More Montana Spring Bear Hunting
Travis and I have been getting after it this spring, and if you check in often you’ll see that we may just have put down a bear on film. Anyways it’s been an interesting spring around here. Its felt more like summer than spring at times and it helped those hillsides green up in no time.
After spotting our first two bears of the season it seemed we couldn’t go a day without spotting one. We had started mixing things up and were hunting the mornings hoping to catch them before they went back to the timber. We had went back up to an area that we know holds bears all spring and where we had failed an earlier stalk. Sure enough we round the corner that leads us to an overlook of a whole drainage and bam, bear spotted. We start moving up the logging road, because at this point were about a mile out still. As we get further up the road we stopped to glass again. Just our luck, it was a sow and two cubs. Man those little guys are cute.
We tried to go up and get closer to the sow to get some footage and actually spooked a bear right off the logging road. We didn’t find the sow and cubs and we hunted hard the rest of the day. We knew the area was holding bears, but we thought we’d let things cool down in the area before going back. On Saturday we loaded up the truck and headed to a new area west of town about an hour. We drove way up the mountain and were glassing clear cuts hoping to make out a bear. We’ll the only thing we found was big white truck that had beat us up the mountain that morning. We weren’t sure what he was up to but we knew any bear stupid enough to stay out in the open after this truck drove by was probably already dead. We turned around and went back to the tried and true method of hunting, gate hunting.
Chances are if you find a gate and go in a mile or two your bound to find more game than cruising the dirt roads. Our friend Adam had told us this could be a good area to bike into and glass the clear cuts, and we were more than happy to check it out. We had biked only about ten minutes when we rode up on some extremely fresh scat. We figured we’ll ride the trail another 1/4 mile and if we don’t see him on the logging road we’ll sit down and see if we can call him in with the distress call. Well about twenty minutes go by and we hadn’t seen anything so we took a seat on the edge of the road and I pulled out the trusty distress call. Now I figured if I call in a bear it’s probably gonna be a big one, and to be honest I didn’t think I actually would call a bear in. Well about five minutes in I see a brown head coming up the hill and its only about 40 yards away. A very pretty, chocolate colored black bear was coming in.
So this bear is at thirty yards and what do ya know, my bow is on my back. Good one idiot. So I start trying to size up this bear. I really was shooting for getting one with a bow unless it was a real toad and then I wouldn’t mind slinging some lead. Well this was a mature bear and had a perfect coat on it. To top it off it was in the sun at thirty yards on film. I finally decided I’d use the old thunderstick. Right as I look through the scope to take a shot the bear trots off about sixty yards into some downed trees and bushes. Dang it you idiot Zack! I throw out a few more distress calls hoping it will show up again and offer me a shot. I ask Travis if he can see it and he says he’s pretty sure it’s going to come up on the logging road. I start scrambling to get the bow off the backpack and an arrow nocked. Right as I get my bow off the bear comes out on the logging road looking right at me sitting in the middle of the road. I get an arrow nocked and range him at 52 yards. He’s still there looking at us and acting goofy. I figure he’ll come a little closer and at some point he’ll present a shot. Well right then he turns and starts walking away. A few whistles and he stopped and looked back. I figure he’s at 60 at this point and settle my pin in. I shoot and it slips right over the top of his back and he’s gone. Well that was a rush.
At this point I’m a little bit pissed off. I just had broke numerous rules I set for myself for the year. Number one and the biggest flaw was that I shot at an alert animal past 40-50 yards. Now depending on the animal this can fluctuate with it being the shortest for deer. After watching the footage I could see that old Yogi had dropped a solid foot before my arrow got there. Yes I’m a slow learner and no you won’t see that happen again. I am confident past 60 and just should have know that he wasn’t going to sit there and watch the arrow hit him. Second I rushed the shot. I knew the bear wasn’t going to hang around very long and I shot as my pin was rising up to my spot. I’m almost positive I shot higher than I had intended to because of this. These two factors led to a clean miss which I’m totally ok with. It’s amazing how hunting can go from nothing to an adrenaline fueled frenzy in a matter of moments. Things happen so quick it’s easy to forget the basics. If anyone has any ideas on how to practice for these situations please let me know because I can’t think of too many ways at the moment. Overall, it was an awesome day and one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Be sure to check back as there’s going to be more stories about bears and this time they’re coming home with us.