2014 AZ Archery 'Spring' Bear

In my last post, I'd taken my son scouting for the archery spring bear tag I had drawn.  I planned on getting out in May or June to hunt, but never made the time and wasn't able to get out until July.  I was able to get out one morning over the 4th of July weekend with my friend David, and we managed to glass up 3 bears that morning, one of them being a big, black one that was in a stalkable position.

As soon as I started making my way down to the bear, he started moving off, and knowing I wouldn't be able to catch up to him, I watched him make his way to thick cover as the sun started beating down on him.

Then, I firmed up plans to get a team of guys together and head back up in a couple of weeks to try and kill a bear with my bow.  My biggest fear was that the sow quota would be filled, and the unit would close before I got back up there.

With a very capable support and glassing team consisting of David, Curt, Dusty, and my dad, a plan was formulated for the weekend.  The plan was to get high and glass down below us for a bear, and I'd drop down as soon as one was spotted.  We set up in the same spot David and I had found the bear over the 4th of July weekend, and within 20 minutes of glassing, David found the bear again, not 200 yards from where we saw it 2 weeks before.

I immediately started heading down towards the bear.  It was steeper and slower going than I expected.  When I got within a couple of hundred yards of the bear, I was really worried about the wind.  I knew if he got a whiff of me he'd be gone.  The wind hadn't settled into its normal south-westerly direction, and kept shifting, so I decided to just head right for the bear.

When I started down, the bear was moving away from me, but at some point he turned and started feeding back towards me.  When I got to 90 yards, I dropped my pack, and luckily had a good elk trail to follow through the thick brush towards the bear.  I closed the distance to 50 yards and held up, as the bear was feeding on some berry bushes just inside the cover.  If he stepped forward a couple of steps, he'd be right at 50 yards.  If he kept walking, he'd just come closer, so I held up where I was.  If he turned and went away from me, I wouldn't have a shot anyways due to the thick cover.

I saw him pick up his head and start to take a step, so I drew my bow. He stepped into the open, and then immediately turned 180 degrees.  As he stood there, I had my 50 yard pin hovering on his vitals, so I went ahead and released the arrow.  I was very happy when I saw it strike the bear mid rib cage and the bear tore off with my arrow and green and white fletchings sticking out of him!

The bear crashed through the thick brush and, as he was going uphill, he tumbled over backwards and came to a stop.  He'd only gone about 60 yards before he died.  I was amazed it had gone so well.  The bear was spotted about 5:20 a.m., and I shot him at 7 a.m.  As I circled around the thick cover and approached the downed bear from slightly above, I saw a black log I had seen the bear crash behind from where I shot.  I approached the log and expected him to be behind it, but was very surprised when I took another step and he suddenly appeared behind a small bush right in front of me.  Even though he was very dead, I think I jumped a whole step backwards, which the guys watching from above found very funny!

Curt then headed down to me while David and Dusty took my truck and Dusty's truck back to another road that we could extract the bear out on a little easier.  We were blessed with cloud cover while we skinned and quartered the bear.  The sun didn't come out until we shouldered our heavy packs.

The head and hide loaded up in my Mystery Ranch Metcalf pack

Curt, David, and I.  Dusty had gone on ahead of us and missed out on the group picture...

I'm very fortunate to have good friends that helped me get the bear out in a timely manner.  The pack out was much easier with the bear split up between the four of us.  It would have been very difficult to have done it by myself.  When I checked the bear in, we aged him in the 4-7 year old age bracket, and I'm guessing he was probably 5-6 years old.  His face was pretty scarred up.  This will be a hunt I'll always remember!


  1. This is such an informative post. You have a lot of really great points. I wish I had this post as a resource when I started blogging.
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