Chasing Spring Bear

by Matt Thomsen on May 19, 2011

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I had to admit, the plan had definite appeal.  The old logging road would provide a high ground vantage point overlooking the dense forests of southeast Lane County.   A fifty yard section of road provided several viewpoints from which a number of grass-covered openings could be glassed.  Suffering from perpetual sleep deprivation (as most who work graveyard shift do), I was happy to hear Scott utter, “We don’t have to be out there too early.”  Perfect.

South Lane Vantages

The plan was simple.   We would park the truck at the top of the road.  Packing binoculars, we would walk a stretch of the road, pausing to glass the various openings for signs of feeding bruins. 

Easy Going

In the event a decent bear was spotted, Scott and I would drop down the opposite side of the bluff and blaze a trail to an old, gated logging road which wound back up the center of the opposite face.  As luck would have it, this same road would provide ease of access to any of the openings in which a bear might be glassed.

Scott's Diligence

We hit the landing a bit after dawn.  Visibility, unlike the previous trip, was excellent.  The haze customary to the area had burned off with the last remnants of darkness.  Scott and I spent the better part of the morning hours glassing, moving, and glassing some more.   Scott proved to be a bit more patient than I and maintained strict adherence to the plan.  My self-diagnosed ADHD manifested by 10AM, resulting in a pause from glassing and a bit of pyromania.

Scott was the first to sound the alarm, hoarsely whispering, “I’ve got one.”  He did indeed.  My Leupold 8×32 Gold Ring binoculars brought the bruin into closer scrutiny, but they were far from necessary.  Even across the vast expanse, it was clearly a big bear. 

As the bear slowly fed through one of the open clearings, old problems were replaced with new.  While we were relatively sure we knew how to get to the bruin, a work meeting scheduled later the same day was likely to cut into much needed hiking, shooting, skinning, and packing time.  However, being loathe to pass a rare opportunity at a great bear, the dice were rolled and quickly Scott and I found ourselves racing downhill toward that old logging road and chance at a bragging rights, a nice rug, and a punched tag. 

Southern Lane Skyline

A combination of misfortunes resulted an all-for-naught effort.  The view of the logging road afforded from our perch kept hidden more than a couple of forks.  As a result, a fair amount of time and boot leather was burned retracing our steps from unfamiliar road to the right track.  A completely uphill climb out of the area promised a much longer hike out than in.  And while Scott and I were able to get within stalking distance of the clearing in which the bear meandered, lack of time finally caught up with us.  Common sense was afforded its weighted opinion and, given the likelihood of finding the same bear in relative proximity the next time, we opted to begin the track out rather than rush the stalk and possibly spook the bruin away.

A long, hurried (and sweaty) hike out and a quiet drive back brought us out of hunting country and back to daily life.  Though most of our hunts involve half-day drives, miles of burned boot leather, and trailers full of camping gear, it was still a welcome respite to spend even a half-day away from the grind.  Time spent afield is time well spent, regardless of its duration.

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