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Author Topic: Grizzly Bears by Jack Howard  (Read 2724 times)

Offline Terry_Green

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Grizzly Bears by Jack Howard
« on: October 17, 2004, 02:27:00 PM »
                                                             Foreword                                                                  By Charlie Lamb

By now many of you are familiar with the stories posted here by Jack Howard. Here is yet another of Jack's many experiences while hunting with bow and arrow.


                                                                     GRIZZLY BEARS
                                                                      By Jack Howard


I expect there are a lot of bow hunters out there that at sometime will hunt in Grizzly bear country. Perhaps through some of my experiences, it may give a little insight on what to
expect. This article should not be too long as it is mostly pertaining to Grizzlies and not hunting game.

Most of my encounters with Grizzlies has been in the Bob Marshall wilderness area in Montana.
After hunting this country for a number of years, I am pretty well convinced that the fish &
game department transported all of the unmanageable Grizzlies from Yellowstone into the Bob Marshall.

The Bob Marshall is big country, Real big country. I have hunted the Bob Marshall from both sides. On the west side, you go in by Swan Lake. It is a very steep trail, and
only kept up by those that wished to venture into the rugged country.

I remember one year, I had to back track out since there were so many dead falls over the trail, I just could not get my horses in. I had seen Elk in this area the year before so I was really
determined to get in, I had to go into Kalispell where I purchased a Homelite chain saw and sawed my way in.

The East side entrance trail head is by Gibson Dam, the trail is very narrow which goes along side of the dam... I expect for about 8 miles. This trail is really not too bad unless you meet an oufitter coming out and you have to pass each other, then it becomes real treacherous. One bowhunter I knew lost his Mule on one of these trails (deceased - not strayed).

This country is big enough to allow Grizzles to roam about, I guess that is why they transfer the bad one’s here.
I have always been conscious that bears could be about, but really did not take it too seriously, that is until I started to come across more each year.
At first I started carrying a little 25 automatic in my pocket, this seem to be more of a mental comfort rather than anything practical. As time went on and I began to come to my senses, I got to thinking I would have to stick my little 25 into the bears mouth and shoot. More likely than
not, the bear would swallow my bullet and then eat my little 25 for dessert. I started thinking I had better pack a little larger gun to be on the safe side.
This one year, I took my wife, horses and dogs, into the Bob Marshall for a pre hunting trip, just to scout it out and see where I wanted to set up my main camp when I returned later in
the year.

 This year I had a 30 caliber German Luger on my side, really not meant for serious business when it comes to a Grizzly, but very much up graded from my little 25 Auto.
On one of the afternoons my wife was fixing lunch, and she spotted a bear strolling across the meadow that we were camped next to. The bear was about 50 yards away and was not looking our way, so at that time it was just a nice experience to see a bear in the wilds. About 10 minutes later, the Grizzly was on his way into our camp, looking pretty serious, at first I fired my wife’s 22 magnum into the air, thinking the noise would just spook him away. No such luck! He just did not pay any attention to the noise this magnum made. I then took out my Luger, and as he was comming
directly at me, I started firing over his head, this didn’t seem to be doing a lot of good. I lowered my aim a bit and started shooting just above and between his ears, finally when he reached a point about 10 feet away, he turned and left. I just don’t know what made him turn, my bullets could have been nicking his ears, or the noise may have bothered him. I am thankful to this day, that he turned and I did not have to start shooting into him.
From what I have heard from others about encounters with Grizzlies, that 30 caliber might have just irritated him and not put him down.

It was during this time period that at least one, perhaps two, backpackers had been killed and eaten by Grizzlies, and that was lingering in the back of our minds.
At this point in time, I seriously considered carrying a bigger gun, and I did not take my wife and dogs back into this country.
I did not have my bow with me on any scouting trips, but even if I did, when a fellows life can be at stake, he better have all of the odds on his side.

Even though my encounters with Grizzlies became more frequent, I really loved hunting way back in that desolate country after those big Elk.

I felt the only answer for me if I were to still hunt in this place I loved so much, was to buy a little bigger gun. On my next trips I carried a 15 shot 9 MM Smith and Wesson.
Even though this gun is not a real match for a Grizzly when your life is in the balance, I felt the 15 rounds would give me some sort of a better chance.

Keep in mind, I always hunted this country completely alone, I had to rely on my own judgement to do what I felt was best. The picture that I have shown was taken by a fellow bowhunter as I road into a camp for a nights stay before Grizzly Bears moving in. He gave me the negative. I was quite certain I would never have a use for it, or I would have taken
better care of it as it is not all that great.

At any rate this fellow was really impressed with my pack set up and mentioned that I looked like I was really loaded for bear. Bear was not what I had in mind, as it turned out though, his statement turned out to be true.
Next day I moved into a spot I had previously picked out on one of my scouting trips, it had nice green grass for my horses and water near by. Really a perfect spot to camp.
As usual, I had arrived two days early. I wanted plenty of time to set up camp before I started  hunting seriously.
I set up my tent, tied my food and the horses grain and pellets up on ropes so I could pull my food up into the trees. As it was chilly, I had built up a fire and tied my horses near by on picket lines.
As I was getting ready to hit my sleeping bag, my horses started acting up. Horses really hate the smell of a Grizzly.
It was too dark to see very far, so I got out a powerful flashlight that I had, and swung it around the perimeter of my camp. Sure enough, I picked up a pair of eyes just a short ways out. I really could not get any sleep with that Grizzly lurking out there.
My horses kept acting up and this noise alone kept me awake.
I fired some shots from my Smith & Wesson, that seemed to scare the bear away.
As I was quite restless, I kept the camp fire going that night and sat next to it. I wanted to keep my horses calm and make sure that the Grizzly did not come back.

The next day, I checked the food I had tied up into the trees. All of the grain and
pellets had been eaten.
It’s was hard for me to believe that a single bear could eat that much food.

I took what was left of my personal food and put it in my tent. This was still a day or so before the season opened, I scouted around looking over some of my favorite spots to see what kind of activity had been going on. I found plenty of trails and wallows, which are always helpful sign.
On my second night in, I was hoping for a better night's rest.
I started a camp fire and brought in ample wood for the night. As far as a better night, there was no such luck.

I had hit the sack a little early that night. Around midnight, my horses really started carrying on. Again I got out my powerful flashlight and searched the perimeter. On this
night, I spotted two different sets of eyes!
I guess the bear from last night had brought a buddy with him.

As I held the flashlight in one hand, I tried shooting just above the eyes, but this was not scaring the bears away.

My horses did not like what was going on one bit, and I knew if it kept up the way it was going, my l000 lb. horses would break their pickets and take off for parts unknown.

The only solution I could come up with, was to leave my camp to the bears.
I grabbed my sleeping bag, and lead my horses down the hill, quite a distance away from my camp. I was beginning to think, these bears had some sort of an affinity for me.

The next morning I went back to my camp and found just what I had expected to find. You would think a bear would at least have the decency to enter your tent through the front entrance, which I purposely left open. But no, these bears made their own entrance at the rear of my tent.

One thing I found out about Grizzlies from that experience, is that when they are looking for something to eat, they just don’t smell it out, they bite into it, if it then tastes good, they eat it.
Everything I had, had been bitten into, spare flashlights, small gas can, etc. I had a tightly closed tin of insect repellant which they bit into, but did not like it, so did not eat it.

I had taken in at least enough food for myself and horses for a two week stay, now all of our food was gone, and their was just no way I could continue my stay.

I had not only paid around $400. for a Montana license, but had pulled a 2 horse trailer from Calif, packed in at least 25 miles, and all to no avail.
This was to say, a bit discouraging.
I guess all of this past activity had tired me out. I decided to give up the hunt. It was
just too difficult to go through all that preparation again. Also, I would very likely wind up with the same situation with the Grizzlies.

I took my horses and headed back to Calif., trying to figure out if anything could be
done about what had happened.
One consideration was to go in with the idea of doing some serious damage to
the bear population. The trouble is, you would likely have bear bodies strung
about your campground, and the Fish & Game does not take a bit kindly to anyone killing one of their Grizzlies.
If you were to kill a Grizzly, you better be able to show some serious deep teeth marks and scratches on your body, or you will very likely wind up in the poky. Of course this serious bear damage was just a passing thought.

I think I was still just a little upset about what I'd went through. I really came up
with a better solution.
When going into Grizzly country, it would be wise to go in as a team rather than alone.
Having a hunting partner of one or more will give you a better chance of keeping a lookout for bears and moving your camp when it becomes necessary.

Once a Grizzly locates your camp, it is time to move it a mile or so away, if you do not move it, the Grizzly WILL be back!

By having more fellows to help, it can be arranged so each can take a turn in watching
when it is necessary. Perhaps this article I have written will give some of you a little insight of what could happen when in Grizzly country.

The Bob Marshall was my favorite place to hunt, and I had many memorable years of hunting there. I never did go back though as I just could not figure a way to continue the kind of hunting
I preferred to do.

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