It was early spring and bear season had just opened. My hunting partner at the time and I were on our way to find a bear. He had just picked me up at 4:30 am and we were excited to get out into the woods. It had been a mild winter and we knew the bears were out of their dens and wandering around looking for food. My partner and I had been hunting together for the past three years with great success. We were both excited but I could tell he had something heavy on his mind. After our conversation on where we thought we should go he fell silent and I was wondering what was on his mind. I knew his dad wasn’t doing well, he had been fighting cancer for a few years. The silence was broken when he said “Dad passed last night.” I wasn’t surprised but it hurt the same. I asked him why he wasn’t with his mom. He said “Pops would have wanted me to hunt opening morning and all the family is getting together this afternoon, so let’s get a bear for Pops.” We hunted hard that morning and never saw a bear. About noon we both thought it was more important to head for his moms place to be with the family. On the way to my place he asked if I would go with him and I said yes I would like that. On the long drive to his mom’s he shared a few stories of his Pops and him hunting when he was young. We arrived at his mom’s house, a log cabin sitting in a meadow with three ponds about 100 yards from the house. I loved coming here it is a perfect place to live. Just as we parked and started walking towards the house his mom opened the door and with an excited voice said “Come quickly, hurry get in.” We weren’t sure what was going on but ran for the door once she said there is a bear trying to get in the cabin. There were six adults and four kids in the house. She explained he is standing on his hind legs with his front paws on the big picture window. We turned and headed for the living room. He wasn’t there so we started going from room to room looking out the windows to find him. One of the guys yelled “He is over here”, so we all ran into the bedroom to see. There he was, walking towards the ponds, obviously tired of getting nowhere with the house. He had been trying to get in for about an hour going from window to door and walking around the house. After we had heard this I suggested that he needed to be removed. He isn’t afraid of humans so he is a danger to have around. His mom said yes so we watched him waddle across the meadow and into the trees. The plan was to let him get out of sight of the house so the kids wouldn’t see us harvest it. I went to the truck and got my rifle, a .280 Remington, a gun I got from my father when I was in my teens. I walked across the meadow and past the ponds to where the bear had entered the woods. My mind was racing, “What’s he going to do when he sees me? Is he going to charge or run?” I wasn’t sure but I was ready. I was walking slow and straining my eyes to see any movement. There was a hill to my left with thick timber and a creek to my right. I was walking on an old road my partners Pops had built years earlier to log some trees on the back half of the property. I had walked into the woods far enough that the house was out of sight. As fat as that bear was I figured he would be walking on this road. I heard a muffled branch break on the hillside, so I knew he was close. I was taking one step at a time making sure not to alert him of my presence then I heard the ominous sound of snapping jaws. I could hear him but I couldn’t see him the timber was thick about 40 yards up the hill. I readied myself not knowing what was going to happen. I didn’t dare move. The snapping turned to low growls then a loud snap of a branch and a loud huff. There he was coming straight at me huffing with every step. He was closing the distance fast. I raised my gun and looked through the scope, all I could see was hair. I fired and looked around the scope. I couldn’t believe my eyes, he was still coming. About 10 feet in front of me was a large log laying across the ground. He ran into the log and stood up, with both front paws grabbing a tree. I quickly reloaded, pointed the gun, and pulled the trigger. He fell, hit the log, and rolled towards me. I started to run but my feet wouldn’t move. I reloaded again but didn’t see any movement. I just stared watching for any movement. I am not sure how long I was there but my partner heard the 2 shots. He wasn’t sure what was going on so he ran across the meadow and was yelling for me. His yell brought me out of the trance I was in and I tried to yell back. All I got out was a whisper. I realized I wasn’t making any noise so I tried harder. I finally got out a loud “I’m over here.” He came running up behind me. I hadn’t moved and I hadn’t taken my eyes off of the bear. When my partner touched my shoulder I started shaking. I hadn’t been able to process what had just happened. It had all happened so fast. When I saw him he was at 40 yards so my first shot was about 30 yards, the second at about 10 feet. Now he laid dead about 5 feet away. I finally moved. I stepped around the bear and sat on the log still not taking my eyes off of him. My partner started laughing and after a few seconds I started laughing. It took 4 of us to load the bear into my truck. He dressed out at over 350 lbs and had a green score of 20 1/6″ and later dried to 19 9/16″. I can’t help but think Pops was there.
It’s a memory I will never forget.
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