My trip started on August 27th the drive out was scenic and promising, I had my father in law drop me off on the edge of the road where I would start my hike. I did not want to leave my truck unattended for the 7 days I was going to be camping in the woods as vandals were out and about praying on us hunters. This spot I had picked out is deep in the northeast part of Washington and some call it the jungle. The Timber here is very thick, but once you make it to a clearing it’s sparse and very habitable for animals. You get that sense of another world when you up here, no foot traffic by humans, all the trails are cut out by big game. It took 2 trips to haul my gear the spot I would call camp. I had been scouting this area for 3 months, and the big game that is up here is amazing to say the least.
Camp consists of a hanging platform and on top of that a hanging hammock with 4 tree stand climbing posts, basically my camp is 14 feet in the air, the reason for this is because I am by myself in the woods with large big game animals , and I would like to get a decent night’s sleep while out there. Yes I know bears climb trees, but this way I would have a fighting chance with my .45 if it ever came to defending myself.
The first day was all about camp, getting set up, proper storage of food, location of the stream to get fresh water with a micro filter system. By the time I got done, sunset had come and nightfall was sooner then expected being in the cover of the jungle the timber makes low light , even lower because of the trees shading any light coming into the forest floor. I got into my bed and start to read my book, listening to my surroundings and being in complete bliss. The sounds of the forest at night are amazing, that first night I could hardly sleep. It wasn’t because I was scared, I was not scared because I was confident I could defend myself from any large animal that might try to attack. It was because I wanted to go explore in the direction of the sounds I was hearing.
Click image for larger version.
At dawn I made my mountain house, grabbed my scouting pack, and headed off up the mountain. I hiked to the ridge, and glassed for a while, It was very hot this week, temperatures were in the high eight’s and low ninety’s. This made hiking miserable around noon to four pm. I learned that on days two and three the hard way. Scouting using my elk bugle to try and locate anything was not going well, the last four days had not seen or heard any elk. I was beginning to think I’m on the wrong side of the mountain.
Opening day had arrived and it’s going to be a hot one again. I decided to stay under the tree canopy to shield me from the heat.
There are a few trails that cross the mountain side, three of them cross a stream close to me, I figured if an animal was going to get something to drink it would have to come from one of these three trails as the timber really doesn’t lend it self to be the best to travel threw being so thick. Morning time I grunted and deer estrus bleat beat a few times to see if anything would come thew, and nothing was showing. As the hours ticked past, I listened as hard as I could and those DAM squirrels sound like deer steps… I wish I had my BB gun with me, because there was a few squirrels that I would have love to shoot. I am listening and then I hear a large branch break, not like a falling branch, but a stepped on branch. and in these woods its amplified because it’s so quite.
I look in the direction and can only see timber, I stand up though, because I am on the ground if it was an animal I could get into shooting position quicker. What seemed like an eternity was only a few mins, when this beautiful black bear comes down the trail. once I see the bear I quickly move towards the bear and down the mountain to get below him on the trail so I could get a broad side shot, at the moment if i had not moved he would have walked into me head on. but he was far enough away I could move with out being seen. The wind was in my favor, I was down wind and knew this could be my first bear if I keep my shit together. I took my boots off to walk in my socks, the next few mins were critical to get into position and not be seen. I was able to close the distance on the bear, keeping a mindful eye on if it had any cubs following it, I didn’t want to shoot a sow with cubs. After a few mins, the bear stopped on the trail and I was slightly below him but not fully broad side more like forty five degree angle, I think the wind may have swirled up because he put his nose in the air and was sniffing hard, in my direction.
I knocked my arrow, and knelled down slowly. if he jumped over the logs in front of him, I would have had to drawn my pistol, as these logs are less then 20 yards away that’s how close I was able to get to this animal with out being detected. taking a bow shot on a bear at less then 20 yards was something I had not planed for, one because if he was to charge me, I would not have enough time to knock another arrow and because of the unpredictable nature of the situation unfolding I didn’t want to jeopardize my position already either.
The bear sniffed for a few mins and then turned down hill once he did time slowed down for me. I was able to draw focus on my shot execution, placing my pin on that shoulder, but I noticed as he took his first step that when the stride of his step was long enough i could actually shoot under the shoulder blade as that limb was moving forward. on the second step as the limb cam back and went to extension again I released just before full extension I did not see the arrow hit him, I was focused on getting my second arrow knocked, I heard it hit though, you know that sound when a broad head penetrates flesh. being so close to him it was like a mega phone in my ear. I had my second arrow knocked and I was at full draw, the bear ran about fifteen yards up hill and then stopped it was fifteen yards further then my first shot reason I knew this was because I placed him between my thirty yard pin and my forty yard pin, and sent it. it hit him in the middle and he took off running again this time down a valley.
My first bear , what an amazing experience it was to be able to harvest this animal.