Vancouver Island Spring Black Bear Hunt 2010
Black Bear hunting the month of May on Vancouver Island is something every hunter should experience just once. The Islands Black Bear population (estimated at 12,000+) is extremely healthy and it’s not uncommon to have days where you’ll see 20 or more bears in a single day. Active logging on the island has created an immense network of accessible forestry roads that are right in the middle of prime bear country making it an easy hunt for access as well.
We set off on Friday morning, May 14th in the direction of Bamfield to a little area that has produced several bears for us and friends over the past few years. It’s a long winding drive, with many miles of pot-hole laden logging roads. The heat had dried out the gravel roads to the point where visibility was about zero if you had a vehicle 1/4 mile ahead of you.
I was travelling solo, and meeting up with some buddies at our predetermined spot. We all met up successfully, and pitched our camp, then ventured out the first late afternoon in search of a bear. A quick 10 minute quad ride from camp, and we’d found our first bear in a clear cut, not a bad bear and he was uphill from the road to boot, close to 6′ but he’d rubbed off a large patch of his fur from his rear quarters and wouldn’t have made much of a rug. We sat and watched him as he slowly worked his way through the clear cut and into the darkness of the dense cedars.
Aside from a bear or two in places we couldn’t get too that first afternoon was pretty uneventful. Onto the second day and we spent most the early part of the day quading along the river trails looking for some fishing holes, we found the holes just not the fish and the best we could do was a a nice sized cutthroat that ended up spitting the hook 30 seconds into the fight. We could see several large steelhead in the river as well, but alas could not find what they were biting or even paying attention too.
As the afternoon approached we took off on the quads out to an area with some accessible cuts that has always managed to produce bears for us, after a few hours of glassing from different vantage points, we were pretty dejected not finding any bears and decided that maybe it was time to just go and do a little fishing again… It’s funny how just a few minutes changes an entire hunting trip.
On the way back to camp, our buddy (eagle eye) he’s a non-hunter too, spotted a great looking bear on one of our accessible clear cuts. We put the spotting scope on him and determine he was a good bear, not a huge bear but at least a mature boar.
There is only one way into this area and as it turned out the wind was just right for us, and we were able to make the short stalk up to the bear. We were separated by a great big pile of logs, immediately followed by a small ravine with a tiny creek in the bottom which provided ample noise cover for the approach of all 5 of us. (2 hunters and 3 non-hunters).
We all made our way to the pile of logs and then I slowly climbed up the pile and had a look for the bear… He’d come our direction and was now wrestling with a tree only 50 or so yards away. I said to my buddy Andy “Get up here on these logs and get ready…” “He’s Right Here!…” I said.
Andy is a newer hunter, who’s introduction to hunting so far hasn’t been the greatest, with his first kill (an island buck) getting away into the thick brush and not being able to be found after extensive efforts. The experience has made him a little trigger shy to say the least and this was the perfect opportunity for him to get back in the game. Andy handed me his rifle as he made his way up the logs and then jacked a shell in the gun… We’d discussed his shot placement earlier and with his calibre 30-06 and bullet weight (180grn) a shoulder shot would anchor the bear and most likely bang flop him right there.
As Andy got himself into position, the bear was already out in the open not even 40 yards away, standing there facing towards us, but he still didn’t know we were even there, despite all 5 of our heads peering over the log. I told Andy to take his time, no rush, get a good bead on the bear. He asked me what power his scope should be on… I said 4… (but he turned it to 5 anyway lol) and then got his hold on the bear. The bear was still quartering towards us, not spooked or even aware of our presence so I kept Andy on hold until the moment was perfect… Finally the bear took a turn and stood broadside, I said “Andy, Now” and BOOM the 30-06 barked only once as the bear fell to the ground immediately without even a twitch. The bullet had entered high in the shoulder and took out the shoulder/spine immediately killing and anchoring the bear.
Some cheers and high fives, then everyone including the non-hunters learned how to skin a bear for a rug and pack it out of the bush… We were able to drag him a little ways and then hook up the winch for the rest. The meat came home with me, and will be posted in a second story as it’s going to be ground up, boiled and mixed with some veggies for a nutrient rich organic dog food.