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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Little Sister’s First Black Bear!

This spring black bear season has been phenomenal.  In the first week of the season my family and hunting buddies put four bears on the ground – three of them being boars squaring 6 feet or more.

Her first Black Bear video

With all this good luck, and our baits are still getting hammered, my little sister Courtney wanted in on the action. So Friday afternoon we pulled the boat down the highway and when we got to the river that leads to our spot things didn’t look good. The wind was really howling, which makes the hunting bears unproductive most of the time. Taking a gamble, we jumped in the jet boat and headed downriver anyway, getting to our blind at about 8:15pm.
The winds looked like they would never let up, swirling and gusting for the next 2 hours or so.  At about 10:30, they gradually started to calm down, and at 11 p.m. we saw black. We call 11 p.m the “witching hour” here in Alaska, because that’s when we kill probably 80 percent of our bears. It’s light enough to shoot up here at that time, so there’s no legal shoot-time like down in the lower 48. Well, there is legal shoot time, I guess, it’s just 24 hours …
At 11 p.m. it seems the bears around here become the most active. The woods has settled down and cooled off.  Anyway, this bear goofed around the bait for 8 or 9 minutes, and I wanted her to wait for an ideal shot. By the time she actually squeezed the trigger, I was so worked up my legs were shaking!
The bear was quartering towards us when I told her to go ahead and shoot, and with the roar of my .25-06, it tore off into the brush.  I knew it was a good shot, so we gave it a few minutes then were pleased to find it less than 40 yards away.  One funny thing about bears is how tough they are. That 117 grain Hornady SST put that bear down fast, but when it was hit, it didn’t even stumble, as you can see in the video. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve heard guys saying you’ve got to have this rifle or that cartridge to kill bears. It’s just not true.  A .243 or .25-06 is plenty of gun for a black bear. Anything hit in the boiler room with a good bullet isn’t going to go far.
I’ve seen a small 150-pound bear hit square in the chest at 10 paces with a 7mm Mag and it didn’t even knock it over.  I saw another shot at 15 yards with a .338 Win Mag, and it ran 30 yards.  Anyhow, this bear was just as dead as any of them, and it was quite a bit bigger than I had though. Courtney couldn’t be happier. The bear ended up squaring 6 feet and weighed more than 200 pounds. I was just as thrilled as my sister and glad I could help her get her first bear.   

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