2018-12-01 / Outdoors

INSIDE THE OUTDOORS

Deep snow no problem

As the opening day of bear season drew near, excitement was building for the crew hunting out of the Zoschg Homestead. Snow was forecasted, and we were all looking forward to being able to track any bears we might encounter during the hunt.

Once it started snowing, it didn’t stop until Friday morning. Although we had about nine or ten inches of snow in the valley, on top of the mountain there was a good foot.

With temperatures hovering a degree or two above freezing on Friday and Saturday, it became wet and heavy and downright exhausting to hunt in.

I started Saturday morning before dawn climbing the mountain with Dan, one of two people in our original crew who had yet to get a bear. Halfway up, we cut a set of bear tracks from Friday. Things were looking good as daylight began to mix with the darkness and dimly illuminate the snow-covered landscape around us.

Climbing a steep hillside like this is a grueling task, but we were pushed on by our excitement. As we approached the rock where Dan was going to watch, we cut another set of bear tracks from the previous day. Then, at the rock, we cut two more bear tracks.

The snow betrayed nearly all the details of the bears’ activities the previous day and really fueled our hopes.

Dan stayed at the rock, and I continued to the top to watch the area. The morning was quiet and cold. The snow was deep and it still was clinging to the trees and laurel, reducing visibility.

It was strangely quiet.

After a long wait, we heard shots. They sounded far away, but sound doesn’t travel well when there is snow sticking on trees. Radio signal apparently doesn’t travel very well either, because I couldn’t contact anyone to find out if it was one of our crew.

We figured someone must have shot a bear. Once we reached our rendezvous point, we learned what had happened. As everyone traveled to their different spots to watch on stand, they had seen a lot of fresh bear signs on a certain ridge. The tracks went down onto a small laurel choked bench, but didn’t come out the other side.

Afterward they decided to have one guy walk the bench out toward three others before coming out to meet us and start the planned drives. Two bears were on the bench. They were pushed out, the second trailing the first by 20 yards.

They came right out to John, who let them come in close. He had the crosshairs on the first bear when he squeezed the trigger, and it crashed face-first into the deep snow.

The second bear came up and sniffed the first, then continued on to where Adam and Seth were waiting. They both saw it coming, but it was Seth who had the shot. It is hard to hit a moving bear in the woods, but two of Seth’s four shots connected. Just like that, we had two bears, both yearling boars.

After the excitement of two bears, we started more drives. Bears were in the areas we drove. And we caught glimpses, but none of the bears presented themselves to be seen.

It was exhausting hunting in the deep snow. At the end of the day we were tired, but we couldn’t complain. We had taken two bears and the opening day of the season had been a success. All the sore muscles and exhaustion were overcome by the deep feeling of satisfaction after a successful day’s hunt.

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