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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well… after hitting the trails hard off and on for almost a month during the archery elk season and having a few fruitless encounters with Mr. Wapiti it was now time to get ready for our general season rifle hunt for Western Oregon Deer. We didn't draw our Eastern Oregon tag and as it turned out there was a good reason. Opening morning I found myself heading into an area that I had never hunted before. I was excited because there would be 3-generations of our family afield that day. I was with my Father-in-law; Steve or (Pops!) as we call him, my Brother-in-law; Steven and my 10-year-old son, Jonathan. It really is the truth that all three of us are named Steven proper and it’s always funny when we all introduce ourselves to someone new or when we get together for family gatherings and such. Fact is my father who passed earlier this year was also named Steven. I know it’s kind of strange, isn’t it? Anyway Pops and Steven had been in this particular area before and had seen a lot of sign and even a few deer so they were hopeful that we could connect on a Black tail buck or two or three.

We were up at 3am and left the house by 4am so we could make the hour long drive to our destination. We arrived to the spot where we would leave the truck behind just about an hour before daylight. We loaded up our gear and headed out into the early morning darkness full of hope and visions of a monster buck. After about a half of a miles walk up the old road we finally split up. Jonathan and I turned and headed south while the Pops and Steven continued east before they too eventually split up. Since this was in fact a new area to me I had no real expectations going into it other then maybe gathering some knowledge for future hunts. Then again there’s always that little thing called luck! It turns out that luck was just what was with us on this day

Now the fun begins...

About 45 minutes after the time we had split up from the others Jonathan and I found ourselves walking up another old logging road which ran along a 5 to 7 year old clear cut. We were able to view most of the hillside above us until we came upon a slight bench that was blocking an area that formed a small saddle and it held a slight draw between the rise of the bench and the main hillside itself. I wanted to take a peek into this little draw so we eased up the embankment and picked our way through walking about 50 feet into some of the heaviest cover I'd seen for a long time. Mostly that’s was because it had been several years since I had hunted the general season on the west side and its rain forest like settings. Anyhow, this is the kind of cover where you don't actually look through it or even over it. Most of the time you have to crouch down and crawl through and along the game trails. These actually look more like tunnels in the shrubs then they do trails though. When you are able stand up, you’re lucky to be able to see 3 to 4 feet in any one direction. Most of this dense cover stood 6 to 8 feet high. We finally crawled into a small opening that was just about 10 feet in diameter. I was able to stand up and view the hillside once again. I could now also see the bottom of the small draw, which was completely covered with more of this extremely thick brush and it also was interweaved with wild blackberry bushes. All of a sudden I noticed a large black figure moving down the main hillside going from our left to right and only about 80 yards out in front of us.

Black Bear! I said to Jonathan who was right behind me. He couldn’t see the bear because the brush was so thick and it was a lot taller than he was. Since I always purchase a Sports Pac from the ODFW I had a Fall Black Bear tag in my pocket and an opportunity out in front of me. I quickly looked over the hillside and picked a spot where I thought I might be able to get a shot through. I finally found a small opening further down the hillside that was about 3 or 4 feet wide. If he continued on the same path he would pass through this opening and it would give me a perfect broadside shot otherwise there would be no other options except to let him walk on by. I continued to watch him move down the hill catching a flash of black fur every once and while and a few seconds later he came through the small opening. I had a clear view of his head, then his shoulder and then… I squeezed off a shot from my Browning A-bolt which is chambered in .270 Winchester. Normally I would be shooting my .300 Winchester Magnum but this was supposed to be a Black tail deer hunt.

As soon as I hit him he spun, then he turned and began to charge directly towards Jonathan and I. He quickly closed the distance to half of the 70 yards that I had shot him at. All I can remember seeing is his large head, his paws and claws coming right for us at a full on blitz. He was bounding over the top of the shrubs and appeared to be locked on to our position. In an instant he disappeared into the thick brush that was separating us. He was less than 35 yards away when I lost sight of him. Although I had immediately cycled another round in the chamber, I didn’t even have time to get off a second shot. Bears are extremely fast when they want to be! Since there was no visibility in any direction other than the one I had just shot in, I shouted to my son "get back to the road!" I thought this is where we may at the very least have a fighting chance should the bear come all the way to us. Once we reached the road and had backed all the way up to the far side of it we no longer heard any sounds or crashing noises coming towards us. All was quiet! The bruin had only charged halfway and then broke off his attack, most likely because he had lost sight of us as well.

After some of the most intense seconds of waiting that I have ever experienced and when I no longer felt that he was going to burst out of the brush I quickly got on the radio and told my father-in-law what had just taken place. I said, “Pops, I just shot a black bear and he charged us” He said “You shot what?”… “A B-E-A-R” I said. “Well… Did you get it?” he asked. “I’m pretty sure I did but I’m not sure where he is right now and I’m thinking he’s pretty mad about the whole thing”. I said. Then I again described to him how the scene had just played out and let him know that I was going to give the bear some time before I would go back in to look for any signs of the hit and to hopefully find him. He told me to check back in after I had a chance to look around to see what we could find. At this point I don’t think Ole’ Pops realized how big this bear was (neither did I) or even how close he had just come to us. We waited about 45 minutes then I decided that we needed to check things out and make sure that it was either hit or a miss. We went in and worked our way back into the little clearing where I had taken the shot. We couldn’t walk directly over to the spot that the bear had come though because of the heavy cover and the dense blackberry bushes that separated the two points. We then made a sweeping circle to our right taking the path of least resistance before we finally reached the point where he had been. I looked around and then I looked some more but I couldn't locate any blood. I checked the ground, the leaves and all the shrubs both top and bottom. There was nothing that would indicate a hit. No blood, No hair, No nothing! I let Pops and Steven, who by this time was now brought up to speed on the situation know that it was probably a miss and that we were going look a little bit more and then resume our deer hunt.

We then followed the path he had gone down and when we reached the wall of shrubs and blackberry bushes we stopped, it was impassable. Suddenly we heard some branches breaking less than 15 yards away and just off to our right side. The bear was now between the road and us. He was close enough that I could now hear him grunting, clicking and breathing heavily. Jonathan was still unaware of the full gravity of the situation that we were now in however I was not. I was honestly scared that this was going to be the end for both of us! We didn't have any visibility, we had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and we now had a wounded bear very close to us in this thick cover. I whispered to Jonathan that we needed to quietly get back to the road again so we could get some distance between the bear and us. We then started to make another sweeping circle back the way we had come in, all the while keeping the bear upwind of us. I wasn’t exactly sure where the bear was at this point but the idea was to get our backs to the road again so we could use it as a retreat area if needed.

The bear seemed to be staying put and as we circled back around I could finally see where in the bushes he was. I couldn't actually see him but I could still hear him breathing and could now see the top of a small tree moving every once and a while. At this point he was just over 20 yards away but still I knew that we were way too close to this potentially lethal animal that had all the chips stacked in his favor. Finally, we were able to get around on him and get the road to our backs again. We were about 50ft off the road itself, almost in the same spot I had originally shot from. More importantly though was the fact that we were now at least 30 to 35 yards away from the bears position. Suddenly everything went silent again. The tree wasn't moving at all and I could no longer hear him breathing, so we waited. I thought for an instant that he may have expired but instinct told me not to go to him. Instinct is a good thing! After about 10 minutes or so I decided to break some small limbs that were on the ground and that had been left over from the cut so many years ago. I threw the first stick towards the small tree that he had been up against. As soon as the stick landed he was up and moving again. I threw another! He instantly went to over to where it landed. Not really running but not really walking either. I continued breaking and throwing sticks in his direction as we moved back towards the old road, covering about 10ft after each throw. Each time I threw a stick he went right towards the sound of it hitting the brush. I couldn’t believe how aggressive he was being towards the sounds in the brush. After throwing several sticks and watching the shrubs and brush move each time he rustled though them we were finally close enough to the old road that we could easily drop down onto it. The last stick I threw was down the road but just inside the shrub line. It was as far as I could throw. He again went right after the sound of that stick landing. We dropped to the old road and backed up to about 30 yards from where the last stick hit the brush. Then we waited.

We continued to watch the tops of the small trees and bushes move with each step that he took as he made his way through the brush. At one point he must have come over a large log which sounded like it was being completely crushed under him. Soon he hit the top edge of the embankment and then started down angling towards us. This was the first time I had seen him again since the original shot when he had charged. It was the very first time that Jonathan actually had seen him and up until this point Jonathan had been remarkably calm. I could now tell that he was getting more excited although he never really seemed to be scared. He was clearly focused on what the bear was doing and watched every movement very intensely. I was in awe of the composure that my 10 year old little boy was showing. It was truly amazing and I had never been more proud of him.

Some of the smaller shrubs prevented us from getting a complete view of the bear as continued down the embankment. When he finally reached the road it was at a point just behind an old dead tree that had partially fallen across it. The tree still had several limbs on it and these branches prevented any shot opportunity. After pausing for just a second the bear slowly began to cross the old road and I could now tell that he had felt the impact of my first shot as he was visibly limping.

He never knew that we were there, watching and waiting. When he cleared the last branch of the fallen tree, I pierced his vitals. At the hit he jumped, then he tumbled and rolled moving only about 15ft down the road before finally coming to a stop and lying down on the road’s shoulder. I held Jonathan back! He was so amazed to see this all happen right in front of him and he really wanted to see the bear up close. When the bear stopped struggling to move I slowly approached him for a final shot. He was still alive when I reached him and I didn’t want to watch him suffer.

After the third and final shot which was less than 5 yards away echoed down through the river valley, the bear took his last breath and was forever resting. Then with a huge sigh of relief from both Jonathan and I all was quiet again. My first shot had hit his shoulder, going completely through and making contact with the heart. The second shot was though both lungs and was very clearly fatal. The final shot was through the brisket and was for as much piece of mind for me as it was to finally end this very wild, exciting and terrifying morning. We took a moment to pause out of respect for the bear. Then after a big hug and a high five, Jonathan got on the radio. “Papa, Steven! Get down here! Get down here quick! We got the bear, we got the bear!” The excitement in his voice was priceless

The time was just after 8am and after the last shot had rang out a real nice fellow that had been walking up the old road himself approached us. He had seen the final two shots and offered us a heart-felt congratulation’s. He went by the name of John (Kind of surprised his name wasn’t Steve). John's family had been contracted by the state of Oregon for many years to assist with the taking of problem bears so he was very knowledgeable about bears in general. He proceeded to help educate me about how to properly field dress a bear, which actually he did while I watched and learned. He then pointed out exactly how to cape and prepare him for a trophy rug mount.

This was my first bear. In fact it was my first big game animal ever harvested. John estimated the large boar to be 12-15 years old, 450 pounds and over 6'5" long. We measured the cape after we returned home and he was actually 6’7” from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. That would put him close to 7-1/2 feet standing. Live weight was approximately 460 pounds. John also stated that the bear might make the Oregon record books, probably not a record breaker but definitely worthy of recording. The green score from the taxidermist actually has him high enough for recognition in the Boone and Crockett Club. Although all of that has been exciting for me to hear, I have never really thought much about that aspect of hunting and after so many years of coming home empty handed I am just thankful to finally have been able to harvest an animal. No matter what size it was. Honestly, it could have been a small forked horn buck and I would be just as proud. For me personally hunting has always been about spending time in the woods with my family and friends. Taking an animal is always a goal but just being in the woods each fall is truly a rewarding experience by itself and now being able to share that with my son. Well, it just doesn’t get any better.

The pack out would take us the rest of the day and into the evening. I now have a greater appreciation of the horror stories that I have heard from friends and family about those long hard packs to retrieve downed game. The entire experience of that day was simply incredible. It was a day that Jonathan and I were charged by a fierce animal and not only lived to tell about it but ultimately we were able take that magnificent bear. These memories will last us a lifetime and they will always be cherished. Jonathan has always enjoyed hearing about old hunting stories whenever we are around a campfire and now he has a pretty darn good one to share.

I let him know that this wasn’t just a bear that I had taken. This was our bear, his and mine, together. It was because of his incredible ability to stay calm in a very intense situation that allowed me to stay focused on the task at hand. If he would have acted any differently that day I hate to think what the outcome could have been.

I thank God for the incredible gift he gave us that day, the Bear for offering itself to us, my son Jonathan for his rock solid nerves (Pretty impressive for a 10 year old), Pops, who introduced me to hunting way too many years ago when I was already 18 years young, My brother Steven, for his dedication and hard work. Finally, a total stranger named John for all the help and information he so readily gave me that day, who wouldn't even accept any form of thank you other than a firm hand shake and a sincere promise that I would do the same thing should I ever find myself coming across someone in need of help in the woods.

I will John, I surely will!
 

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Holy Cow! What an experience and story! :cheers::cheers: 'Can't wait to see some pictures. Thank God it didn't turn into a tragedy for you and your son and that you found, lured-in and dispatched the bruin. Don
 

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Great story, Thats a big black bear. Glad everything worked out. Looking forward to the pictures.
 

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Here are Steven's pictures. 'Struggled a little with getting the sizing correct - - 'hope this works . . . Don





 

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Hey! It worked great! GREAT pictures and, from the "stance" and the bolt position, he didn't fib about his moniker :jester: Don
 

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Wow, really nice bear :bigshock:

Fantastic pics and thats a great story :cheers: :clap:
 

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WOW, Thats a toad!!!!!!!!!!!! Nice bear, I would love to get one of that caliber. thats a heck of a first and will be hard to beat. good job
 

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Nice story! That was interesting that he came after the thrown sticks.

Scuba
 

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great bear, that porker needed a diet! way to put him out of his misery.Surely he would have died by a heartattack soon anyway.
 
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