Bryan and I ate a small breakfast and headed back up the mountain. For the first time ever on this trip, I kept up with him during the hike, might have even ran out ahead a couple times now that I think about it.
Bryan and I reached a bluff directly across from where I had shot the bear. We could see the hillside very clearly, but did not see anything which resembled an 8' mountain grizzly. The butterflies were buzzing and the nagging doubt was creeping in. Bryan remained confident, there were a lot of deadfalls and even a big bear could be swallowed up in that brush.
Thankfully we had high pressure overnight and the ground was dry. Any blood sign that was left, was likely to be here this morning. I found the spot where I had shot from (marked with an arrow) and Bryan went to the spot where the bear was standing. He found no blood anywhere.
"This whole thing seems odd to me." I said. I clearly had a low pass through, yet there is no blood and no arrow. We kept looking for clues. For a half hour we looked for anything, hair, blood, anything. I asked Bryan to go back up to my arrow (where I had shot) and switch places with me. I ran down to the shelf and began to question where the bear was standing. I moved back ten yards and as if I had been shot with that arrow, I found it. My arrow, cleanly buried into the ground.
"Bryan, I got the arrow" I said in a downbeat tone. Bryan ran down. The arrow was clean except for a couple of hairs on the broadhead. My entire mood plummeted. And Bryan and I recreated what must have happened:
The Bear had approached when it was dark and when he walked behind the dead branches which were bleached white, he looked like a giant black hole. Due to the steep angle and darkness, I simply picked the wrong spot on the bear. My arrow shaved him behind his armpit, disappearing into his long fur and underneath his body. Everything became crystal clear. That's why there was no hair, no blood, and the bear crashed off immediately upon the shot. There was no doubt that the bear was unscathed, which is far better than the worst case of having a wounded bear, but I was sick. "How could I have blown that shot" I said to Bryan, "I was not nervous, had good form, and my arrow went right where I wanted it go go - I just screwed up and picked the wrong spot."
Bryan and I continued hunting for the rest of that day. He had seen a bear on the opposite hillside and wanted to know if I wanted to go after it. Despite my being down in the mouth I figured, "what the hell, let's go". We climbed up the hillside when suddenly our blue-sky day turned windy, cold and snowy. A white out moved in as we headed up the opposite hillside. Given my mood, I felt like I had 80 pounds in my backpack. We got above tree line when Bryan motioned, grizzly, right up ahead!
I dropped my pack and moved in. The bear appeared out of the bushes and started heading our way. But immediately I recognized him as small. Bryan turned and jokingly said "It's Boo Boo Bear", I laughed. But still wanted to shoot him. He was an adult boar, probably six foot, and he was still a grizzly. But Bryan talked me out of it. We stood there and let the bear nearly walk into us. He ran off woofing for hundreds of yards, it was funny. Then I told Bryan, let's just go back to camp, my heart's not in it today. He understood and we picked our way (through the snow) back to camp.
After dinner, I laid in my sleeping bag and mentally thrashed myself for blowing my one opportunity yesterday. Tomorrow was the last day of the hunt.
|Our grizzly hunt takes place in Northern British Columbia with Bryan Martin of Canadian Mountain Outfitters.|