by Andrew Gamble
I went to Winthrop, Wash., for the September opener for archery deer and bought a bear tag as well because my hunting partner, Travis, had said there was a good chance to see bears there.
So I was not too surprised that Wednesday evening when a very pretty color-phase chocolate black bear decided to step into the small clearing I was hunting.
Immediately I was struck by how much his fur resembled the Alaskan brown bears I’ve seen while fishing the Kenai in Alaska, and I knew I wanted him.
He stepped closer to my shooting lane and stood up behind the brush scanning the clearing, but I had no shot. I waited for him to move; finally, he seemed satisfied and dropped back to all fours.
I drew my bow while he was behind the cover and waited. After what seemed like minutes (but probably just 10 seconds) he took that last step, offering me the perfect broadside shot at 18 yards.
There was no hesitation as I released the arrow. It flew true to the mark just behind the front shoulder. He ran toward my tree and turned slightly at the last second as I mechanically and carefully nocked an arrow for a follow-up shot. He stopped just 10 yards beyond me and started wobbling.
I was elated as he toppled over! I had just harvested my first bear! I judged his size based on the fact he had big fuzzy ears — every TV show says this is a sign of a younger bear.
I packed my gear then approached the spot where I saw the bear fall. I was shocked at the sheer size of the massive beast I found!
I texted Travis, “Big Big Bear” and that I needed help! He replied, “On my way.”
It was nearly midnight before we got him back to the truck. The bear was over 500 pounds, as estimated by wild game butcher, Todd Crabtree.
The skull green score was exactly 20 inches, and the bear measured 6-foot-9.75 tall.