Last year in September a trip was made to hunt black bear with my favorite outfitter, Bob Barlow, owner of Barlow Outfitters. Bob operates on the western side of the Tetons just south of Yellowstone. You can see the back side of the Grand Tetons rising high above you as you make your way into the mountains.
|The back side of the Grand Tetons. Right below sits Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The scenery cannot get more spectacular.|
One of the best things I like about hunting with Bob is Bob himself. I just had a really great time and have never found a person more accommodating. I had the option of the four walled tent in the wilderness or staying at the Teton Mountain Lodge in Tetonia, Idaho. ( http://www.tetonlodge.com/) For me camping out is fine, but at my age, I like the lodge.
|My favorite outfitter. I have never had so much fun hunting with anybody as I had with Bob. Plus the service was great.|
The owner bakes some of the finest cinnamon rolls for breakfast that I have ever eaten. Plus, there is nothing like having a shower every evening after a day in the mountains and sitting down to a good meal in the evening. Bob keeps his horses corralled at the lodge. They are trailored to a trail head where you ride off into the scenery and the beauty of the mountains. If you are elk hunting breakfast comes really early, but if you like a really gradual pace, then a bear trip is slow and easy.
|Teton Mountain View Lodge|
We left the lodge at a leisurely pace and roamed around in the mountains looking for berry patches and other bear signs we could find. This is the advantage of hunting with Bob Barlow. He operates trail rides during the summer months. He and his guides are in the mountains daily and in some cases overnight. Here he is able to survey the landscape and see where the animals are roaming.
We started out late in the morning or early afternoon and went right to areas where bear have been spotted or bear signs were frequently observed.
|One of the spots where I hid. That is the tip of the gun barrel sticking up. Here I pushed myself back in among the trees and fallen timber and waited patiently. I am looking straight west.|
We moved around the mountains on the edge of meadows and in the timber wherever bear or signs had been spotted in the past. On the third day around 3 PM, I was perched on the side of a mountain looking down into a berry patch. The foliage was really thick and you could not see the stream at the bottom of the valley. Bob had gone back to the horses to make some phone calls and I was comfortable by myself. The wind was in my face and I soon began developing a sore posterior sitting on the rocks. Next time I would bring a pad. Standing up, I positioned about half my body behind a small tree and leaned the rifle up against it. It was way more comfortable standing than sitting on the rocks. The wind was in my face and the sun was behind me. It was a beautiful afternoon and the weather could not have been better.
It is amazing in the Tetons that you can get phone service in some locations. I called my wife. I did not talk loudly but whispered into the phone. She understood and was filled in on where I was standing. All of a sudden 75 yards down below me, a black head stuck itself out from behind a bush. I whispered to Pam and said,”there’s a bear”. With that, the phone was very slowly closed and dropped into my pocket. Next my right hand gripped the rifle. The bear moved out from behind the bush. He was big. He took a few steps then stopped and turned his head toward me. It was plain to see he wanted to head for the berries. Each time he put his head down and took a few steps, the rifle was brought up very slowly. Two to three steps and he would stop and look back up the mountain. During these two to three steps, the rifle came up until it was laid across a limb right in front of me. Two to three steps forward and my cheek was slowly lowered onto the stock and the cross hairs on the scope were placed on the sweet spot. I was now ready. He took a couple of more steps, stopped and looked back up the mountain. At that moment the round was sent on it’s way.
|Just below the pine tree he stuck his head out from behind the bushes down the mountain and stared up at me. It was believed he sensed something was up there but could not be sure what it was. The berry patches are along the lower tree line.|
Boom! He jumped off a rock ledge and I thought at first I had missed. My mind was racing with how could I have missed such an easy shot. The distance was only 80 yards and the animal was a really nice big boy.
Bob heard the shot and came running. I pointed to where he had disappeared into the brush. I followed Bob down the mountain, but I cannot keep up with the people who live and walk in this type of terrain and altitude. He was down the mountain before I got halfway down and announced, “The bear is right here on the edge of the foliage.” “Congratulations, you are now a bear hunter.”
|My first Black Bear|
We skinned him out and the hide was hauled up the mountain. Checking in the next morning with the Fish and Game office in Jackson was interesting. A Warden with the State of Wyoming came and pulled a tooth and clipped a piece of hair. These samples were then sent away to be tested for age and other things that the state wants to know about their bear populations. Several months ago, I received a postcard that stated the bear was 11.5 years old.
It has taken a long time to get him back. The taxidermist called and said he was in town after being tanned. Upon examination, it was amazing how soft the hair was and how pliable the hide had become. It also looked like he had shrunk a little. The head will now be completed and the hide will be shipped off to have the backing sewn on. Then he will make our home his home as a bed spread in the guest bedroom.
Fall is just around the corner, and I will be calling to Bob Barlow to see if he has an opening for another bear hunt.