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Paul's Big Bad Bear

By Paul Askew

Basically, this hunt was a collaboration of guys I met on another deer hunting website. You got to love the Internet and sites like these where good people meet and forge relationships based on a common interest.

I bought a spring bear tag and planned to do a little hunt in Southwest Oregon. Someone posted a “who’s got spring bear tags thread” on the other site and he and I starting talking about hunting together. Well, a couple of weeks ago he calls and wants to hunt on Saturday; which wasn’t a very successful hunt.This past weekend, we decided to hit it again.  However, this time we were accompanied by the man that really made our success possible in the first place, none other than Siuslaw.

Chris, my nephew Jordan, and I arrived at the road closure Saturday afternoon at around 3:00 p.m.  Rick arrived a couple of minutes later. We gathered gear and headed UPHILL a half-mile to the first cut. We did some glassing there aBig Black Bearnd moved on. A mile or so later, we took a spur through a 7 or 8 year old cut and there was big bear scat every where.

We made it to a log landing and glassed the hillsides the best that we could. Off in the distance about ¾ of a mile the way as the crow flies, I located a clear cut that was about 3 or 4 years old which really had our attention. Chris called it off the bat and said we needed to get over there and glass that bottom for the evening hunt.

We deemed it the “eye candy clear cut” and headed that way, though it was 2 miles away via a road. However, the road split just before the cut, so Chris and Rick decided to split off and look for another cut they had seen on the map. Jordan and I continued on to the massive “eye candy clear cut.”

About an hour later, Chris and Rick returned. Rick had friends coming from out of town and left early. Chris and I decided to take different positions in the massive cut in order to cover more area. We settled in and started glassing by about 7:15 p.m. We hadn’t been glassing more than 10 minutes when I looked over and saw Chris quietly jumping around trying to get my attention. I couldn’t tell if Chris was doing jumping jacks or his best Richard Simmons exercise impression, but I knew that he was trying to tell me he saw a bear and I needed to hall butt in his direction.

Jordy and I jumped up and started to run the 400 yards to Chris. After running about 200 yards, I figured I'd better slow down and catch my breath if I was going to be taking a shot. I slowed to a brisk walk. With adrenaline rolling, I approached Chris.  He had just lost sight of the bear, but assured me it was there somewhere.

Chris was set up about 75 yards down from the main road that runs a ridge line. He had ranged the bear at 328. We ranged a ridge that was right above the bear at 180, so that was where I headed. I had already walked 4-plus miles that day on the logging roads, and, did I forget to mention this road is mostly uphill. I could feel my legs burn, but had more important things on my mind; the bear!

I wasn’t looking forward to dropping into the steep canyon bottom, but that is where the bear was, so I dove down into the ridge line. When I got to within about 50 yards of the top of the finger, I slowed my pace so as to not make noise. I crested the fingers ridge and looked, but no bear. I side hilled and then up and over another fingers ridge and looked down into the small but very steep ravine; no bear. I looked back at Chris and threw my hands up.

I decided to sit for a bit and just glass what I could see. After about 15 minutes, Chris was giving me the high sign that he had the bear spotted, but was pointing to the other end of the clear cut. In order to get there, I had to go back uphill about 125 yards to where I could drop off of this finger and down, without killing myself.  This cut was basically a main ridge with several fingers coming off of it, so I had to drop in a small ravine then back up and crest the ridges. It was up-and-down and up-and-down for about 400 yards to where Chris gave me the high sign to start paying attention.

By this time it is around 8:20 p.m. I was glassing what I could see of the opposing side hill and only managed to spot some deer. I was moving slowly and quietly, so the deer let me get within 50 or so yards before noticing me. It was getting late and I really didn’t want to continue downhill but that was the only area left in this cut for me to check.I could see where the finger I was on basically came to an end and dropped off, so I made my way down the 75 or so yards to the end. I was moving slowly and kept looking to my right on the opposing hillside and could not see anything. I got to where the finger made the drop into the creek bottom and decided to step up on a big stump, about 3 feet off of the ground, for a better view.

I was on the stump for probably a full minute looking around. My view was limited, but I could see quite a bit with my naked eye. (Big mistake, always use your glass.) I looked back to my right and saw the bear looking right at me. I had looked right past him at least twice. He was frozen and looking up at me like I was dinner. I did not want to do an off-hand shot with the rifle because I am not the greatest shot and he was big. So, I carefully climbed off the stump, set the rifle down on the stump, and got the bear in my sights.  He filled up the scope. This was happening so fast that adrenaline hadn’t quite caught me yet, which was good.

The bear was quartering to me, but I know my anatomy and at 68 yards I pin-pointed the right shoulder, imagining my exit. I pushed the safety off and did a slow squeeze, so I wouldn’t inhibit the shot. I could see I made the hit, but as usual, I always have doubt until I see the animal dead. The bear took off, favoring his right shoulder. He went up and over the opposing finger into the bottom and then started up the other side, side hilling down. I saw him cover about 20 yards and it looked like he was stumbling good. He disappeared behind some brush.  I then saw a 6’ tree move real radically and did not see the bear again. This cut is fairly open, so I figured he was dead right there. I gave Chris the high sign and it took him and Jordy about 20 minutes to reach me. I had Jordan go to where the bear was standing when I hit it him and I guided Chris to where the bear was. I dropped down, then back up to Jordan.  I marked where I hit the bear with some toilet paper and then proceeded up and over into the next ravine where Chris was.

Chris was looking but was a bit high. I said, "Chris, he should be right below you within 10 yards." Chris looked down and said, “Dude he is right there, he is huge.” I approached and saw a mass of black fur. I threw a stick at the bear but he didn’t move. Chris approached the bear from behind and I kept my gun ready in case he was alive. It was 68 yards to the shot and, as the crow flies, the bear was dead at 110 yards from the shot.  I figured the bear went about 60 or 70 yards total because he went uphill and then back down and up a bit.

We high-fived and I gave Chris a big MAN hug. I was adrenaline drunk and the motor skills were not working the best, but we managed a few decent field photos. Chris and I took turns skinning and boning the meat. We started skinning around 9:15 p.m. and got the bear totally boned & loaded by 1:00 a.m. It took us at least 30 minutes to climb the 400 yards out of the bottom to the road above. Chris “THE BEAST” Dunlap put the ENTIRE hide and head in his Badlands 4500. His pack was at least 85 pounds! I packed about 40 pounds of meat and my rifle while my nephew packed the back straps. We left another 40 pound bag of meat in the bottom. The first mile and a half out was the hardest, it is almost all uphill. After that, it tapered off and had a few up and downs for the next mile and a half. Luckily, the last mile was mostly downhill.

We got to the gate around 3:15 a.m. We washed up, put the meat on ice, put the bear head and hide on a tarp, got in our trucks and went to sleep right there. Chris left around 5:30 a.m.  I awoke to sunshine at 8:45 a.m. and shook the cob webs. I hit Dutch Brothers, McDonalds, and Fred Meyer for some ointment to put on the raw chafed skin just below my crotch.  I returned to the gate by 9:40 a.m.

Jordan and I hiked back in, got the rest of the meat and were back out at 2:00 p.m. We met Rick and showed him the bear as well as thanked him for his assistance on this hunt. Again, if it weren’t for Rick and Chris, I probably would not have a filled spring bear tag. Thanks guys! My nephew Jordan was trooper. For a 12 year old to do this kind of hunt and tell me he had a lot of fun was music to my ears. He packed about 20 pounds of meat and gear on the way out both times.

And yes, that mark on my forehead, I scoped myself on Friday when checking the rifle's sights. LOL.