This year's bear season has been an incredible experience for both myself and my two sons. Opening day I scored a nice sow that dressed 155lbs at the butcher's and three days later my youngest who is 17 scored a nice young boar that went about 100lbs. Both were taken by canoe access and the boar was the first for my youngest son. I could tell that his older brother (who is 23 years old) was envious as he has been trying hard and up until yesterday was still on the hunt for his first bear. Well yesterday he scored - once again using the canoe for access.
I dropped him off by canoe at the bait site on Saturday morning about 30 minutes before legal and told him I'd be back at 10 am to pick him up for lunch. I don't like to leave a canoe on shore as it may draw attention and/or unwanted curious people who may interrupt the hunt. The result is we tandem paddle in than I solo out and back in to pick up for the tandem out.
The view down the shooting lane to the bait:
Shooting position (visible at the end of the lane) is on the ground under a large pine tree and behind a large boulder that doubles as cover and a shooting rest:
The morning passed uneventfully and after lunch I dropped him back off at the bait at about 3pm. The plan was to pick up at 725pm (2 minutes before the end of legal). I paddled back out and than got in my truck and headed to the end of my driveway to do some pruning. The driveway is 1 mile long and combined with the canoe in is almost 2 miles as the crow flies from the bait site. I had just started pruning when at about 415 pm I heard a shot that sounded distant and coming from the direction of the bait. About 30 or 40 seconds later the phone rings and my son is excitedly stating he shot at a bear and that it was definitely larger than Tom's (his brother). I told him to stay put and that I would be there as fast as possible. I asked if he heard a moan or crashing and his response was no. I figured well they don't always moan so probably everthing is fine.
I arrived at about 5pm and we inspected the bait and noted good blood on the barrel. We quickly searched in a 20 yard radius hoping the bear went down close. The search turned up nothing. At this point I said we need to start at the barrel and stay on the blood as it is the only thing that is conclusive. We found two or three drops about 10 yards from the barrel and another 2 drops another 10 or 12 yards from this. We took our blaze hats and put them on the drop locations to extrapolate direction and moved forward. From this point we found one or two drops every 10 or 12 yards. Each time we found blood we moved the furthest hat to the newest position and kept moving forward. It took 90 minutes and we ended up blood tracking just over 400 yards before we found the bear who had crawled under a blow-down. We literally tracked to within 3 feet before we finally saw him.
This is how we discovered him:
Inspection of the bear showed that on the quartering away shot my son aimed too far forward and only hit one lung - hence the protracted run by the bear.
After we located him we bushwhacked to the lake cutting trail with our machetes as necessary to facilitate the drag to the water's edge. We than proceeded to drag him to the water's edge. I than headed back to were the canoe was landed and paddled over to the new pickup spot. It was fairly thick and tricky getting him loaded but somehow we both managed to stay dry.
The water's edge loading zone for the bear:
The loaded bear (for reference the canoe is 18 feet long):
The happy hunter back at the dock:
The easy to follow blood trail (wife's not too happy about this one):
The canoe that looks like like it hosted a murder:
The bear dressed 181lbs at the butcher's - so probably about 220lbs live. The coolest part are the markings on its chest:
We are getting a 3/4 mount done so that we can highlight the chest markings.