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Double Barrel Bear

By Darren Abersold

I knew it was just a matter of time before I was busted. In the last thirty minutes the woods had come alive with tree squirrels. Two of them were in front of me, mere yards away. I was hidden on a small rocky ridge that separated two dry creek beds. Up one of the draws, I was pretty sure, is where the bear I had come to hunt was bedding during the hot of the day. I had seen him twice before, both times somewhere in this drainage. Once while scouting two months ago, and again a week ago. On the second sighting I passed on the shot knowing it was past shooting time, but vowed to return for another crack at him further up the canyon. Now those two little devils were threatening to give me away.

I had waited until the evening thermals were sinking before coming in, and now was the time. The sun sinking to the west had long shaded the draws. If my bear was going to show it would have to be in the next half hour or darkness would once again save my intended quarry. I sat quiet and still, hoping the two chatter boxes would simply pass by. I’m a firm believer that big game listen to the squirrels, chipmunks, and birds to alert them of danger and can tell the difference between mere play talk and the tell tail alerting chirps of a danger signal.

Suddenly, they bolted for the trees. “That’s it.”, I thought. “Within seconds the whole darn drainage will know there is danger near.” Neither sounded off, as I sat down. In fact, the entire woods had fallen completely silent, no squirrels, no birds, no crickets, nothing. That got the adrenaline flowing. A silent woods is a sure sign that danger is near. There was a predator close at hand, and I was pretty sure it wasn’t me that had the woods suddenly silent.

Minutes passed. Then I heard it. At first it sounded just like all the other squirrels I had been hearing rustling the dry leaves, but as it continued down the ridge, it was obvious, this was no squirrel.

I eagerly fingered my rifle. Knowing my shot would be far under seventy-five yards, I had with me arguably the best gun made for the job. In my hands was one of the new Remington side by side rifles in 45/70 Govt. and it was certainly looking like it was about to be put to the ultimate test.

The steady crunch, crunch, crunch of the bear’s progress made it easy to determine where he was going to come into view. The gun was up, safety off. Suddenly, there he was. It seemed as though I should have seen him before this, but he just appeared across the gully about fifty yards away.

I followed him in the scope looking for a clear shot through the brush. Finally he came to a stop, quartering towards me. Perhaps his internal instinct sensed something amiss, or the fickle wind had sent him a slight whiff of my scent, but unfortunately for him, he stopped between two trees that gave me the perfect shot.

My finger tightened around the back trigger and the left barrel of the big gun roared. The impact of the big 405gr. Remington bullet set him back a step. He tried to run further down the ridge, but only made it a few yards before rolling down into the creek bed. The first California black bear, perhaps the first big game animal in California period, to be taken with the new side by side, laid motionless thirty yards away.

I sat there silent for a long while thanking the Lord and relishing in the moment. It had all happened so fast, and like always, I wished there would have been more time to really take in everything before the shot. I was pleased in that I had put the time in to figure this animal out and having taken him cleanly with the big double just made the experience that much more satisfying.

After my wait, I reloaded the fired barrel. Did I need to? No, I knew the bear was done. I also knew I still had the right barrel loaded, but breaking open the action of the big double and hearing the hollow “clink” of the spent case being removed, and the solid “clunk” of the new loaded round sliding solidly into the barrel just seemed like the perfect end to a special experience.

Slowly, I made my way down to the bear stopping at the creek bed shoulder to admire the bruin lying in the dry bed below. I’d killed other bears, but this one seemed to hold a special atmosphere around him. I glanced down at the big gun and thought back over the years of waiting for this very moment.

There were literally years that I thought I would never get the chance to own one of the big doubles, and yet here I was standing over a big bear I just shot with one.

As I examined the bear I found that the bullet had shattered the onside shoulder, penetrated through every life sustaining organ the bear had, and then exited just forward the last rib on the far side. A quick and humane kill to be sure. The big Remington bullet has a reputation for incredible penetration at moderate speeds, and this just further proved that fact. I looked, for a time where the bear had been standing, but could not locate the spent bullet.

As figured, the bear turned out to be a boar. He looked to be around two hundred pounds, perhaps a bit more. Three half mile trips to the truck would make him feel like a ton, but like always, the work is certainly worth the prize. He will be a memory I’ll always remember. Not only for the gratification of knowing I put in the hours to figure this guy out, but also for justifying my decision to buy the Remington side by side.

If you are like me, and have always wanted a double rifle, don’t shy away from this one. It will never stack up to a high dollar double, but it’s functional, just a bunch of fun to shoot, and by golly it’s a side by side big bore double.…If you can find one that is.