Sunday, February 5, 2012

"Have you ever shot one of these things before?"

Couldn't resist an opportunity to reference the great Vince Vaughn. We like to keep things interesting around here and as far as I'm concerned, bear hunting is about as interesting as it gets. Here's a little anecdote from our buddy Jeff detailing his latest conquest. Well done mate!

"I got the chance to skip out of the jungle for the second straight year for the opening of the Pennsylvania bear season. My dad, uncle and I made the trek to north central PA, Ralston to be exact, to a hunting cabin out of cell range and arguably back in time. Bear season started at sun up Saturday November 19th. There were favorable reports of bears frequenting a corn field in the

valley between route 14 and a creek. I was fortunate to be a “watcher” as opposed to being a driver. My dad was also watcher, while my uncle and now myself will forever be drivers. My uncle got his first bear out of this same cornfield 4 years back and we all knew this was our best chance at seeing and harvesting a bear.

We had 25 guys in our hunting party and we left the cabin around 6:15 to head down to the corn field. We divided up the drivers and walkers and ventured out to our positions. We were all in agreement that the closer you are to the corner of the field the better opportunity you will have. My dad stopped at a spot that was a bit off the cornfield edge but if a bear happened to get through it surly would have been his. I stopped next and looked around for the best view of edge of the field. I saw a berm that backed up to the creek. I figured I would have a better angle shot and might be able to see more from that position despite being about 50 or 60 yards from the corn.

The drive started and I could see off in the distance the bright orange vests marching into the corn. They were still 2000 yards away. There was a guy positioned on the corner of the cornfield to my right, my position and his were probably the best for this particular drive. I saw him kneeling down at the start of the drive and kept an eye on him because I couldn’t hear anything with the creek behind me. I was using him as my ears because he would hear anything coming through the corn and probably stand up to get ready. As it were about five minutes into the drive I saw Louis stand up and get ready. My heart started pounding and the adrenaline kicked in. Not two minutes after Louis stood up I saw a doe at a full sprit out of the corn coming in my direction. The drop off behind me was about 20-25 feet down to the creek and the doe didn’t seem to care as she ran within 5 yards of my and jumped into the creek. I actually wanted to see if she had committed suicide but knew that the next few moments the corn could light up with bears.

I started to see the orange vest about 300 yards into the corn and seconds after that I saw what initially looked like a giant black rabbit angling from my right to left out of the corn. My gun was up and off safe but I didn’t have a clear shot at the bear. I was trying to follow through the scope to an open area. Almost simultaneously Louis and I shot and the bear went right down. Now my heart was pounding even more. I kept the scope on the bear and waited. I suppose I learned my lesson with my first deer. With that a second bear appeared in my scope running out of the corn angling from my left to right. I so wanted to follow that bear with the scope and take a shot but stayed on the original bear. Louis took a shot at the second bear and it went right down. With his shot, the original bear jumped up and paused obviously confused. Thankfully I was still right on him with the crosshairs and shot. After the shot he doubled back and ran into the corn the same way he had come out. My dad yells out, “hey get ready there are bears around.” To which I responded, “I know, I’m shooting at them.” I was mildly rattled because I thought I was right on with my second shot. It began to sound like the 4th of July after my dad yelled over and there must have been 15 to 20 shots fired in a two minute period.

Once the shooting stopped I popped two more shells into the chamber and starting down off the berm toward the direction that I had shot. I got to the opening where the bear was standing and there was a considerable amount of blood. I knew I had hit him at that point. Louis was next to his bear so I walked over to congratulate him. As the drivers finished a guy came out of the corn and said, “who ever hit a bear out here I finished it off in the corn about 50 yards in.” I knew that had to be mine. I waited for my dad and Uncle Jim to walk over to my bear. He had gone about 75 yards into the corn and was laying there. I remember seeing the jet black coat of the bear and thinking, “holy shit, that’s mine.”

After some pictures my uncle Jim and I dragged the bear to the edge of the cornfield. Put it this way, I can’t only imagine dragging a 400 lb bear anymore than 5 yards. My bear was 180 pound bruin and we battled to get him to the edge of the corn 40 yards away. We dressed it and then had to wait for Robbie to pull around with his truck. In the meantime I ran back to the berm to count out the yardage of the shot and to find a spent shell. I was successful on both fronts. The shot was roughly 70 yards and I found one of the two shells. The group got four bears including one that was 460 lbs. It was incredible to see how fast the hunt took, 25 minutes, 20 shots and 4 bruins.

We hunted out the rest of the day and saw one other bear. We had Sunday off and went back to the cornfield for a second round on Monday which produced another bruin. Five bruins in all over the 2 days we hunted. The bear was hit three times, once in the back left which was probably the first shot that just put the bear down, then in the left shoulder when I was aiming and then where the guy finished him off. I’m glad I was patient with the bear and stuck with the original one. I decided to get a bear rug made along with the skull. I’m hoping to get the goods back by next bear season."

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