Jun 08 2015
By Hugh Bevan
The month-long NW wind continued through the final three days of spring bear hunting so I took my spike camp gear back up to Otter Pee Island. There is a 200+ acre meadow there that is prime brown bear habitat this time of year, and the Island is about 2 miles downwind. It's a safe place to camp in grizzly bear country. The odds of a bear swimming 300 yards just to eat a skinny senior citizen are very low.
For the first time I can remember I did not see a male and female bear together this time of year. In fact last weekend I saw several adult sows without cubs which means they are probably available. Nor did I see any big males. The unusually warm spring seems to have altered the mating cycle, at least from my observations.
One evening a particularly nice female worked her way toward me, eating grass and tipping over rocks. Her winter fur was untouched by rubbing and the setting sun behind her created an aura of light around the complete animal, legs and all, where the sun shone through her guard hairs. Quite a spectacular sight.
In this photo you can get the idea,
but the effect was stronger looking through binoculars.
The second night I spotted the shoulder hump and butt of a darker bear using a spotting scope. I sneaked over there to get a closer look and found this adult male. He too had a perfect hide. I guessed him at 8 years old. Once I figured out he was not what I am looking for I sneaked back downwind. He never knew I was there.
Later this same male bear was walking down the creek.
One bank is about 6 feet higher than the other one and he was under the tall bank. He worked his way down to where 4 Sitka Blacktail deer were grazing. The deer were up on top of the bank and about 20 feet back from the edge. Neither the bear nor the deer were aware of each other. My eye was glued to the spotting scope. When the bear got directly below the deer he froze, lifting one paw like a Pointer dog and lifting his nose straight up in the air. Then he gathered his hind quarters under him and exploded up over the edge of the stream bank like a big cat.
He was in the middle of the deer before they knew what was happening. Three deer rocketed straight away but one ran at a 90 degree angle. The bear made an amazing right hand turn and just missed the hind end of the deer. As soon as he missed the deer the bear stopped, he did not pursue any of them.
It happened fast, scary fast. Within 5 minutes the deer and the bear had returned to eating grass like it never happened. The season ended with a nice sunset and I boated home this morning.