We were supposed to be scouting for deer. I had slept in. Luke was late. Fortunately it always seems to me that when things go wrong, something is bound to go right. When Luke showed up we arranged our gear in his jeep and went on our way. We hadn't driven far when we almost hit a bear. It was down on the road eating berries and, startled by the jeep, ran out in front of us. It ran up the hill about 20 feet and just stood there watching us. I had a tag, I even had my rifle, but I had left my box of .270 ammo in my truck. It was too close to the road anyway. If I was going to shoot it, I wanted to set up on it and call it in, as opposed to just getting lucky.
We watched it slowly meander up the hill from us for about half an hour before it disappeared. We then continued on our mission to do some scouting. We were far too distracted and we weren't scouting long before we decided that we ought to try to set up on that bear and call it in. We drove back to camp and got the .270 ammo I had left behind.
When we returned to the area where we had seen the bear we were debating where to set up, and then we saw it again. Right next to the road. Damn it. This is not how I wanted to hunt it. We quickly formed a plan to chase it up the hill and then see if we could call it back to us. This tactic would never work on a deer, or a turkey... but bears are notoriously curious, so I figured it was worth a shot. We hurriedly grabbed our gear, I only managed to put two rounds in my rifle, the last 2 rounds of .270 leftover from a box of ammo my grandfather gave me when he gave me the rifle.
The bear ran uphill so effortlessly that I felt like we must have chased it out of the damn county. We hiked up about 200 yards and found a place in some cover to sit down and call. Where we set up was a poor choice; we should have set up to call in the open so we could see our surroundings. Neither of us had much camouflage on though, so the cover it was.
I have been calling turkeys with my voice for a few years and it has yielded success for us at times when other calls seemed ineffective. One year while turkey hunting we saw several bears in a weekend, on a whim I decided to try my voice out on a distress call, to see if that bear would come any closer. It worked for a while. The bear wandered up out of the creek bed toward us for a while and then seemingly for no reason disappeared back down toward the creek. Before leaving I went to see if I could tell where it had gone. I didn't walk 10 feet when I saw the bear. It had triangulated our position and was sneaking up on us. It stood on its hind legs, and I drew my sidearm. I yelled at it to get out of here. It puts its ears back like a whipped dog and went back down toward the creek.
So my calling bears is not a completely new experience, but at least this time I had a tag. I must have called for about 45 minutes, my voice was tired and I was about to give up. Next thing I knew Luke was excitedly whispering that it was "right there"... I looked on the other side of the tree to my right and this bear was less than 15 feet from me. It had triangulated our position, just like the bear I had called in a few years prior, snuck back downhill in the brush and was walking right at us. I hesitated, I was contemplating using my sidearm instead of my rifle, as close as I was. But in that moment of hesitation it either caught wind of us or saw some movement and bolted 20 yards up the hill.
I stepped out from our area of cover to see if I could get a shot. I found the bear in my crosshairs. Then I hesitated again. I remember shooting my first deer. I remember seeing the light go out of its eyes. There is something different taking down an animal of that size in comparison to bird hunting or small game hunting... And there is something very different about shooting a bear from a deer. I thought of my family and thought of the meat I would be able to put on our table by taking this animal's life. I put the crosshairs back on the bear's chest. It was facing me. I squeezed the trigger. It's heart must have stopped instantly. My grandfather's bullet had done its job and I could not have made a better shot. It rolled down the hill about 30 yards. When we got to it I took a minute to give thanks before packing it out.