Contributors to this thread:
OUR 2017 Idaho Bear Hunt
I did a thread last year titled "My Idaho Bear Hunt". I'm following up with this years tale. Took me a bit to get er done last year but learned a lot from HUNT and was able to finally connect on the last weekend after making 6 trips over there. Whoever said baiting bears is easy hasn't done it. Anyways, I was hooked last year and as soon as it ended I started planning for this year and trying to figure out what I could do better. This year had a different goal in place. I have 4 boys and two of them turned 10 recently, ID allows them an opportunity to hunt under the mentor program. The goal was to get one of them a bear and hopefully have a few encounters at close range for both of them. I figured if we could accomplish that it would be a huge success. They both helped on the baits last year and did some sits with me (we never saw a bear together on any of them) so I really just wanted to continue to spend time in the woods with them, learn some more together and hopefully get to see some bears. Plus, springtime hunting means I get to spend some time with Hunt and that's something I look forward to. This is OUR hunt now, not just mine anymore. I have a few years of playing guide ahead of me and my killing opportunities will be less and less and all of my boys grow older. I knew this day was coming and can't believe it's arrived. Honestly, selfishly I was a little worried about its arrival. Now that it has come............There is NOTHING better. Being with my kids for these hunts is what it's all about. Time in the woods with your boys can't be bought and memories can't be replaced. This is it. It's go time and we're gonna enjoy it.
( The twins are only pulling 30lbs on their bows so they were hunting with shotgun and rifle. You've been warned. There are guns involved on this hunt. Don't follow if you don't like)
We have about a 4 1/2 hour drive to the bait so when we go, we HAVE to put a LOT of food out. This was a lesson learned the hard way last year. It got me again this year towards the end.
Popcorn is great for us. Light weight so a ten year old can pack it in easy. I'm hoping I can find a way to get a bunch more of this for next year.
For some reason I really enjoy the baiting process. Love checking the cams and seeing whats been on there and getting them to come in is a blast. I just enjoy the whole aspect of it I guess. Other then the long drive. The boys have fun with it too. Here they are making a little bear crack for a burn. I gotta keep an eye on those two goofballs or they will eat all the bait before the bears get a chance!
May take me a couple days to get this all posted. I gotta get to work!
We head back over the following weekend after setting up the bait. Mason gets first crack since Smitty killed a turkey a few weeks back. Mason and I crawl up the tree early and sit tell dark. We don't see anything. Uh, oh I'm thinking this is feeling like a repeat of last year. Smitty is up the next night.
Since Smitty got his turkey and Mason didn't....I had a feeling he was gonna see a bear that night. The twins are very competitive with each other and I know Mason was happy for him to get that bird.....but it was gonna be rough if he killed a bear too. We borrowed a Shotgun from HUNT and slipped some slugs in. The boys shot it the week before and she's dialed. I'm a little concerned how the nerves will be on a 10 year old with a bear at 17 yards but we'll see what happens.
Well sure enough, I look up and theres a bear at the bait. Smitty is playing games on my phone and doesn't see it. I'm able to get his attention away from the phone and it's game on! He waits for a good shot and when that bear quartered away, he dropped the hammer!! Looks like a good shot but hard to tell with the boomstick. The bear got knocked into the barrel then turns and runs under our tree and out of sight. The look on Smiths face was priceless. I'll never forget it. He sits down in the tree and starts shaking! I don't know too many 10 year olds that have killed a bear so I can't imagine what's going though his head.
I think it's a good hit. We wait 30 mins and slip down for a look. I figured we'd go to where we last saw him and if he isn't within site we'll come back in the morning. Really don't want to lose this bear. Very little blood and it's starting to rain. We get to where he last was and aint nothing there. We roll out.
We head to the Lodge to use the phone and call HUNT. He knows what that number on his phone at 9:30 means. Only 4 mins to talk so I fill him in and he doesn't like it. He don't say it but I can tell. He knows, if a bear is smoked they are dead within 30-60 yards. We went about 50 yards and its a damn jungle up there. Tells me to grid it in the morning. We have to head back the next day so we go in to re fill the bait and recover Smiths bear. We grid hard and spend all morning looking. No luck. I'm a little surprised but I've lost a couple bears and know it happens. Just didn't want to lose his first. We covered the steep and thick as best as we could but couldn't turn him up. Smitty is bummed. Opportunity is hard to come by especially when you have share time on stand with your brother and only have the weekends to make it happen. Mason is up next weekend.
Mason wore his teddy roosevelt hat for good luck on the baiting.
Mason wore his teddy roosevelt hat for good luck on the baiting.
Mason and I roll out of Bozeman the following Friday. We hook up with HUNT and his buddy TJ where we go help him with a couple baits he's getting going for those crazy NEB boys. We check our bait first and refill it. It's hammered. I suck with game cams so no pics. Really frustrated about that but we like our odds. Theres good activity.
Great post! I am very fortunate to have a dad and older brothers that got me into hunting. Glad to see you spending time with your kids and getting them involved. Looking forward to the rest of this story!
Great thread Dad! Looking forward to the rest of the story & pics.
My buddy sawdog on his first bear sit.
My buddy sawdog on his first bear sit.
Mason and I hop in the stand early Friday night after baiting and setting up camp for the weekend. I'm feeling really confident. Weather is good, bait is smoked. We're gonna kill one tonight. By 8:30 that feeling is gone. I've been really impressed with the boys ability to sit in the tree and ground blinds. This was a 4 hour sit. That's a long time when your 10 and aint nothing going on. Call it a night at dark and come out. I forgot to mention I did a sit with one of their younger brothers, Sawyer, who is 8. That lasted an hour and half :) was just praying we would see a bear but no biggie. We went back to camp and busted out the marshmallows for smores and he had a fun night. He'll be a killer in a few years.
I almsot forgot one of the most important things!! Gotta back track a bit. So, when Mason and I went in to bait that Friday we kicked up about 10 crows just below the trail we walk in on. Then it hit us. The smell of death. Something was dead nearby. I told Mason, I think Smiths bear is dead down there. Not far from the tree. The stench was undeniable. So we hunted Friday night but decided to not go into that spot until Saturday morning so we wouldn't get any smell on us. I was sure we found Smiths bear and if that was the case, he didn't make it 80 yards from the bait.
We dropped in and sure enough. Within minutes we were on Smiths bear! He had smoked him. Didn't make it 80 yards. We were so happy to have that closure and be able to recover the skull for him. It's so thick up there, we had walked by it multiple times the week before. Bummed we couldn't recover together to share that memory and pics but happy to be able to come back and bring Smith his bear. Amazing what the birds do in 4 days time. Not even recognizable.
This weekend was a success now no matter what. But I'll tell you what, Mason was determined to get his bear. Now Smitty had killed a turkey and a bear. He was gonna sit all day if I let him. We were in the stand at 3:00. This could be a long night.
Thanks Matt for giving me something to smile about here at work and more importantly giving those boys hunting!
7:01 I see movement behind the bait. "Mason! Mason! Bear! Bear!" All in whispers of course. There is a beautiful chocolate bear working his way around the backside of the bait. Mase gets his gun ready and I'm coaching him through waiting for a good opportunity. This was a better bear then we have had before and he was smarter then the others. He would only eat by stepping in front quartering to, grab some food then step back behind the bait to chew. We kept waiting for a good opportunity and I was just praying he would go broadside or better. After what seemed like forever he finally presented a shot worth taking. My Boy put it one where it counts!! BOOM!
He didn't make it 20 yards. We sat in the tree and listened to death moans. Mason had his bear and he was a beauty. How cool was that?!! Two bears in 2 weeks for the boys. After last years efforts and struggle to even see a bear this was off the charts.
Mason didn't stop smiling for days. Everything about this was the BEST. So grateful.
I tried to carry him out whole so we could work him up at camp but he was too heavy! Gutted him out and that was enough to get him on my back.
Not sure how to edit that second pic?
Smitty went back with me the following weekend. He wanted to be there when I killed one. We had a small bear come in and enjoyed hanging out with him. Being close to bears and watching them be bears is pretty damn cool. Glad to share that night in the stand with one of my little buddies. We drove home through the night. I was running out of time and my wife's patience has a limit. I always end up breaking it though. This was the 4th weekend in a row being gone. I went this one last time the following weekend, solo. Sat Friday night and had another small bear come in. Not one I wanted to kill. Saturday led me to town to Hunt's place to help with the sod and meet the NEB boys. They straight crushed it. 4 bears down while there were up in ID! You don't want to be a bear around HUNT and that's a fact. Super excited for those guys especially Zach. Congrats again buddy. First of many. Well done.
I sat again Saturday night but only had the same small bear come in. Pulled my bait and drove home through the night to enjoy Sunday with my wife and the other boys. It's been a lot of miles and time invested. I am bummed I didn't get to kill one this year but wouldn't trade it for the world. We will never forget this season and I am already planning on how to do better next year. Thanks for following and I appreciate the kind words.
HUNT- Thanks again my friend. None of this happens without you. I know your in the stand right now. HAMMER TIME.
Awesome story all around! Congrats to you and the boys!
Not to be a downer but Idaho rabbit season closed march 31st.
Beautiful bear congrats Mason!
Yes, congrats on your bear!!! Enjoy threads that include young future hunters!!
Grats to you and your sons on their bears! Very cool thread.
That is very Cool
Congrats to the young fella
Good luck, Robb
Congrats on a great bear season! I know how much work was involved for you to make this happen for your boys. With hunter recruitment at an all time low it is dads like you that will keep hunting a tradition into the future. Great job!
Great post Matt. If the world had more Dads like you it would be a better place !! That picture of Mason makes me smile every time ! Here to next year!!! Matts boys are going to be some killers. I can see it in there eyes. Thanks for the kind words . Hunt
Fond memories congrats boy on your Bears awesome
Thanks for the story! It is threads like this that remind me why sites like this are so cool!
Really great stuff! Thanks for posting
Awesome story! Good on you for being a great Dad! Congrats on the bears boys!