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"Anne's Giant Bear"
Written by Barry Gwin

Anne's Giant Bear
My wife, Anne, had only moved to Idaho a year ago. She was always interested in hunting, but coming from Norway, where hunting is dominated by the male sex, she was discouraged to try it. She was now looking forward to her first bear hunt. It was late February and we had been trying to get to the range and practice, but the rainy days had kept us indoors more than we had wanted. Finally, a sunny day allowed us to try out her new .308 Winchester. She shot it like she was born with it, and with a little continued practice, she was ready for the late April opening of Bear Season here in Idaho.

Anne's first hunt allowed us to get out for two days. We were hunting in the Garden Valley area of Idaho, just fifty miles north of Boise. It was a stormy weekend, but we were anxious to see if there were any bears working the grassy ridges. The grass and brush openings were separated by strips of dark timber that stretched from the Payette River up nearly to the tops of the 10,000 foot peaks above us. We walked several miles each day seeing dozens of elk and deer and even one wolf, but the bear population was somehow avoiding us. The rain and hail storms got us soaked every day, but our spirits were high because both of us enjoy just being out on the trail.
We finally found some bear sign and it seemed fresh, but it was late in the day and the bears were bedded down back in the thick timber and brush. Returning to town with sore feet and wet clothes, we vowed to return in two weeks and try again.

The two-week time frame we had planned on for our return had turned into a month because of an unexpected stint in the hospital for Anne. She had somehow gotten an infection that had laid her flat on her back for four days. She was determined to get up and back out to the woods as soon as possible.

Finally, on the last weekend of May, we were able to get back to that canyon we had seen the bear sign. A month absence was a long time to expect a bear to be waiting for us. We left the truck at daylight and started hiking. I had brought my varmint calls thinking I would try to call up a bear. I had heard friends tell me they had good success in northern Idaho using this method. We had slowly hiked about three miles without seeing any sign. We did have some fun watching four young Mule Deer graze on an open hillside. I found a place to set up to call and Anne and I sat down to wait for a response. I called for twenty minutes and we waited for another fifteen minutes without seeing or hearing a thing. It was decided to move farther up the canyon.
We had traveled another half mile and I heard some ravens making quite a racket. I explained to Anne that if you hear crows or ravens making that much noise they are sometimes being chased off a food source by another animal. The ruckus was coming from one of the side canyons, so we decided to investigate.

Anne and I had walked only 150 yards up the side canyon when we started to see bear sign. I was looking at the brushy ridge across the creek that we had paralleled up the canyon. Anne was standing on my right when she quietly exclaimed, "OH, there's a Bear! There's a Bear!" I turned to find a large black bear moving down an old logging road straight at us. He was standing about 75 yards away, but there were some small pine trees between us and the bear. It was a poor chance for a shoot. I told Anne to get down and wait. She went to her knees and we watched the bear start to move forward. He was looking the area over carefully, but still he was moving toward us. Anne held her ground and also held her breath.

Suddenly the bear stopped and his nose came up like a searchlight. I knew we had only seconds now before we were going to be busted and the bear was going to run. The bear was almost totally black and from forty yards away it looked as big as a Volkswagen. It had a large white vee on its chest and I told Anne to aim at the white spot and shoot. Her shot was straight into the shoulder. The bear spun and then charged down hill into the thick brush along the creek. I ran forward to locate the bear in the brush, and when I looked back Anne was only a few yards behind me. The bear was moving slowly through the thick brush, but Anne had a tough time finding it in her scope. Finally, the bear came out into an opening just above the creek and Anne shot him again, behind the shoulder this time. The bear rolled down hill into the creek.

Anne was so excited she didn't know what to say or do. We broke brush and made our way to the bear. It was dead by the time we reached it. He was so big I could not move him out of the creek bottom even with Anne's help. After several hours, and some help from our friends in Garden Valley, we had the bear skinned, boned out and packed out to the truck. It was a long day but Anne's smile still ran from ear to ear. The bear was a good bear for Idaho, green scoring 18 5/8". I am sure that Anne will remember that bear as it strode forward only yards away, and the excitement as the bear came to rest in the tiny creek on her very first hunt in Idaho. Beginners luck? Maybe, but more like determination to try and enjoy the outdoor experience we call hunting.