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kidso

Hershey Surprise

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Despite being stretched for time as a single working dad, I was able to sneak out a couple of times this season to call for bear on rapid, half-day excursions. Although I longed to hike back into a couple of my sweet calling spots, I lacked the hours to do so. Thus, I found myself exploring and calling in some new areas a bit closer to home. Unfortunately, nothing panned out positively in the way of hungry bruins, and I thought my twenty-year Olympic bear calling streak was finally coming to an end.

 

A guest was coming to visit during the fall school break, so I suggested that it might be fun for us to go camping up in the high country where we could enjoy some cooler air temperatures. A short trip was soon planned, and I started the laborious task of crossing off the calendar days as they slowly expired. After what seemed like an eternity, my friend arrived and we packed up my trailer for our little adventure. Like a fourth quarter Hail Mary thrown in a play-off game, I grabbed my .300-win mag, tossed it into my Jeep, and sheepishly stated that I might as well pack a rifle just in case we ran into a bear since the fall hunt was still open.

 

After arriving at our camping spot late in the day, I surveyed the surrounding canyons and laid the groundwork to slip out just before sunrise to call a couple of stands. With my twins still in dreamland the next morning, I slunkered out and hiked into the oak-choked ravines that kept me tossing and turning all night while coveting thoughts of color-phased bruins. I called stand one using my favorite call, and no dice. I pushed further into the canyon and hit stand two with my back-up call. Still no response from my targeted guests. I decided to venture just a tad further into the vegetation and call one last stand.

 

After screeching and squalling for 20 minutes, I decided that I had better head back to my campsite. I rose from my seated position and Fate begged me to try one more stand just to the east of my present location. I gave into Her prodding, and took a few steps in that direction. I immediately froze in my tracks as I noticed a reddish-black bear walking directly towards the little nub I had just been calling from 30 seconds earlier. Without hesitating, I threw my rifle to my shoulder, placed the crosshairs of my sight right on their bear’s lungs, and squoze the trigger with the bear at 15 yards and approaching fast. Click….nothing! I quickly toggled the safety switch back and forth and pulled the trigger again. CLICK….AGAIN!!

 

Frantically, I realized something was wrong and grabbed the bolt action to eject the faulty cartridge, but it was non-responsive and jammed. I was stuck between a rock and hard place with the bear now at 10 yards. I dropped my rifle and pulled out my 0.40 caliber Glock and sent a hollow point into its side. The bear jumped into the air and took off running like a wildfire in a gusty wind! I checked for blood everywhere and tracked the bear for nearly 100-yards without finding any signs of distress. I continued onward, checking all the nasty brush patches to see if the bear was hunkering low, but still nothing. I was beginning to think that perhaps I missed, or maybe the hollow point shattered on its hide and had little to no penetration on this bear. Whatever the case, I was confident that the bear was safely munching acorns somewhere and laughing about our little encounter.

 

The following morning, I returned to the same spot and called east at daybreak, switching back and forth between my two preferred calls every few minutes. At around 15 minutes, I heard movement further in the canyon and a bull elk sounded off with a solo bugle. I figured that something had motivated that elk to shout out a warning ---hopefully at a predatory intruder that was too close for comfort. I was too full of anticipation to sit still, so I crept forward to increase my field of view and spotted a beautiful chocolate colored bear moving towards me from the opposite side of the canyon. I continued to call and it slowly progressed my direction while pausing to inhale some acorns off the oaks in his path.

 

At that point, I began to panic a bit. Too many questions flooded my mind and introduced doubt into my plans. What if the bear picks up my scent, as I only brought one scent-free outfit to hunt in, and I had already used it? What if the bruin gets too invested in eating acorns and decides to ignore my tantalizing squeals? What if my rifle jams again and the bear is in my face? What if I lose sight of my quarry in the canyon bottom and it slips away unnoticed? Breathe Keith, breathe. The mind games were over. I rapidly ripped open my pack and found my rarely-used range finder. El Oso was now at 235 yards and coming in slowly. I stepped over to a neighboring oak tree and nestled the barrel of my rifle in one of its forked branches before saying a quick prayer. I took a quick breath, touched the trigger, and sent a Barnes bullet completely through both lungs of this Hershey surprise.

 

I clambered over to the expired bear in pure elation, only to discover that my cell phone was completely dead. Fortunately, I had my emergency hunting camera in my bag to snap a few pictures. However, the simple device lacked any timers and prohibited me from taking any quality pictures that included me in the image. (Sorry Adam, no calendar pictures this time around.) Anyways, what can I say? My freezer is full and my bear calling addiction is satiated….at least for this week.

 

 

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Awesome write up Keith! Congrats on another great bear!

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Wow you always amaze me man!!! Great job 👍👍👍 write up was excellent

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WOW, you da man Keith!!! Your bear hunting ability is nothing short of AMAZING!!!!! Huge congrats!

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The bear whisperer strikes again. Great job and congratulations on keeping the streak alive.

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Congrats but what's with the serial killer style photos? Scary grin and all

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Congrats but what's with the serial killer style photos? Scary grin and all

Thats called the Bad Mo Fo Bear Killer picture

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