by: Aimee Burnett-Hartwig, Mafia Outdoors T.V. Staff
Hunting black bears in the Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite hunts each year. It’s always an incredible adventure. Hours spent in the woods, hiking miles at a time, immersed in nature, glassing sprawling hillsides, covered in green grass, taking in all the beauty and wonder. All the while looking for dark spots that could appear at any moment. And, when a bear does show up it often seems as if it’s out of thin air.
After 6 miles of hiking and more than 10 hours scanning the hillsides, I spotted a bear in the bottom of a canyon. It was a canyon we had said earlier in the day looked like there should be a bear living in it. I ranged the bear at 350 yards. Not a hard shot with my .270, but I knew I could get closer. I quickly made my way down the ridge line hoping he’d still be there when I did.
The terrain was rough and uneven. Someone had logged it several years back and old downed trees were hidden in the tall spring grass. As I maneuvered down the hill I kept checking to see that the bear was still in view. He disappeared briefly as he fed behind a blackberry bush. It was a perfect time to move into position. I was exhausted and winded from the intense terrain. I made my way to a tree stump that would make a good rest and allow me to recover my breathing a bit. I ranged the bear at 150 yards, loaded a round into the chamber and found my mark just behind his shoulder. I squeezed the trigger. The bear spun around and headed for the thick brush at the edge of the canyon. He spun around and looked back as he hit the edge. It gave me just enough time to reload and put another round into him. My first Oregon black bear tag was punched.
Oregon is home to about 25 to 30 thousand black bears. Populations in the southwest region are high, and have been on the rise over the last few years. Bear reporting is mandatory in Oregon. Biologists use the information to complete their studies.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists extract a tooth from each bear and send it off to a lab to be analyzed. It will help determine the age of the bear and whether it’s been feeding on bait sites biologists put out to monitor bear movement.