Bear season started September 2nd, and we spent many days sitting, waiting, and watching for bears. In Colorado you can not bait a bear, nor can you use dogs when hunting them. Hunting a bear is a challenge for sure.
We spent days trying to stalk up on the big elusive bears. They see amazingly well for having the little beady eyes that they’ve got, and they can hear and smell even better. The stalking method didn’t seem to be paying off. We began sitting. We sat for days which felt like months. It even felt as though we were watching the seasons change before our eyes. The berries went from bright red to deep burgundy as they ripened and then this week they shriveled up as the frost has begun. We sat and we sat!
When you are sitting a water hole, the best thing you can do is “play” the wind. We sat downwind from that hole. There were a lot of tall brush and trees and then a little clearing where the water was toward our left. As you may or may not know, in the Colorado mountains, the wind changes. It changes a lot. To help eliminate our scent so no bear would smell us, I shampooed and showed in scent-eliminating products. I washed our clothes in scent block, and we sprayed ourselves down in scent block. I even put a scent wafer on my hat. I am not sure I am convinced that those products work, but I did whatever I could do to help. I darn sure wasn’t going to wear vanilla musk for this task. God knows, the last thing I want is to attract one of those big burly animals to come and eat me! So, I opted for the scent products and it is sufficient to say I smelled like dirt and maybe even a little worm poop smell from that scent wafer on my hat!
After trying a couple, we found ourselves a darn good hole to sit. On the first day at that hole, we saw three bears! Hank & I learned on that day that we had very little time to judge the bear much less to raise my gun to make a shot. There was such a small window of opportunity. Only about a quarter of the water hole was visible from where we had chosen to sit, but given the wind direction, this was the best spot for me to be. I kept my rifle on my shooting sticks and as close to my shoulder as I could so that I would be ready for a shot. We sat and we sat.
We came to our favorite water hole and sat for several days. It felt like months. We saw small bears, and we saw large bears. Some were smaller than my dog, and some were as big as a car. I could not get a shot on all of them, but there were a few that I did have my crosshairs on. One nice bear was in the clearing, right in the center of the crosshairs. I had even flipped my safety off to shoot as into the picture ran two small cubs. I, fortunately, did not squeeze a shot off. Everyone knows it is not legal or ethical to shoot a sow with cubs. My heart jumped. Bears are dangerous. They are not “Teddy” bears, and a momma bear will protect her cubs.
We watched as that sow took the two cubs to water. Then she walked back toward the trees with one cub following her. The other cub stayed at the pond. My heart raced, and I handed Hank the pistol off my belt as she grunted. We waited to see what was going to happen. If that cub didn’t go, would she catch our scent and come after us? We waited as she headed away around a bunch of scrub oak. She grunted, and he finally followed. We felt some relief except that we knew she was not gone.
We could see movement behind the brush as they turned around to return to the water. Our hearts raced even more. She appeared and was burled up. Her hide stood about six inches off her shoulders and back. We worried as we just knew she had winded us! I kept my sites on her and knew I could not shoot. It is not legal. Still, I kept her in my sites, and Hank kept the pistol in his hand. Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, she headed off with the cubs in tow, grunting up the hill and away from us.
We even had a huge boar come up within 5 feet of our blind. He was on the other side of the oak brush again and out of sight for the hunter… ME! That was another artery-clearing experience. He was a bear that could have eaten Hank and me as a snack. So that you know, he is still out there!
We had many a day with adrenaline rushes and heartaches as the huntress, me, wasn’t prepared to get a shot, or the bear didn’t present himself. The days were long, and when we arrived home late at night, our bodies hurt from sitting and the adrenaline that had run through our blood. We had sore muscles as though we had hiked to the top of saddle mountain and slept hard. Always waking up before light to head out again. Bear hunting is tough!
My bear came in at about 6:00 in the evening. He was grunting as he ran another smaller bear off. He wasn’t the largest bear I’ve seen, but he sure looked like a shooter as he snarled at that other bear. He was the one! I sited him in, centered the crosshairs, and BAM! Yep, just like that. One shot, one kill. All in a moment, the many hours and days of sitting and having adrenaline rush after adrenaline, it was over. I FINALLY DID IT!!!! 6 pm on September 18th. This was the 18th bear we saw! Can you imagine the bears we never even saw because the wind was wrong and they saw or heard us? How many bears must be out there?!
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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Want to write to me? Mia Anstine MAC Outdoors LLC PO Box 31 Ignacio, CO 81137-0031