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Thread: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

  1. #1
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    Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Chapter One: It should have ended here

    All started about 30 mins after arriving at camp making my rounds when I spotted a bear while about to walk back up there spur we were camped up. Caught a glimpse of a bear through the brush just where the spur curves. Thermals coming down hard in my direction. I'm only 15 yards away as it is but need to get closer for a shooting lane. I "thought" I had a shooting lane, so I go for the double lung from about 12 yards away. Well, just like some guys shoot the roof of their car, I blasted a stump right in front of the bear. The bear startled a bit and I rushed up thinking I might still have a second chance. Well, I would have if I didn't rush up, because he was back to eating grass until my then loud / fast foot steps approached, then bolted.

    I walked back up to camp to talk to the wife. I'm confident that stump got the bulk of it, but wanted to fetch caddisgirl so we could check for any sign the bear took a piece of it. After about 10 paces walking down the spur to go check it out, we see a huge bear on the side of the little mountain adjacent to us, about 120 yards away. After what just happened, I didn't want anything to do with it, after all, seems there's bears all over the place that aren't spooking despite us being quite noisy, oh and the gun shot too. I just want to go down and have a closer look at the stump and check for any blood with two sets of eyes. After about a half hour of CSI, concluded there was zero chance that bear got anything other than getting startled, more so by me than the gun shot from 12 yards.

    Chapter Two: There should not have been Chapter Two... and it gets bad

    So, we walk back up to camp. Sure enough that other large bear is still across the way and appears to be conspiring to head down to feed. caddisgirl films it a little more and I am trying to resist the temptation. I know we're going to see more bears, I don't particularly want a bear that big and it's going to be dark in less than an hour, and we're all ready pretty darn tired after a long work week. Still, I couldn't stop looking at this bear. Then went half way down the steep slope and turned broadside. Okay I can't take it anymore. We'll tough it out tonight, have this bear all packed up, head out in the morning, grind and relax the rest of the weekend.

    I check with caddisgirl. Should I do it? It's up to you she says.

    I lay down prone in the brush on the top of a little hill while caddisgirl is filming the whole thing. It took a bit of angling to get comfy and a good sight picture. Once I had that, I gently squeeze the trigger... and nothing... dang safety. So, I flick off the safety and repeat this all again. This time it barks. Now, the bear that was half way down this steep slope (more like a cliff) scoots back up to the ridge, hangs a brief right and bolts off to the left.

    Omg this did not just happen. At this point, I am reflecting on the shot and will fully admit my mistake. After struggling with the sight picture and the safety, I was getting more and more eager. I'm certain I jerked the trigger. How bad? I don't know, but this is all going to have to wait until tomorrow.

    Chapter Three: The blood trail that never ends, until it ends

    Woke up (well, "got up" I suppose, hardly slept) to head up there to check for blood. It didn't take too long to find the trail. There was A LOT of blood. I started flagging everything using little bits of shop towel because there was rain in the forecast and it's a good idea anyway. The amount of blood I am seeing, I'm certain I'm going to find a dead bear soon. Even 15 yards into the trail, I'm shocked something can bleed that much and not die. I keep following blood (it's like someone poured an entire cup of blood every 6 - 7 yards, and after 70 yards of "flat" but up and over logs, I'm starting to get worried, because now it really starts to go up hill. Sure enough, the trail goes up. I keep following, bits of shop towel I'm using to flag are getting smaller and smaller... didn't think it would go this far.

    I know this little mountain well and I know what's up ahead. It's going from "steep" to "very steep" with some sketchy parts where a misstep on the moss covered shale could go very bad. I don't take these routes. And this bear just keeps going up stuff I struggle with. I'm not the most athletic guy on the planet, but I'm not shot with a 30-06 and still get tired and need breaks / water heading up this route. If I do find the bear, I am sure as heck not heading down the same way, even without a load, forget it.

    As it keeps going up and up, the blood is starting to be less and less. It went from patches of blood, to the occasional drop. From drops it went to specs, and from specs it went to nothing, just as the little mountain plateaus.

    So now I'm up on this plateau and no direction of where the bear went, let alone logical path of travel. I grid searched for a couple hundred more meters for blood or dead bear, looking down off the ridges, checking every pile of deadfall, rock overhang or anywhere it could have holed up. Nothing.

    Saturday night (another mostly sleepless night, but being exhausted helped get me a few winks) I'm scratching my head wondering if the bear backtracked on it's on trail and then diverted elsewhere. Maybe he's not fatally wounded? Blood on the leaves looked dark, but on the moss it looked light, and the big spills every 6 - 7 yards, I really have no idea where it is bleeding from. At first I thought maybe liver, but bouncing back and forth between that and flesh wound.

    This morning, on the chance he might have double backed his trail, took a different direction and went back down somewhere, I checked a snow run-off drainage that goes through the old growth timber adjacent to the mini-mountain as I have heard liver shot animals will head to water (and once I did hit a bear and found him there) Nothing. And and give me other angles to look up instead of down and see things I couldn't see before. Nothing.

    I was just about to head out and ran into another couple guys. One of them I have been trying to help get a bear and the other from what I understand a fairly seasoned hunter just tagging along but not hunting. I told them what happened and they were both on board with hiking up and checking around as another couple extra sets of eyes. I was so happy for the help. They took time out of their hunt to scurry up there on a hot afternoon into mosquito-tickville. We didn't turn up anything new, but I feel better knowing I didn't miss anything obvious. Big shout outs to some guys I'll just call J and D.

    Chapter Four: Reflection

    If I had more patience to stalk into that first bear for a better / clear shot rather than through brush / stumps, second one wouldn't have happened and the mistakes wouldn't have cascaded. I thought I was long over target panic, but it seems it can still happen if I'm worked up. It's bad enough not being able to "redo" an event, but I'd settle for "undo". Neither are happening. I feel sick. I deserved the tick bites this time. All I can do is hope it wasn't fatal and suffering is minimal and that it's out eating dandelions and grass. Maybe head up next weekend. If I don't see birds having a party, I might feel slightly better.

    Lastly, I would like it if maybe someone could way in on the blood trail. We filmed "almost" everything (caddisgirl was all zoomed in her top notch camera but flinched at the shot, maybe can slow it down to see where it hit) ... filmed the bear several minutes prior to the shot too... and then I filmed a lot of the blood trail... so maybe someone out there might be able to at least suggest to me where it was hit? I'll post of up the footage if anyone thinks they might be able to guess with any level of confidence.
    Last edited by caddisguy; 05-02-2021 at 07:31 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Mistakes happen and we've all made them. All we can do is learn from it. Sounds like you did everything in your power to find the animal.

    Chin up Caddisguy.

  4. #3
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Thanks for being upfront and telling the story. You could have stayed silent and let it slide. It’s a good reminder to listen to that inner voice. My friend had a similar experience last year. We never found blood or bear but it took a hit we think. Totally sucks when it happens but it does, and it happens to all of us. You did what you had to after the shot, which shows what kind of hunter you are. I like your stories, sorry this one don’t have a happy ending but don’t let it stop you doing what you do or telling us great stories we can all learn from.

  5. #4
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Video of some blood trail coming up soon. Just uploading the raw stuff now. I video'd bit of the trail along the markers. Hoping that somebody might be able to recognize the blood pattern (size, distance, color) keeping in mind it's about 12 hours old and had a slight rain mist of rain overnight. Really wish I knew where the hit was... couldn't get a still-frame of the hit since caddisgirl flinched at that shot

  6. #5
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    In my experience in most cases if an animal after being shot heads up hill without reversing direction, it is not fatally injured. If you put a bullet into the lungs, the bear would probably have run down hill before it packed in. As others have stated these things sometime happen. Best advise i can give is to spend more time at the range or on a logging slash practicing your shooting technique. As you have just experienced, when you are in an awkward shooting position, everything changes. Either that or be honest with your self and pass on shots that are beyond your skill level. Good luck and I wish you success in future.

  7. #6
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Treed View Post
    Thanks for being upfront and telling the story. You could have stayed silent and let it slide. It’s a good reminder to listen to that inner voice. My friend had a similar experience last year. We never found blood or bear but it took a hit we think. Totally sucks when it happens but it does, and it happens to all of us. You did what you had to after the shot, which shows what kind of hunter you are. I like your stories, sorry this one don’t have a happy ending but don’t let it stop you doing what you do or telling us great stories we can all learn from.
    x2

    I'm sorry for you and the bear - the fact that you feel shitty shows good character and I respect you for that. ...and really appreciate you sharing this - As a novice hunter I learn from others experiences so although this didn't turn out how we'd all like when it comes to clean kills, you may have saved others a similar fate.

    cheers,
    BR
    forever noob

  8. #7
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Here's a bit of Blair Witch going over the first part of the trail. Any guesses on the hit would be appreciated. I think we can rule out heart or lung given the stamina, perhaps liver/but too (but it REALLY looks like a liver shot on the leaves) This bear wasn't pushed at all for about 10-11 hours and I crept in through moss from a long way away, so I would have heard it if I was pushing it up the next day.

    I am wondering about how the blood goes in 6-7 yard blotches like that, if it's out the mouth or building up and dripping off fir. Bear wasn't phased at all, just shot up the hill like it was startled at the gun shot. I have no idea, but if any smart people have a good theory I would like to hear. A lot of the blotches on the moss seem like foot prints. You can see claws in some. It seems to happen enough I might wager it's not just stepping over blood but the blood is going down the leg.

    Last edited by caddisguy; 05-02-2021 at 08:35 PM.

  9. #8
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    If I had to guess, I would say you grazed a leg or shoulder. Every time the bear puts pressure on that muscle group, a spray of blood exits. It also looked like when he went through the tight stuff in your video, there was blood on the side of a tree. More evidence of a leg wound

  10. #9
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Quote Originally Posted by VLD43 View Post
    If I had to guess, I would say you grazed a leg or shoulder. Every time the bear puts pressure on that muscle group, a spray of blood exits. It also looked like when he went through the tight stuff in your video, there was blood on the side of a tree. More evidence of a leg wound
    Thank you for that. I think that might be the best scenario. I "think" any wound to a limb would have been flesh rather than mechanical (bone, tendon) based on the way it ripped back up the near vertical terrain where the shot was taken. If it is limb and not mechanical, if not a major artery maybe that bear is back to eating up the grass and dandelions while I'm stressing out about it. That's what I want to think anyway.

    If I do see that bear again, it gets a hall pass from me.
    Last edited by caddisguy; 05-02-2021 at 08:58 PM.

  11. #10
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    Re: Terrible weekend. Messed up two shots and lost my bear.

    Oh, man. That’s enough to make me feel better about working the weekend. But, don’t let it get you down too much, you didn’t set out intending to have this result, and even IF that bear died / dies, nothing really goes to waste in nature.

    I am certain you’ll do your best to try to prevent a repeat, and that is all any of us who have been in these situations can do.
    Pretend hunter.

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