Since my bear hunt on the Reservation last year, my thoughts have been on bear hunting. I have had a rifle fixed up by my gunsmith, I bought a pass to access timber company land and I have set trail cameras (lots of elk). We have spent at least a day every week for about 3 months in here trying to find a spot to hunt. Cody and I have found a couple of bears to hunt and then like most years here in Washington the timber companies lock access to their land due to fire danger. Now what is a guy to do? Hunting season opens in a few days.
Saturday we spent time verifying our zero on our rifles. With that done, we are now talking about where to head. Look over the map and get a plan set. The evening before season we will take a drive and scout out this area. Thank goodness Cody has hunted around here before. My pack is filled, bullets ready, Binos out, rangefinder’s battery changed, shooting sticks with gun, Seat pad attached to pack and of course the mind set to hunt hard.
Now if I can get Wednesday to come and work to be finish. I really want to get out and check this new area out, find a bear and find a spot to glass all day to find him again. Hope that the masses have other plans and will not disrupt ours to harvest a couple of bears. I know, I know….it’s about the hunt, not the harvest. Is it Wednesday?
Wednesday is here and work is over for the weekend. Off to the woods Cody and I go. We look over the places that we have in mind to find a burin. We look over a couple of other spots. Then at dusk we set up with a spotting scope and start looking for a shooter. Nothing, not even a deer or an elk can we find. While driving out we pick a clear cut that had a few stumps tore up by bears, to stage up in the morning.
Thursday morning came way too early; I don’t get up for work this early. Wait it is work. Drive in was dark and full of bunnies. There were no other vehicles in sight and we thought this would be a great sign. Parked the truck back a ways from the clear cut, gather our stuff, shut doors very lightly and start the walk to the clear cut. Each of us picked an end to cover and plan on sitting for a few hours. With all the hoping, glassing the same area over and over, re adjusting ourselves, looking at the same black spot again and again, then the SUV drove up on the landing and we knew this stand was done. Back at the truck we stuff our things in and get a drink. Plan now is to run and check some other areas that we missed on the scouting trip. Found some great area and did lot more glassing, found a nice hillside to sit and watch for a while. Okay while Cody took a nap. We did a quiet a bit of driving looking for places to hunt. We even found ourselves looking though the scopes at a mountain goat (now that was awesome). We also ended up on the other side of the mountains (east side), which I never have driven that way.
Friday was about the same, the drive in produced less bunnies and a calf that escorted us down the road for about a ½ mile or so. When the sun came up the hunters came out everywhere. Not really, just on the roads. The place that Cody took a nap was where we are headed. It has what we are looking for, just guess the bears didn’t think so. We watched this cut for a couple of hours. We glassed and glassed more clear cuts with no end. This time we did spot some elk and deer. No we are heading to another area to see if that is any more productive. All we did is run into gated roads and big timber. Tomorrow they open up the timber lands we have a permit to get into…….maybe that is a sign our luck is changing.
Saturday, our area is being opened at 5am and I’m headed there in hopes to be the first in there to shoot a bear. Cody had to drop his daughter off at the airport so she can head back to college. At the gate by 5am and off to find a spot we found last week or so. Of course, I can’t find the spot, getting a little chapped and it is getting light. I drove down roads that took me nowhere I wanted to be. I was now running out of time and need to get settled on a cut to watch. I run down to another spot that we caught a couple bears on the trail cameras. Hike in and wait, wait, glass, glass, wait, glass, wait and you get the point. Not a thing to look at, except the deer I bumped out of her bed. So now back to truck to find that clear cut I wanted to be in. Well, I never found it and never found a bear.
Sunday comes and Cody and I are back at it. We decided to go to a big canyon and do that thing called spot and stalk. Let’s just say we did a lot of spotting of stumps and black spots, just not a bear. We head down to a couple more areas we found, same outcome there. He did show me the way to that clear cut I was looking for on Saturday, I wasn’t even close. This trip into the area found us looking at more cuts that we had not seen. We found ourselves on a steep ridge that over looked a canyon that we had some trail cameras in. That’s when we heard the only gunshot for these days of hunting. Still we can’t seem to manage to find a spot that has a lot of sign in it.
Not sure where all the bears have gone? We have put in our time and was pretty hyped that there was going to be at least one bear down this trip. Well, that is hunting. I have to say I can’t shoot a bear sitting on the couch and I did give it a go. But I enjoyed seeing the elk, deer, the mountain goat and coyotes. I have to say here that I learned something also; Hummingbirds are in the mountains and there were lots of them. This hunting isn’t over and I will be back at it as much as possible.
We have been back out about every other weekend up till about September. We have glassed every possible clear cut that we could find. We hiked into every canyon with no results. The elk and deer seemed to have disappeared. We went back and pulled out our trail cameras before all the elk hunters got in there. We gave it our best try, we spent a lot of time glassing and hiking to find a bear without any luck. The places we found that had sign came up empty. Since then we have decided not to go back and buy a land permit for this area. We are going to try our hand other places.
Remember, it is about the hunt. Not the killing of a bear. It’s great to be out trying to find a worthy opponent in his living room. Seeing the new country I have never seen. Be responsible and ethical out there. Teach other hunters through example. By the way, My new rifle is still waiting for its first harvest.