A damn big pile of sticks.
After getting shut out of bears last month, I figured it was worth another try. I saw one bear, the big chocolate griz that left the above tracks, but nothing of black bears besides tracks. Committing to shooting a bear back in the Bob means committing to a low percentage task: despite rumors to the contrary, there aren’t that many bears of either persuasion back there. I’ve seen quite a few over the years, but I can say that because those encounters stand out in memory. The math is probably one per 150-200 miles, or more. A methodical approach with lots of glassing will only improve that so much.
I came around a hill mid-morning to a lush, semi-flooded meadow next to the river. Perfect spot for a bear, I thought. Hey, that big dark lump is too rounded to be a stump, I thought immediately after. Sure enough, a huge (for the Bob) Griz, getting grass, digging for ground squirrels, blowing bubbles in ponds (not really, but it looked it that). I climbed the hill a bit and watched him for a while before the wind shifted and he took off up the ridge.
I caught up with where he’d been later that day. He came down out of the alpine on this trail, shortcutted up a hill, then down the other side to swim the raging creek and end up where I saw him that morning. The creeks are very high right now; by early September the above one will be totally dry, if the past is any guide.
My new rifle carry innovation. The Kifaru Gunbearer puts too much weight on one shoulder strap. With this thing, the barrel, scope, and action are covered, and you can draw it fast by releasing the buckle and sliding it down and out. Bonus, said buckle allows for around 5 inches of height adjustment on the fly; lower it to clear brush, cinch it back up so you can set your pack down without messing with your rifle. All one-handed.
So a fun few days in the woods, ~45 miles walked, and one bear (of the “wrong” species): I’d call that pretty good.