Manitoba Bear Camp—One of the clients in camp has been spotting a decent sized color phase bear. Blond back, cinnamon arms and a brown head – a truly stuning bear. However, he is looking for a bigger bear—regardless of color phase.
I have been fortunate enough to shoot some large black bears, but never a color phase. Talking it over after dinner one night he offered up his stand. The bear was coming in like clockwork, but no other bears were, so he wanted to change locations. I jumped at the opportunity. The bear was coming in relatively early between 5 and 6 so I had Colleen (co-owner of the Agassiz-Waterhen lodge) drop me off shortly after 2 pm just so I would be in position well ahead of time.
I’m glad I did as I had barely got settled when I looked up and the bear was sitting by the bait pile. It had just turned four o’clock. Quickly getting my rifle in position, I centered up the Ziess Z-point red dot on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger – the 350 grain Buffalo Bore .45-70 load parked him right on the spot and drove through both front shoulders. However, I didn’t cycle the action becuase I didn’t want to alert the bear to my exact location. Like I have seen with nearly every bear I have ever shot, a couple of second passed and he bounced up like a rubber ball and took off on a dead run. Luckily, since he didn’t know exactly where I was, he came right down the path toward the stand allowing me to get a good follow up shot.
While it was probably unnecessary I don’t like tracking bears so I quickly put two more slugs into him and dropped him for good. With seven hours until dark, I had a choice to make – I could either sit in the stand swat mosquitoes or I could walk back to the main road and follow it to the lodge. I guestimated the lodge was probably 6 miles away. That’s a brisk two hour walk and I would be back a little after 6pm – maybe earlier if I could thumb a ride. I made it to the main road in 45 minutes or so and I was in luck—there was some sporadic traffic. However, something about the sight of a guy in camo carrying a large bore lever gun in one hand and sticking his thumb out with the other doesn’t put motorists at ease. While it draws a lot of looks it doesn’t garner a lot of free rides. Finally when I was about a quarter of a mile from the lodge I heard a truck grinding down through the gears behind me, I turned around to see a septic pump truck coming to a stop. The driver shouted out the window, “You going to Agassi Waterhen Lodge?” “Yup” I replied. “Figured as much with the rifle and all, I’m going there to pump their septic tank, want a lift?” Of course I did and the look on the Collenn’s face when I pulled up in a sepric truck was worth it by itself.