on a dandy

Online elkrack

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2020, 01:28:14 PM »
Nice bear!  :tup:
life's tough its tougher if your stupid (john wayne)

Offline Platensek-po

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2020, 01:37:54 PM »
Good story even better bear!! Well done!
“Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary.”

If you are not willing to die for freedom then take the word out of your vocabulary.

Offline Katmai Guy

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2020, 03:57:36 PM »
Awesome bear, congrats!  Thanks for the story.
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Offline Tracker0721

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2020, 04:06:43 PM »
Great write up! I’ll bring my good camera when you get that cinnamon in the fall
May my presence go unnoticed, may my shot be true, may the blood trail be short.

Amen

Offline HoytHunter24

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2020, 06:02:30 PM »
Great write up! I’ll bring my good camera when you get that cinnamon in the fall

Haha I think its time for me to photo you sticking that bear!
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Offline wazzu99

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2020, 08:46:37 AM »
Glad it worked out for you, congratulations

Offline Jonathan_S

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2020, 10:06:26 AM »
Great write up! I’ll bring my good camera when you get that cinnamon in the fall

Haha I think its time for me to photo you sticking that bear!

 :yike: whoa
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Offline Bowhunter3

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2020, 06:59:19 AM »
 :tup:

Offline millerwheeler

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Re: My First Spring Bear
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2020, 07:31:15 AM »
Thanks for sharing great job

 


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