The heavy rains of days 4 and 5 of the hunt for the boys from Utah were a bit depressing, but we did make an attempt to hunt the best we could. Nobody really had much for confidence, though, as heavy rains really leads to depressed bear activity from my experience. We only caught fleeting glimpses of a couple of bears on these days.
The weather did clear nicely, though, on the morning of day 6 and we all left the cabin early in the morning with high hopes. Dan and Jeff cruised one of Dan’s favourite areas, while Beau, Mike and myself toured a nearby area along a powerline I liked. I hadn’t hunted too long when Dan called on the radio and said he had let a couple of his dogs go on what appeared to be a good boar track. We quickly closed on their location and followed the progress of the race. Beau, Mike and I got ahead of the bear and the dogs at one spot and could hear them moving towards us. We quickly hiked as close as we could, but the bear must of winded us and took off out of the area at a hastened pace. The pursuit continued for another two hours or so and Dan was able to position himself and Jeff in front of the dogs and bear in some very thick bush. The bear came straight towards them and Jeff got off a shot at very close range. Jeff could only see bits of the bear in the dense brush and hit him a little farther back than he would have liked. Jeff later said to me the bear then locked its eyes on his and came right for him! Jeff only had time to quickly jack another round in the gun and shoot the bear in the forehead at about 15 feet as it came for him! It turned out Beau was close behind the dogs and showed up unexpectedly within a few seconds of Jeff’s second shot. Beau had been following the hounds and bear for close to the last 2 hours and had even got a shot off himself earlier, but his bullet had hit a small tree in the thick cover. Huge, old, battle-scarred bear down and major celebration for all.
We started day 7 much the same as day 6 and Dan’s dogs struck another large boar not far from where they had started the chase on Jeff’s bear the day before. Mike, Jeff and I followed the hounds as best we could, and almost got a shot at the bear where it crossed the road just ahead of us. We kept in contact with Dan and Beau and kept abreast of the dogs on a series of old roads, but the bear was moving faster than normal and kept just ahead of us. At one point we came around a corner and could see the bear start across an opening, but quickly turn back to thick cover when it saw us. It turned out Dan and Beau had also just spotted the bear and we inadvertently screwed up their shot opportunity by showing up at the wrong moment. The bear really kicked it into high gear after that and lead the dogs into a very deep canyon and across a freshet-swollen river. I suspected the chase would not end well at this point as this canyon it not ‘hunter friendly.’ As luck would have it, though, the bear went up the other side of the canyon into some much more benign terrain and the advantage turned back to our favour. Dan and Beau could see the dog’s progress on GPS and quickly drove to a spot on a logging road they hoped the bear would cross. I got to the same spot just in time for the boys to get out and get set up ahead of the bear. The wind was in our favour and the bear emerged out of the thick brush only about 5 yards from Beau and Mike and coming straight at them. They both got shots off and quickly dispatched the large boar without any damage to themselves or the hounds that were literally on its tail. This bear was a bit younger than Jeff’s and a bit smaller in body size but had a huge head and a beautiful hide.
We were all very tired and excited after the outcome of the hunt for Beau’s second bear of the trip, but it was the last day of the hunt and we still wanted to see if we could get a good bear for Mike. Mike has shot a lot of bears over the years and wasn’t too concerned if he got a bear on this trip; he was more interested in getting his friends 2 bears each even if it meant he went home empty-handed. Having said that, we still had a bit of time left and we were there to hunt, so we took off after dinner to see if we could put a spot-and-stalk on a good bear for Mike. I let Mike decide where he wanted to hunt the last evening and he picked a series of beautiful, green meadows and a recent burned area I had showed him on day 2. We pulled into the burn with only about 1 hour of daylight remaining and slowly cruised a couple of roads and glassed as much as we could. Sure enough, I was looking over one beautiful area and could see a bear feeding on clover on an old landing area. We could all see this was a very good bear and we got the truck parked, determined wind direction and made a plan to execute a stalk on the unsuspecting bear. We stalked in to about 200 yards and had a good look at the bear. It was definitely a good boar and Mike wanted to take this bear home with him. Mike’s first shot went wide, but he made his second one count. The hit bear moved down into a steep creek draw, and we had to maneuver above it to get a look at it and Mike had to make a finishing shot. We got up to the bear with only maybe 30 minutes of light left and got the bear set up for a few pictures and a hasty skinning job. The boar was very old with almost all his upper and lower incisors worn flat and missing half of one ear. This was definitely the oldest bear we harvested this spring. It is a great trophy and made even more exciting to harvest it in the last hour of the hunt.
Mike’s boar made it three huge, black boars in 2 days and it looks like all 3 should make the BC Record Book with 19+ inch skulls. An amazing end to a great hunt.