Spring bears


Dec 13, 2006
Took two spring bears trips this year and ended up with two bears.

Bear #1 - Oregon coast area where we have been going for several years. Terrain is steep and really think brush. Weather - wet and wet. Plan was for 4 days of hunting. I arrived later Sunday evening than I had hoped, just missing any chance to hunt in the evening. Found a camping spot and set up the tent. Started to rain a bit that evening. Monday - overcast in the morning. Hunted a few spots (spot/stalk and cold calling). Started to really rain by the afternoon. No bears seen, spotted moderate amount of sign. I usually wait until early May to spring bear hunt, but I thought spring was early this year but, I was still a little too early as not much grass growing yet except along the river banks.

Monday night....RAIN, RAIN and more RAIN. The original place I was going to camp was on a lower landing along a river from where I ended up setting up my tent. Tuesday morning, the lower area was a pool of water about 4 inches deep. Remember, always set up your camp on the higher ground. Loaded up the TW and headed to scout some new area. Spent the day scouting around, glassed a few clear cuts but definitely getting wet and cold (the only downside of using a motorcycles for scouting)

Driving back to camp that night just before dark, I was driving a road next to a river. Along the bank I spotted a black spot. Pulled over, walked back and down off the edge of the road and on the opposite side of the river was a black bear feasting in the grass. Not a big bear, but after a cold day, I settled. Bear was about 40 yds facing 10 o'clock. 338 Federal with a 200 gr E-tip behind the front shoulder and the bear just rolled over dead.

Now came the retrieval.....got a rope, towels and walked to the rivers edge. Not fast moving water but sort of deep. Tied the rope to a stump on my side of the river, stripped to my skivvies and started across the river. My initial path was good until about 10 feet from the other side, then I lost sight of the river bottom (water at my belly button). Walked back and headed slightly up stream. I know I have the rope if I needed to swim. The water was not COLD, but definitely took you breath away and night time was coming. After moving up stream decided I needed to cross one way or another (wading or swimming). Waded out again, water hit my nipple level (I am 6'3") but was able to reach the other side. The bear was about 6 feet off the rivers edge. Climbed up, tied the rope around the back paws and pulled her just off the banks edge. Started to wade back across the river. Once I got past the deep water and back onto my side of the river, I pulled the bear into the water and floated her across. Took me about 45 minutes to pack her up the the suburban.

Bear was probably 175 pounds on the ground, the state biologist estimated 5 year old sow

Bear #2 Decided to buy myself a birthday set up a guided hunt along the central washington coast. The hunt was a Quinault Coastal Bear Hunt. Bears run 300-450 lbs. It is a baited hunt. I had never been on a guided bear hunt nor a baited bear hunt. Hunt was planned for four days. Bait stations are 50 gallon plastic barrels stuffed with bread, chocolate syrup and frosted animal crackers. When coming into the tree stands, the guide pulls the memory card from the trail camera to see what the activity has been. Each barrel had 2 or 3 bears each day coming to feed. Terrain is flat coast area with REALLY thick brush.

Day #1 - I went up into a tree stand. Dropped off at 1200 and instructed to NOT eat, pee, and move as little as possible. About 3:30 a bear comes in and starts to eat on the barrel. From the trail camera, I was able to know it was the sow. She had a rub on her back quarter. My youngest son want a bear blanket, thus I want a bear with a nice coat. I wathc the sow eat and I think...I don't want the sow to eat all the food, so I make a little noise to push her away. No activity the rest of the day. Guide comes back at dark - 8:45 pm. Even though the weather was 58 during the day and 50 at dark, it is getting really cold at dark beause of the lack of avtivity. The guide and I talk about the day and he says, I should have let the sow eat, as the boar was probably just waiting for her to leave (we are getting close to the rut and the bears are pairing up).

Day #2 - One a tree stand at 1200 (three bears on the trail camera). 9 hrs later...nothing, no bear activity. Never know I could sit that long, go that long with out peeing. I dressed warmer.

Day #3 - A different stand. Trail camera shows a sow and two boars. Dropped at a tree stand about 1200. No activity all day and getting a bit discouraged. Finally about 7:30 p.m., I see movement beyond the barrel. The area is pretty dense with brush and is totally flat. By 7:30 when I see the bear, I think it is coming down a hill towards the barrel (mind you the ground is flat but after too many hours watching the same things look different). As the bear comes near the barrel, I can see she has a rub on her rear side...the sow. I wait and wait. The sow comes in and feeds 5 times on the barrel. I think...should I as I dont want to go home empty handed. I remember the guide telling me to wait as the boar will come in after the sow. About 15 minutes later, from almost right beneath my stand, a bear comes out of the brush and walks down the road towards the barrel. The barrel is 30 yds from my stand. Do I move to get a shot? No....I know where he is going....This is one of the boars I saw on the trail camera. Really nice black coat. He walks straight to the barrel. The opening is on the far side from my tree stand, so he would be almost at 1100 when eating from the barrel. The bear sticks his head into the barrel, grabs a bite and pulls his head out. 338 Federal with a 185 Barnes TSX at 1100 straight on his chest. The bear just rolls over dead.

Hanging weight little over 350 lbs - for a spring bear. Would be closer to 425 in the fall.

Now I have plenty of bear sausage. Have done my baited bear hunt. While I was successful and learned some things from the guide about bears, it was a difficult type of hunting. I like more active hunting and enjoying the environment I am hunting in.

I can say that I am impressed with the 338 Federal. While both close shots, neither bear moved after the shot. No recovered bullets.

Camp on my Oregon Spring hunt

Bear from the Oregon hunt (it was dark in the picture)


Day #1 of Quinault. Barrel straight ahead


Day #2.

The bear

Quite a successful spring for you. Congratulations. The baited bear is a dandy. I'm with you, however, in preferring to be more active. You did well on either bear. Each is a trophy in its own way. Again, congratulations! (y)
Very cool! Clearly the 338 Federal is a great caliber! Both the etip and tsx performed great! Congrats!
A couple nice looking bears especially that second one, congrats on your success. How much did the second bear square? Looks like a really good sized bear. It would appear you used a Tikka in the second hunt, what is your other 338 Federal?

Glad to see others getting out for spring bear, one of the nicest times to be out although the weather sounded pretty tough for the first hunt.
Couple of nice guns you got there. I have to say that doesn't look much different then around here with all that nice grass, along with cedar, spruce, hemlock and red alder, yes that does look like bear country.........
Congrats! A couple of nice looking animals and firearms you have there. Enjoy the bear sausage!
It looks like you had a couple of great hunts!!! Congratulations on connecting on 2 bears (y)!
Thank you for the post with photos!!