When black bears start rutting, the boars start cruising for sows. It’s a perfect time to hunt bears, who start rutting late May, early June. A cruising bear is a funny creature. He likes to cover a lot of ground, and in our country with such thick timber, the easiest way to do that is on old logging roads.
We first spotted Mac’s bear when we were coming out of a logging road we’d just went up. Whether we spooked him off the road the first time by, or whether he’d just started cruising it we didn’t know. It was a dandy though, you can just tell from their gait which waddles side to side on those big boars and a horseshoe shaped rear end. Judging this bear from the rear was all we had to go on too, as it was cruising away from us at a steady pace.
I didn’t want to jump the bear off the road so Mac and I barreled out of the truck and started walking after him. I grabbed the shooting sticks while Mac loaded, the bear was about 400 yards off. As we walked single file towards he bear, I realized we weren’t catching him, he was moving away from us as fast as we were moving towards him.
“We’re going to have to run to catch him Mac,” I told him and we started jogging down the middle of a gravel logging road towards the bear. “When we get up there, I’m going to whistle and the bear will turn broadside, that’s your shot.” We made it to about 250 yards when the bear heard us for the first time and turned around to look. I quickly set up the shooting sticks, but we were both breathing so heavy Mac couldn’t get a shot off. The bear turned away and started cruising again, completely unphased by our presence. By the time Mac had got his breathing under control the bear was 350 yards out again. I whistled and it turned around, but it was too far to shoot.
“Lets go again,” I said and we started running down the road.
Again the bear turned to look, we were a little closer this time, 200 yards, and again we set up and tried to shoot but by the time we were ready the bear had moved off to 300 yards. I whistled and he stopped, but still too far for Mac under these circumstances. This repeated itself two more times, all the while I’m thinking this bear will leave the road any minute and we’ve lost our chance. It certainly knew we were there, how long could this go on?
On the fifth go, I said, “We’ve just got to get lots closer to catch this bear.” And so run again we did, and by this time we’d run a full kilometer or better chasing this bear. This time, when he turned to look at us at about 200 yards, we stopped only long enough for him to turn back and start cruising again. We ran closer and closer, and he looked back again at 175 yards, 150 yards, 125 yards. I could tell the bear was getting nervous, so when we finally got within 100 yards, I set up and told Mac to shoot.
Now I can’t blame Mac, we’d just run several hundred yards in just a few minutes. He set up but his barrel was wobbling all over the place. I told him to calm down, steady his breathing, and tell me when he was ready and I’d give my whistle. The bear made it to 200 yards when Mac he told me he was ready, I whistled at the bear, it turned broadside briefly, and Mac finally pulled the trigger. One shot and the bear dove into the ditch where it expired. Exhausted, it took us longer to walk that last 200 yards to the bear than the entire running stalk had taken! Not very often you get to stalk a bear at a full run!