Ahh, nothin' gets me in the mood to stomp the laurel than a good bear huntin' story.
I also stumbled upon some tips and facts whilst I was beatin' around the interwebs.
When one hunting season ends, my brain automatically shifts gears and starts mentally preparing for the next season. When the sun set on the early archery deer season this past Saturday, I was already starting to get geared up for this coming Saturday, the first day of the rifle season for bear.
For those that haven't done it, bear hunting can be one of the most physically demanding days afield. Some people have been known to climb onto their stump in the dark and sit there all day. My friend never hesitates to rub it in that two of the last three years, he's shot his bear from a treestand about 300 yards away from his camp. Not us, though.
I started goin' up to Bear Camp with the ol' man five or six years ago. I wasn't sure what to expect, but as I stumbled my way into the truck for the ride home on Tuesday after two hard days of hunting, I knew I'd be damn sure prepared for next year.
Our group puts on drives... That's just what they've always done. A group will head out one direction in a truck and start dropping off watchers, and a gang of pushers will jump in another truck and head the other direction. The pushes are usually a mile or so across a mountain face, so you're walking at a downhill slant the whole time. Not only that, but once ya get into the laurel thickets, you're forced to either squirm across the ground like a snake or climb over it like a monkey. Another joy are the low swamps that are clogged with thorn and thistle bushes, or areas known as slashings that are basically hundreds of thousands of saplings growing in very close proximity. Good drivers get into the thickest stuff they can find and plow their way through it, knowing that they won't get a shot themselves but they might push a bruin past other drivers or to the watchers.
By the time four or five drives have been done that first day, it's well into the afternoon and everyone's pretty much bushed. When ya wake up the next morning, your body lets you know that you know you got a good workout the day before. It's rough enough that I don't even put my good deer rifle in the truck to make the trip anymore. It just takes too much of a beatin'. I strap on a Ruger .357 Security Six when I'm pushing and I have a beat-up ol' Winchester 94 30-30 to haul around when I'm watchin'.
It's a lot of work, but it's worth it when you have the whole group gather around that big ol' bruin that didn't manage to elude us.