"The Bear Hunt"
It wasn't long before we were enjoying the beautiful and majestic scenery of Idaho, all the while going up in altitude. It was partly cloudy and snow threatened to damper our hunt. We arrived at camp, nestled in a scenic river valley. All the food, tents, firewood, horses, tack and equipment was ready and waiting. We got our gear ready, stowed our sleeping bags and gear, packed our lunch and headed out on horseback. We crossed small rivers many times and made a pass through our outfitters fall deer/elk camp. "I'd definitely like to come here next fall", I thought to myself. We continued to travel the trails, at times encountering snow several feet deep. We were looking for good open trails in case we wanted to hunt with the pack of good-looking hounds we had in camp. Hound hunting is legal only in the last 15 days of Idaho's spring Bear season, and today (May 1st) was opening day. Our search became futile as the snow got deeper and new snow began to fall. I must say, our first day became more like an adventure than hunting, or scouting, I should say. We stayed with it all day and into the night when we returned to camp, completely bushed.
The next morning, we decided to try some "spot and stalk" hunting, because the trails were too snowed in to be viable for releasing the hounds. We took our time and arrived by horseback to our vantage-point overlooking the river valley around 2 pm. We dismounted and had a late lunch as we spotted. We saw three bull elk feeding across the river, then two whitetail deer followed by a beautiful Cinnamon and Black Sow with two cubs. One cub was jet black, while the other was a tawny color. Before sunset, we had seen fourteen different bears, in many colors, but needed to find a way to get to them as they were too far away for a good shot.
The next three days were spent trying several routes and game plans, we were seeing bears, but they continually managed to elude us. Finally, on Saturday, one of the guys in our party, Wayne, from Auburn Town, TN, got his chance and scored on a fine six-foot bear. His 7mm STW did the trick and the large jet-black boar never knew what hit him.
Sunday, our last day to hunt started off hot. Noon found us working the ridges and points. At 1 p.m., our Outfitter who was guiding us that day, suddenly stopped and whispered, "There's a bear!" My friend, Rod, form Smyrna, TN, wanted a nice black bear and there he was! I pulled out my Bushnell 400 and got a reading of 326 yards. At the shot, the hefty boar wheeled and ran up into the timber, where he stood for about 5 seconds, then turned downhill and took two steps before cart wheeling down the point and off the bluff. We went down to the bottom of the ridge and found Rod's bear expired, his 7mm Tikka had done the job well. We took some pictures, dressed the bear and I climbed back up the ridge to continue hunting.
By 6 p.m., hope dwindling, I spotted a large honey tipped Boar coming out of the timber. My 8x Steiner's could tell it was a good bear, even from 1500 yards away. I took off in a jog, as I had plenty of ground to cover if I wanted an opportunity. I slowed to a fast pace at 1000 yards to glass---nothing! "Was the bear gone already," I thought to myself.
I continued a fast walk, regaining my wind. At about 500 yards I stopped to glass again, and after a few anxious moments I found a bear. This bear wasn't honey tipped, it was chocolate. "Had the sun played tricks on me?" I doubted it, but didn't want to temp fate, here was a bear and with a color phase at that. For fifteen minutes I watched as the bear fed on grass, concealed by Huckleberry and mountain Blueberry bushes. All the while I was searching for a good rest, but there were none to be had. I wound up in the sitting position with my elbows on my knees and my left arm slung in my rifle sling. I watched and studied the shot, I knew my rifle was ready, I had checked my zero the first morning in camp, one shot confirmed my long range trajectory, one that I prefer for mountain hunting.
Finally, the bear stepped into the clear and remained motionless just long enough. At the sound of my rifle, the bear lounged forward and ran 30 yards into a small stand of Fir's. To my right, 600 yards away, I spotted the big honey tipped bear that I had first seen. He was running full tilt up the mountain and over the ridge top. I picked up my bino's and glassed intently for any sign of the bear I had shot. Finding no sign of movement, I began to fear that my shot had missed and the bear would come out running as fast at it could go, or walking, thinking there wasn't any danger. I was about to replace the fired round in my M-77 Ruger .280 when I saw movement at the bottom of the stand of Fir's. My Bear was rolling down the hill, expired!
I watched as it rolled all the way to the edge of the bluff where it disappeared. I started down the ridge immediately and within twenty minutes was at the base, looking all over for my bear. There he was, lying against a heavy bush, my beautiful, chocolate bear with a big yellow V on its chest! I couldn't believe I had finally managed to get a color phase bear. We had an incredible journey getting our two bears out that night, but we did it, thanks to the outstanding work of our Outfitter (Chad) and guide (Bud).
We got back to camp that evening, packed our gear, filled out our forms for the Game and Fish Department and headed back to Cor d'lene. Chad met us early the next morning and took us to the Spokane airport. We are home now, safe and sound with great memories and good-looking bears! Our trip was so enjoyable, and the quantity and QUALITY of game so great, we have booked a fall deer & elk hunt as well as another spring bear hunt. I will be going back soon to help set up some gold prospecting camps there (yes, there's gold in them hills..lol) I would be glad to recommend this Outfitter to anyone who wants a big game hunt (elk, deer, whitetails & mulies, bear: color phase & black, and cougar) super trout fishing, camping/photography, gold prospecting or spring bear. Catch me in the MonsterMuleys.com hunting forums and send me an email.
Written by David/grayghost
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