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mpol777
10-08-2006, 11:34
Bear season was short this year. It opened Friday and I closed it for me on Saturday.

Friday was kind of a mess, which is pretty normal. :) We got out a bit late, the wind was rolling hard, one of my buddies got seperated from us which split our pack up a bit, I fell and mashed my knee on a rock... all in all another wonderful hunt in the Chiricahuas.

The dogs did hit on a ringtail cat that day. Unfortunately it went into a log instead of up a tree. Via con dios.

That evening after we all got back I got a call on a lion sighting right near my house. We thought about packing up there, but it was late, we were tired and it was raining. We were adding another hunter to the party on Saturday, so me and my one friend would take the lion strike dog and a couple other hounds, check out the lion track in the morning and hit the south side of a particular canyon, while the other 2 started on the north end of that part of the range.

We got to the sighting around 4am and let the strike dog out. We didn't even unload the others or the horses. He didn't hit, so we went on. We started riding in when the sun was about 30 minutes up. We figured the other two were about an hour ahead of us, we'd meet up at a tank where the canyon's connected and continue up together. About 30 minutes later the sky opened up and the wind started to roll. Visibility was about 75 yards. We hunked under a tree with the dogs and waited it out. Storms usually roll quickly out here. It slowed and we pressed on, then it opened again. A couple glass hunters were leaving, "Rained out". Which was probably good for them, because they seemed unprepared if they would have gotten something.

We sat for a bit and ate some burritos cogitating on the situation. The rain had wiped out any scent from the night before by then and the day was looking poor. But we were already out there and cold and wet, so might as well keep going. We rode up to the tank and no sign of the other 2. We thought they might have hit early and after screwing around a bit, we headed up that canyon to maybe meet them.

About a mile up the canyon a dog struck hard and 2 hoonored. We crashed through, up the bottom at a high trot, when possible, for about 5 miles. My buddy spotted a bear running up a slide on the wall face about 2000ft up. The dogs were still hitting and heading north. The bear was near the rim, but appeared to be heading south. The dogs ran another 10 minutes or so north, then up the canyon wall and right in line with the bear. It was near perfect, except for one out. The bear had notch it could pass up and over, but if it stayed just off the rim it would get forced down because the face got completely vertical.

Another 5 miles at high trot back down the canyon and about 4 miles, you could smell the bear. No tracks in the creek, but we weren't stopping to look and knew it was down. Another mile and we heard a little ground fighting and I saw the bear tree. The perfect tree too. About 30 yards off the creek. We puddled around a bit. My buddy covered while I snapped a few pictures, then I covered while he took some and a little video.

A small bear, but a nice brown back. It scurried up a bit more and gave a nice center chest shot. I figured what the hell and knocked it. Dead before it hit the ground and that was only about 20 ft. The dogs were very happy and so were we.

It was an old sow. Very old sow. At least in her teens, but she'll eat. Weight was around the 200lb mark. Maybe a bit under. Teeth were pretty worn.

Spent the next hour or so, skinning and gutting. It was still pretty cool and we figured with the skin off we could get the meat our without it spoiling. One thing we found when we opened her up was a huge cancer. About the size of a man's head. Attached right above where the heart used to be and the top of the lungs. That old girl probably wouldn't have made it through this winter. The other glands looked right and no worries on the meat.

We loaded up the package and it took about an hour and a half to walk out to the truck. That's why I said those glass hunters were unprepared. Just looking at their outfit, they had rifles, binos and small daypacks. They'd have a rough time getting out a small bear, let alone a big one. If it took us an hour and a half with horses carrying the load, imagine what it would take humping a couple hundred extra pounds. They didn't go in as far of course, but still.

We dropped the meat off with my buddy's dad for butchering and took to working on the hide. Got it fleshed and the first salt on by 7pm.

The other two had no luck and had pulled out. They got caught in the storm when in a saddle and no protection from the rain. On top of that the one guy didn't bring rain gear. *doh* So instead of hypothermia, they packed out.

In the end, a small bear, but this will be a year of small bears. The rain we had this year was good, but it was late and the berries didn't fully develop. The grass is large, but that doesn't make big bears. They need the sugar. Manzanita and juniper here. Of course there's going to be some big one's in there. There always is, but I bet most come in small this year.

As for the gun, 10mm g29 with a 180gr XTP. No recovery, but the bullet did a strange thing. It kind of arced through the chest for about 4" then back out. Best we could figure was the pressure in the chest cavity because of the cancer and the angle. Still bew out the heart and ruptured the front of the lungs.

Pictures to follow

mpol777
10-08-2006, 11:42
Friday

View across a few canyons.
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG0993.jpg

Happy dogs
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG0995.jpg

VERY happy dogs and a very unhappy ringtail
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG0996.jpg

Saturday

Running water in the bottom
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG0998.jpg

Bear in a tree
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG1004.jpg

Bear out of a tree
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG1009.jpg

Bear on the ground
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG1012.jpg

All packed and ready to go
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG1016.jpg
http://www.reloadpress.com/images/100806/images/CIMG1017.jpg

noway
10-08-2006, 17:20
Nice story great photos. One question what type of dogs is that grey/black one and do you normally run that many dogs for one bear?

Also excuse my ignorance, but what the hell is a "lion strike dog"
?

major
10-08-2006, 17:24
Wow, I always love your posts! Thanks SO MUCH for sharing the hunt with us.

mpol777
10-09-2006, 10:57
Noway, The black and gray dogs are blue ticks, the white and brown is a walker, the brown and black in the first pictures are airedales and in the Saturday pictures that's a bloodhound. And of course Miss Rosie the JRT.

The pack on Saturday was actually a little small, but with the dogs being used it was OK. It's not enough to just chase the bear or lion, but force it to tree and then hold it. Some hounds will only sit on a tree for a couple minutes. Then their satisfied and go off to chase something else. That's where terriers come in. They'll sit on a tree for days if necessary.

We got very lucky with where the bear treed. It could have stopped way up at the top. With the dogs we had that could have been trouble. If the bear has enough time to catch its breath it can climb down and run again. And keep doing that over many, many, many miles.

A 'strike dog' is the lead dog in a pack. Poncho, one of the blue ticks, is a made lion dog out of Utah. He won't open on anything but a lion and he knows his job. So when running you want your strike dog out in front and the rest of the pack mobbed up near you. If the strike dog opens, the others will run out and then honor the strike if it's good.

On this one Johnny Rotten opened and the rest honored straight off. They trailed for probably close to 12 miles from where they picked it up in the bottom, down, up and then back again. Since this bear was pretty old it didn't run nearly as far as some. 20 plus miles isn't uncommon depending on the terrain.

It's a hell of a lot of fun hunting this way and is some of the hardest hunting around IMHO. The country is rough, the riding is hard, the miles are long and once those dogs hit there's no backing out. If they run up through the gates of hell that's where you're going. My buddy quit guiding for bear except with friends and people he knows for that reason. Too many folks coming out and quitting the hunt.

noway
10-09-2006, 11:30
Ah different terms for various parts of the nation. Good definition and man I guess I never seen a blue tick hound before . The ones I've seen had brown along with the black iirc. More so in the front shanks and muzzle areas.

Going back and restudying the pictures I think I see the brown buts not as strong as what I used to have seen. Either way good story and let us know how that bear comes out. I'm curious as to iff you will have it all grounded up or make select cuts?

nickE10mm
10-09-2006, 13:15
Great story mpol777! Also, the pictures were very good. Thanks for sharing! (btw, 10mm for the bear, eh?) :D

Los Suenos
10-09-2006, 17:48
What beautiful dogs you have. That's how it's done. Great job! Is it always that green there or is it from the wet weather you've had?

mpol777
10-10-2006, 10:10
My buddies went out Sunday and caught a toad of a bear. If there was a place to wager I'd say it will be the biggest to come out of this area this year. Easy 400lbs, which is very large around here. Day late and a dollar short for me, but it couldn't have happened to nicer folks.

http://www.coyotegods.com/oackcreekairedales.jpg


Los Suenos, We did have a mess of rain this summer and it's still raining some. Most of what you see that's green though is like that even in drier years around this time. The mountains hold water for quite some time. If these rains keep up off an on through the winter, there will be some 500 pounders up there this time next year.

Noway, The dog in the 7th picture has almost no brown. Just a touch and all of his siblings and parents and cousins are like that too. The other, from different lines, has a lot more on his head and bottoms of his legs. That first dog was bred to a walker this past year and the pup that came out blue doesn't have a spot of brown on him.

I think after a while of being across the country folks mix their dogs up with other regional favorites and colorings follow those lines so 2 dogs of the same breeed can look very different. Airedales are a lot like that. I can pick out dogs from particular lines a lot of times. Especially with the difference in the slickcoats and the wooly versions.

noway
10-10-2006, 10:16
thanks and once again a nice photo. I

CSNeoM4A1
10-10-2006, 10:24
Nice story and awesome pics!

Glocktex
10-10-2006, 10:31
great looking huntin' buddies you have there. The bear is excellent! Gives me the fever to want to go again.

Congrats! :cheers:

Wolfe
10-10-2006, 22:32
Very cool, Wish we could still hunt with dogs here, but the liberals have decided the dogs don't like it. Wonder how many good dogs were put down for no longer having a job. Congrats on he bear!

Sharker
10-11-2006, 11:23
Great story and pics. Thanks, it helps with the dole drums of the work week.

aguyindallas
10-15-2006, 11:10
Where did this hunt take place?

mpol777
10-15-2006, 11:21
Originally posted by aguyindallas
Where did this hunt take place?

Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern AZ.

nickE10mm
10-15-2006, 11:59
Just curious....was your XTP a handload or a commercial loading?

Thanks!

aguyindallas
10-15-2006, 14:57
Originally posted by mpol777
Chiricahua Mountains in Southeastern AZ.

My parents live on Hwy 92 in Hereford/Bisbee area...how far away is that from them?

mpol777
10-16-2006, 22:23
nickE,

I shoot handloads pretty much exclusively. Not as hot as the DT load, but it's on the hotter side.

aguyindallas,

Your folks are 40-50 miles west of the range depending where on 92 they call home. The funny thing there is access. A lot of ranchers own the land in front of the NF. By law they can't block access, but they see it different and there's really nobody around to force them to change. So a lot of places are cut off to the general public. Which works for me since I spend a lot of time with these folks and can generally get access a lot of folks can't. I'm sure it seems a little unfair to the fellas who drive down from the city, but that's the game anymore.