IDAHO SPRING BEAR HUNT

Help Support Ruger Forum:

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Today is the first day back from our annual spring bear hunt here in Idaho, as always my wonderful wife (happy mothers day to all) 3 of our 4 son's & 3 of the grandsons were along for the hunt. We had a magnificent time!!
We saw much wildlife, lots of bears, deer, elk, turkeys, rabbits, quail & coyotes. We didn't see any wolves on this trip but did see their tracks in the mud. Few states have the variety of both big & small game as Idaho, although Montana & Wyoming are very similar. My second home, Texas, is also a game rich state with much variety.
I often chuckle when I read where someone is the first to do this or that in the hunting world, in this case I'll have to chuckle at myself as their were many firsts on this hunt. It was a first as far as how many bears were seen in 7 days, it was a first as far as how many bears we shot in 7 days & there was one other first that I'll relate to later.
Because of the number of bears spotted the 3 grandsons got a lifetime of experience on one hunt, they were totally facinated when they watched a momma bear with twin cubs (very common) feeding in a grassy meadow & then suddenly a large boar appears & the mother sends the cubs up a tree, she then humps up & charges the boar, he doesn't want a fight with a mad sow & retreats to the safety of the heavy cover, she retrieves her cubs & they take off. They saw two bears raise up on their hind legs & playfully fight. They set & watched numerous bears for hours as they fed in their natural habitat, taking it all in as only 3 young boys can do.
After a long drive we got the 5th wheel set up & with only 1 hour of hunting light left the son's & grandson's wanted to go look around, I decided to stay in camp & help my wife get the T bone steaks ready for supper, my wife is a fabulous cook & the guys had gourmet meals everynight along with homemade pies, cakes, rolls, strawberry shortcake, etc. The boys, although long gone from the nest will not go hunting without their mother!
When it got to 10pm & no boys yets their mother started to worry, I told her if they weren't back by now they had a bear down. She decided to go to bed & at 11 pm I put the steaks on, 20 minutes later they showed up & Travis had killed a great bear. First #1, they had seen 10 bears in 45 minutes, 6 at the same time! After a short stalk & a great shot he had the bear down, it turned out to be the second largest bear we've ever taken.
I found this wonderful bear paradise a few years ago & although its a 2 bear area we've never tried to take that many bears, one each is enough, we want to save some for the grandsons.
Second #1 was the total number of bears (59) in one week, although I'm sure several times we had seen the same bears before so the total is probably more like 30-35. This wonderful mountain is about 2 miles long with many canyons, pine pockets, grassy meadows with scattered bushy draws in between & plenty of fresh water running down almost every draw, its as fine a place to bear hunt as I've found in over 40 years of hunting them.
If you've ever hunted bears you know they never stop moving, its a constant challenge to locate one & hope he's still there when you make the stalk. Many times we spot bears from over a mile away with mybe 2-3 hours of walking involved to reach them, if you could see this rugged country you would know what I mean.
In all the years I've hunted bears I don't think we've ever lost so much time to bad weather, bear hunting is totally dependent on weather & here in the Rocky Mountains spring weather will change rapidly from sunny to rain, wind, sleet, snow & back to sunny in the course of several hours, you have to be prepared to meet mother nature head on & keep hunting.
We had lots of wind rain & snow, it beat us down almost everyday, in the entire week we had 2 marginal days & one good day, on the first marginal day we killed one bear, on the one good day we killed 2 bears & missed a 3rd one. We were holding out for big bears, all of us have taken numerous bears so shooting the small ones has been a thing of the past for a long time.
One day I had to drive 60 miles each way to find a battery for my 4 wheeler, its a long way between towns in central Idaho, I took the 3 grandsons along planning to show them the old store at Shoup but decided it would take too long to drive ove there, the boys still seen some of the most beautiful country in America.
This is bear #1, he's probably going to square 7 feet, thats a mighty big black bear, our biggest went 7' 9" two years ago. Travis shot him with a custom 30/06 at 75 yds. Travis is 6' 2" & weighs 240 lbs, this is a great bear.

100_2339.jpg


Me & Travis skinning his bear, I'm breaking in my new Bill Snow knife (thanks guys!) its much easier to skin one on the tailgate than on the ground, we also have skinned them right on top of the 4 wheelers.

100_2344.jpg


A large pile of bear crap. On the 3 day I worked in on a nice mature bear & when I got into heavy cover I probably spotted 25 piles of bear hooey, this bear had been living there for quite a while! My oldest son was signaling me in from 1200 yds away while he watched the show unfold through the spotting scope, when I got within 75 yds I was hung up in very heavy cover, the bear was feeding out in the open. Bears have hearing as good as a deer, a nose thats better than a bloodhound & eyes about like a humans, their eyes always reminded me of a snapping turtles eyes, kind of haunting!
I couldn't see the bear, the cover was so thick I just set down, hoping he would feed into an open spot where I could whack him with my Alan Harton 480. After several minutes I decided I had to do something, it was getting late, I could either try to call him in or try to sneak closer in the heavy cover. I really didn't want to call him in close in the heavy cover, I'm not very good at the River Dance without a lot of room.
As I started easing down throug the heavy cover my son told me later that the bear heard something, he started peering down into the thick cover & then stood up on his hind legs for a better look. I don't think he ever saw or smelled me but he heard something he didn't like & took off running.

100_2346.jpg


On day six I had one of the grandsons with me & we watched several bears off in the distance, as the sun started to go down we started climbing back up the mountain to the 4 wheeler, on one of our many rest breaks Ridge spotted a bear down by the stream, when I started glassing I could see it was 2 bears, a large chocolate phase bear & a smaller blonde colored one. In all my life I've only seen one other blonde bear, before the week was out I would see 3!
I gave Ridge my Swarovski's & told him to watch them & if he heard me shoot to circle the mountain on the 4 wheeler & drop down into the canyon. With my trusty walking stick in hand ( a real life saver in the mountains) I took off. When I reached the bottom it was getting late, the bears were working their way down into some heavy cover, I was doing the same. The ground was soft & the walking was quiet, when I got onto a good game trail I set down & waited.
After a few minutes I could see both bears, the big chocolate was the one I wanted, I couldn't get a reading with the rangefinder because of the heavy brush but there was a pine tree just off his nose, it was 41 yds, I waited for an opening, the big bear moved along & the smaller blonde moved into a clear spot but I didn't want to shoot it, blonde bears are usually young sows, this bear was legal but I didn't want to shoot a small one. Within the next few minutes I had the gun on the big chocolate 2-3 times but it was getting so dark I couldn't see the front sight & had to pass.
Anytime I get in close on any animal I always cock the hammer & stick my left thumb in between the hammer & frame & carry the gun in my left hand, I only do this when I plan to do little if any moving. I slowly let the hammer down & started the long walk back up the mountain in the dark.

Some beautiful bear country on one of the marginal days.

100_2357.jpg


One of the many bad days, standing in almost the same place as the above photo, Ridge is with me.

100_2347.jpg


My lovely wife & perhaps the finest cook on the planet!

100_2337.jpg


Much more later!! Several bear photo's!!
 

COR

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
846
Location
Pittsburgh, Pa
I can't wait for more...please tell your wife Happy Mother's Day from all of us! I love your bear hunting stories!
 

Jeff Hoover

Blackhawk
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
919
Dick ? Who was your outfitter and guide ? Oh yeah, I forgot, YOU know how to do it all !!! :D Just the way ol' Elmer did it, with your own sweat and knowledge. But where did your boys learn how to do it the right way ? Oh yeah, you taught them !!! Lucky boys :D . And now the grand kids are learning from you and their Dads. Man, in years to come, them black bears are in a world of trouble from that Thompson clan, from Idaho !

Looked like a great trip ! Ruth Annes smile says it all, a trailer full of groceries and her boys. Talk about team work ! One to cook, several to eat all that great cooking. I think the aroma RuthAnne was putting out of that trailer was the reason for all the bear sightings. Did you notice all the drooling bears and hear their bellies growl ? I didn't know scent baiting was legal in Idaho :lol: .

Anxiously waiting for the rest of your report/stories.
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Finally on the last day of the hunt we got the weather we wanted, it was quite clear, maybe 55 degrees & no wind, the bears would be hungry from staying holed up so much in the last 6-7 days....now it was our turn.
We spotted a couple of bears almost immediately but they were doing a lot of moving around, then about noon one of them gave us just enough time to work in & Brett busted him with his 375 Chey-Tac at just under 400 yds, a nice black bear, we were back in the winners circle. He had built the rifle himself & this was the second kill with it, last year he took a muley buck at 807 yds, one shot.
A nice mature black bear taken by Brett.


100_2354.jpg


Here's Brett with his bear & the 375 Chey-Tac.

100_2356.jpg




Later the same day I kept seeing bears in almost every draw, they were wanting to feed. As I glassed up the valley a mile or so I could see 2 bears feeding out into the grassy meadows, a mature cinammon phase bear & a larger blonde bear, this was the 3rd blonde one in my hunting life, I couldn't believe it. At about the same time Shane, who had recently had achillies surgery & was wearing a walking cast was looking at a blonde bear 30 miles to the north of his brothers. Travis was his spotter.
The bear kept coming a little closer & then angled off towards some heavy pines, Travis told him it was 525 yds, he was shooting his own custom 280 with 140 gr slugs, at the shot the bear crumbled, we had another one, only dad was left & I had 3 hours of daylight left.
This is the only photo I got & the blonde sow is covered in a lot of blood, I'll get better pictures from Shane's camera, she's is magnificient!

100_2361.jpg

I had spotted 2 bears down my way, I decided to take a trail on the 4 wheeler & see if I could skirt them & get the wind in my favor, it was a 5-6 mile circle to get in position.
This country is very rugged, lots of cliffs, deep canyons, water in many places & the ground was kind of slick because of the rain & snow, I couldn't make very good time. As I got farther down the mountain I suddenly spotted a bear right in front of me, I now had the wind & it had no idea I was there. At first I thought it was one of the two I had spotted earlier, it was not, this bear was another cinammon phase bear & looked to be a very nice one.
The distance was about 75 yds but very steep, if you dropped a bowling ball where I was standing it would have went 500-600 yds to the bottom. I eased the big 480 out of my Barranti masterpiece, cocked the hammer, put my left thumb between the frame & hammer & started moving in. At 45-50 yds I set down, caught my breath & looked through the binoc's to make sure the bear was alone, it was.
I moved to the left side of the pine tree I was hiding behind, brought up my knees & took a deep breath. Now you'll hear about the 3rd 1st time ever event in my life, I settled the sights in tight behind the shoulder & squeezed the trigger & heard the worst sound I've heard in over 50 years of hunting....CLICK...the bear raised its head, I was so stunned I hurried the second shot & it fired but I could tell from the bears reaction I had shot over, the bear looked down towards where the bullet hit & then ran to my left, I shot again.....CLICK.... now the bear turns up hill towards me on a dead run, it stops broadside at maybe 20 yds & looks down the canyon again, I hold on the right front shoulder.....CLICK.... the bear hears the hammer fall & looks me right in the eye, whirls & dives in the brush, I try shooting again & this one fires but I was so shocked at what was happening I'm not sure I even expected anything. Three of the first 4 had misfired, I pulled a Glenn Swaggartt & threw the gun out into the grass & just laid back on the ground trying to replay what had just happened.
When I set up I caught a glimpse of the bear running out the bottom of a pine pocket 300 yds below me.
At first I thought it was something to do with the transfer bar, perhaps the pawl, I just didn't know, in all my life I've never had something like that happen. I could have killed that bear with a wet kleenex, heck I could have killed it with my bare hands I was so upset.
I found my 4 wheeler at 10:20, it was a long ride out of there, I reached the 5th wheel just before midnight & told them what had happened. The next morning my gunsmith son (Shane) said, lets go look at your gun. If we cocked it fast the hammer would go into the full cock position but the cylinder wasn't indexing, you had to turn it with your hand, if you cocked it slow it worked fine everytime.
The night before when I had got in close to the other 2 bears I told my grandson to listen & if he heard me shoot to come around the mountain & pick me up. When I had gained 1/2 mile of distance from the bears I fired a shot, waited a while & walked another 200 yds or so & fired again, this one didn't fire, it was pitch black but I felt the cylinder & it hadn't locked in. The photo shows 2 rounds with a firing pin dent in the rim, one round shows 2 dents, one from each night.
I'll talk with Alan tomorrow & I'm sure it will be an easy fix, this is just something that can happen with anything mechanical & it did happen. I'll take out my frustrations on badgers & rock chucks when I get the gun back, there's always another day for bear hunting.

100_2363.jpg


100_2362.jpg

If you look close there are 3 bears in the photo, a sow with 2 cubs, they are probably 2,000 yds away.

100_2349.jpg


More later, Dick
 

Sheriff

Single-Sixer
Joined
May 4, 2010
Messages
461
Location
Oklahoma
Looks like that fella Murphy was working against you on your bear, Dick.
Enjoyed the story and pics, thats for sharing.
 

mt

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 22, 2008
Messages
290
Location
Rocksprings, Texas
I really enjoyed the story Dick. It sounds like y'all had a great hunt overall. It's some bad luck with your gun but I'm glad none of those rounds went off without the cylinder being locked up.

Great bears and beautiful scenery, thanks for posting.

mt
 

powder smoke

Hawkeye
Joined
Aug 16, 2005
Messages
6,801
Location
Milo Maine
Always enjoy your stories of a hunt, Get that 480 indexing properly and you'll be in good shape. Sounds like an excellent hunting trip except for your revolver, wish the Mrs. happy mother's day for me. Lookin foward to part 3, ps
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
21,473
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
I have been patiently waiting to hear how the hunt went.
I can smell the wonderful cooking Miss Ruth Ann was doing, see the smiles on her face at having the family with y'all,, and even the nip in the air of the rougher weather.
And,, I can see the boys bagging the bears,, the FINE grandsons enjoying the times with the fathers & grandparents. All in all,, having met most of the family you are talking about I felt as if I was there.

And,, I was wondering about the "first" that you held out for,, and was a bit shocked. Not what I expected. I was expecting a possible state record,, rare color phase,, or even a hand-to-hand "dance" with a bear. Not a gun problem. I'll apologize now for ribbing ya about all of us "abusing" your gun while it was in Tx. No more from me! Yes,, I'm sure Alan will make it right, and you are well aware of mechancial objects giving issues. But to have tested it,, and not found the problem,, only to have it surface at THE moment you needed it most,,, is truly a hunting story. Most memorable,,,!
Tell the family "hi" for me,, and as always,, maybe next time,,,!
PS; Did you find the big boy at all during this trip?
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Ferninand, its a state law in Idaho that the bear meat has to be taken also, not just the hide. Also you can easily sell the gall bladder to the Chinese in the area. I'm told it will bring as much as $200 here & much more in China, they see it as more potent than Viagra, they also want them from the mountain lions for the same reason. We've never kept a gall bladder. Also we've never baited bears although its legal in some units in Idaho, its always been spot & stalk for us & we've taken 20 now.

Contender, the boys did see the big black twice, very far away & always moving, Brett got on him one day & said he's an easy 7 footer, has to be the bear. Shane & I didn't see him, we were many miles north at the time.
Yes Ruth Ann kept her boys well fed, T bones, homemade pasta, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken, german chocoloate cake, blueberry cheese cake, strawberry short cake, bananna cream pie, hot rolls & buttermilk bisquits, etc, everything is always made from scratch......you know.

Dick
 

Swampbilly

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jul 29, 2007
Messages
235
sixshot":1eus9lub said:
.....T bones, homemade pasta, chicken fried steaks, fried chicken, german chocoloate cake, blueberry cheese cake, strawberry short cake, bananna cream pie, hot rolls & buttermilk bisquits, etc, everything is always made from scratch......you know.
Dick


Oh stop it...just stop it !

:) :wink:
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
More bear photo's.

This is Brett's bear, taken with the 375 Chey-Tac at just under 400 yds.

brett.jpg


Three of my sons & 3 of the grandsons with Bretts bear.

100_2355.jpg


Travis's large bear, this is an honest 7 footer, taken with his custom 30/06 at 75 yds after a very good stalk.

travbear.jpg


This is Shane's blonde bear, taken about 30 miles from the other 2, you can see its a little different terrain. This is one of the most beautiful bears you'll ever see, the hide is perfect.

shabear.jpg


Dick
 

callshot

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 26, 2006
Messages
952
Location
Pocatello, Idaho
Nice story Dick. It was better Sunday evening when you told it to me in person. I felt bad for you not getting to blood up that gun with a bear. I would like to have seen you at 20 yards dancing with it in a slow waltz. I can visualize you doing the Rocky Mountain gallop and two step. I also thought that I was the best cook that you know. :roll: Get the gun fixed so I don't have to watch you throw it at a badger. While you were gone, I wandered off for 4 days and found some new drinks for us to try this summer when it warms up. 8) Steve
 
Joined
Sep 1, 2003
Messages
5,392
Location
Richmond Texas USA
Hey Sixshot,
I just got back from Alan Harton's place.
You will be happy to know that while I was there I worked on your 480. Since Alan was to Busy because he had to work on my stuff. I thought this was the least I could do for a good Buddy.
Well all that was wrong with your gun is. That little pushie thingie in the bottom of the frame wasn't going into those notch things in the cylinder.
No problem for a gun fixer like me. All I had to do was smash that thingie in the frame a little. I didn't have time to take it out so the new dents on the side of the frame don't look to bad. You will get used to them I'm sure. Next I got out my favorite tool "The Die Grinder". Well let me tell ya that baby makes those notchie things REAL big in no time. Since it is Stainless you can polish out the grind marks.
Well now your gun is GOOD TO GO. I would suggest that you don't hunt anything bigger than Ground Squirrels with it. It goes Bang most of the time. Well about 2 out of 6 times.
I'm really glad that I was able to help you out on your problem.
You don't need to thank me now just buy me a beer the next time we meet.
Glad to help,
Jim
 

sixshot

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
1,835
Location
soda springs, idaho
Jim, I don't know how I can ever repay you for your help, very few people are as handy with a hammer & pry bar as you, I guess I'll have to show you one of my favorite trout streams when you get out this way. Of course this place is closed to fishing so the Fish & game might give you one of there $75 awards for dangling your worm in closed waters. :wink:

Dick
 

Sheriff

Single-Sixer
Joined
May 4, 2010
Messages
461
Location
Oklahoma
That is one nice blonde bear!

I wouldn't worry too much about the hammer and grind marks on your repaired pistol. I hear they help cut the glare from the stainless finish. :wink:
 

Latest posts

Top