Year-Long Hunt

Year-Long Hunt

Gianforte, Greg

This nasty old boar must have lived a wild life. His skull was nearly double the size of the 10-year-old sow I had taken a few years before. His head was scarred from numerous fights and one of his large front teeth was broken off. I have trouble even imagining the ruckus created by that fight!

My 13-year- old son, Richard, had missed a chance at a large black bear the previous spring. During that encounter we had come upon a bear feeding on a decomposing winter-kill moose carcass. Unfortunately for us, his head was inside the chest cavity of the moose and we were unable to determine if it was a black bear or a grizzly. (We have both species where we hunt.) We had watched that bear from 75 yards, with adrenaline pumping, for nearly 10 agonizing minutes. Unbelievably, after this time, even with his head inside the stinky carcass, he winded us and took off. Talk about sensitive smell! We finally identified him as a monstrous black bear but were unable to get a shot before he entered the timber about 10 yards from the moose. He was huge. We tracked him but were unable to locate him and never saw him again that season.

Nearly one year later to the day, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, we were back in the same area looking for our large friend. Richard and I were on public land hiking a forest road and glassing the slopes about two hours before sunset. We spotted a bear about 3 miles away feeding actively on a high, open, grassy slope. At that distance we could not tell the bear’s size, but hoped it was the bruiser we had met the year before. Even though there was a 1,000-foot vertical climb involved, we made quick work of getting close. Then we began the final quarter-mile stalk while trying to stay as stealthy as possible. The feeding bear wasn’t where we thought he would be after our stalk. All we got to see that day was bear butt running directly away from us. No shot was attempted.

We were not sure, but we thought it might be him. The area was thick with bear sign and we knew this bear was hanging out in the vicinity as they will often do immediately after emerging from hibernation.

We laid low for a day and returned on Monday evening. We glassed the same slopes, but there was no sign of the bear. Hopeful, we climbed back up to the high slope and began still hunting the small grassy breaks in the timber. About an hour into it we spotted our friend about 100 yards away, feeding in an opening.

Richard crept ahead and attempted to set up for a shot. Unfortunately there were many trees between the opening and us. Every time Richard got set, the bear would move behind a tree. Fortunately the wind was in our favor, but continued movement in the timber would no doubt alert him. On his fourth stalk, Richard managed a shot with his Remington .270 and dropped the bear. While thrashing in the high grass, Richard finished him with a follow-up shot to the neck.

Only then did we realize what we had on our hands. This certainly appeared to be the brute we had met the previous spring. He was enormous, weighing nearly 300 pounds and measuring nearly 7 feet long. Needless to say, my son was excited. It was the end of a great hunt that lasted over a year.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Jul 2004

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