The weather was beautiful when we awoke this morning. Bryan and I discussed our options, which included going to Koelzer's Mountain, trying the area across the creek from camp (where we had not hunted yet) or heading up the mountain we were camped on. We decided to take it easy (?) and stay on our mountain. We had not been seeing any bears up there but with limited visibility from camp, that didn't mean much. Besides, Bryan could get a good vantage point of the mountain across the creek.
We made it there in record time (about two hours) and began glassing.
Our first couple hours were unproductive, we saw bears on all of the surrounding mountains, including two really big bears across the creek from camp. But nothing on our mountain. Then everything changed. Bryan came running up to my vantage point and said, get your bow, there's a big bear below us some 100 yards. I grabbed my bow and followed him down the trail.
We found the bear, but he looked smallish to me. Bryan too? Then, a 2nd bear appeared that was much larger but lighter in color. It was a very large sow with a two year old cub. The bear was off limits and even if it was a legal bear we had no desire to shoot her. But we did get a bit closer in order to film them together. After thirty minutes, we backed off and continued hunting. We stayed there into the evening. At 7:30 PM, just before we were about to head home, a big boar came out of nowhere - a quarter mile down the back side of the mountain. Bryan put the scope on him and said - he's really really BIG! And despite the fading light, we were confident we could be on him quickly. Especially since the trip was downhill.
We found a landmark, and were there within twenty minutes. The light was fading fast. We had to be careful, yet still move quickly on the bear. I went into the trees first; Bryan right behind me. As we entered the trees, Bryan took his 375 H&H off safety. We had a big bear in here somewhere, but it was getting really dark. I asked him about legal shooting hours in BC - he told me we had twenty minutes.
Bryan and I continued inching our way through the hillside. There was a flat bench below us that was littered with dead falls. As I made my way toward that brush, Bryan made went "pssst" I turned to him, and he was looking straight ahead. The bear was 60 yards away, watching us in the shadows. I froze.
Turning to Bryan I motioned, "what to do?" and Bryan shrugged his shoulders. I turned to Bryan and said, "break a branch." The bear, who was now cautiously feeding, was aware that something was in his little patch. The fact that he did not spook meant one of two possible scenarios. The bear was angry, or the bear was unconcerned. Understanding that big boars are generally inquisitive, sometimes aggressive, our only hope was to break a branch in order to call him. Bryan found a small branch, and snapped it in half.
The bear whipped his head toward us and we could see the hackles up on the back of his neck. This was getting tense. Bryan snapped another branch, then started digging at some blueberry bushes. The bear remained motionless, just staring at me 60 yards away. Then Bryan made a suggestion:
"Walk towards him" - he said.
Uh, come again? I asked.
"Just walk straight at him, make him mad" Bryan said.
"OK, but you be ready with that rifle, I can barely see in this low light" I replied.
I swallowed hard, looked directly into the bear's eye's, and started walking at him. The bear got more tense and watched my every step. "I can't believe I'm doing this" I thought. The bear was 50 yards away, I walked a little closer. Now at 40 yards the bear started to slowly move....at me. It was not the most comfortable situation. This grizzly was enormous, mad, and heading my way. I looked at the surroundings to figure out my shot situation. The bear was now at 30 yards and coming. The only solace I had was that I was standing on a steep bank and the bear was on the flat shelf, twenty yards below me. If that is any solace.
The bear kept coming, and in my mind I said "oh my God, this is actually going to work!" The bear walked behind some dead brush and I drew my bow. His head appeared, followed by his shoulders and his vitals. The Brush was reflecting the ultraviolet light which made the bear appear like a giant black hole against the ground. I was having a tough time picking a spot on his vitals. I looked low, behind the shoulder, and was now at full draw. "Just two more steps." The bear was now dead broadside at 20 yards, I had my spot and released. The white of the arrow seemed to disappear low in the bear, just behind the shoulder. But it was so darned dark that I could not clearly see the arrow. The bear growled, then crashed down the hill woofing and making a racket. After a hundred yards, everything turned quiet.
Bryan ran up to me with the thumbs up sign! You got him! He said. I was pumped, but the situation was far from ideal, it was very dark and I was unsure of my hit. It was exactly where I was looking but the arrow looked like it disappeared in the bear. That would mean a pass through. I stuck an arrow into the spot I was standing, then Bryan and I quietly looked for the arrow and any blood sign. Both of us had Krypton head lamps which cast a blue light on everything. This made finding blood all but impossible, and there was no sign of my arrow. I asked Bryan if he had captured the shot on video so I can reassure myself that it was properly placed, but unfortunately, it was too dark.
Bryan and I headed back to the camp, pretty fast I might add! We were both in good spirits as we hit camp, had dinner and hit the sack early. It really was not necessary to go to bed early, I was wired all night thinking about the shot. While I was confident that the bear was hit perfectly and we'd find him in the AM, I'd been tricked before and have bowhunted enough to have some of those "perfect shots" turn out to be less than perfect. Bryan was more confident than me due to the bear's behavior after the shot. Sometime that night I finally started to fall asleep. But just before I went down, I smiled, "I finally got a grizzly".
|Our grizzly hunt takes place in Northern British Columbia with Bryan Martin of Canadian Mountain Outfitters.|