Wednesday, December 06, 2023

September, 2005, Washington State Black Bear, .45 Long Colt

Cinnamon Bear shot with Taurus Tracker in .45 Long Colt, 250 gr Jacketed Hollow point bullets.


In 2005, Travis Newman was archery hunting in Washington state. He had drawn a archery elk tag for the Blue Mountains near Walla Walla. Late in the evening of the 20th of September, he was on a familiar elk trail. As he came around a corner, he thought: "I don't remember seeing that stump before".  The "stump" transformed itself into a big bear coming at him full bore, furiously chomping its jaws. Travis thought the bear would bluff, took a step back, and speed drew his Taurus Tracker .45 Colt from a cross body holster made by Uncle Mike. The revolver was loaded with Remington 250 grain jacketed hollow points.

 Taurus Tracker 5-shot revolver , courtesy Rock Island Auction


As Travis pulled the hammer back, he thought: this is real. His first shot was fired at ten feet, and went over the top of the bear. He fired the second shot at 4 1/2 feet. When he fired the third shot, the bear was right under his arm. The third shot broke the bears back, far down, disabling the hind legs.  As the bear was passing, he stepped back and fired the last two shots in the revolver's cylinder, double action, pow!, pow! and hit the bear two more times in the back end. The entire action took less than three or four seconds.

The bear went over the edge of a ravine, just to Travis' right. It is the upper end of the Wolf Fork Creek, which flows into Dayton, WA. Travis was left with an empty revolver. He dumped the empties into a coat pocket and grabbed in his other pocket, finding four spare cartridges. He loaded the four into the cylinder of the five shot revolver, with the empty chamber under the hammer.

The bear was making an incredible racket down below. Travis half expected the bear to come boiling up the slope at him, as he peered over the edge. The bear was sitting on its backside against the far hillside, about 15 yards away. It looked at Travis, grabbed one of its disabled rear legs in its front paws. The bear put the hind foot in its mouth and chomped twice. Then it throught the not working foot down, and barks Bleth! The bear started moving, rolling and twisting as Travis fired three shots. All three shots missed.

The bear took off down the ravine, sort of skiing with its hind legs dragging behind it. It tried to crawl under a downed tree, but got stuck. It could not go forward or backward. Travis had one shot left. He ran up to the bear, put one foot on the trunk of the tree, and fired his last shot between the shoulder blades, angled toward the front of the bear.

The log moved, and the bear slipped out the other side , flipping and rolling. It piled up further down the ravine. Travis holstered his pistol, drew his knife and followed. Then he thought, I don't want to get into a knife to bear conflict!  He stopped and watched the bear from about 30 yards away. The bear was badly hurt. It seemed to be fighting to stay conscious, sitting on its backside. Travis watched the bear for a long time, probably many minutes. Travis tried a low whistle. The bear raised its head, and let out a loud Wuff! Travis decided to get help and more ammunition.

When Travis and a taxidermist friend with a rifle arrived the next morning, Travis had a full belt of cartridges. If the bear had not expired during the night, he wanted to finish the job with his revolver.  It had rained and snowed all night. The bear was not where he had left it.

They started a classic tracking/search pattern. Start where you last had sign. Search around in a small circle. If no sign, make  a larger circle. They found the bear, only just visible, in the bottom of an elk wallow, buried in the mud.  There was only the top of the head, a nostril, an eye, an ear, the side of mouth and its shoulder blade were showing.  Every now and then, a small bubble would break the surface of the mud. The elk wallow was in a depression. Travis scrambled down to examine the situation. He thought the bear was dead or comatose.

His friend stayed above the depression, and yelled at him: "Hey stupid, what you are doing!", as Travis stepped on the bear's shoulder, with his Taurus revolver cocked, to cross to the other side of the wallow. Travis looked up and was talking to his friend. He saw his friend's eyes grow white. Travis was about two feet from the bear's head. He heard a "pliisht"  when the bear's head erupted from the wallow and gave one last, loud "chomp" with its teeth. Travis shot the bear just behind the head, as the finishing shot.

As Travis and his friend laboriously dragged the bear out of the mud, it kept getting bigger and bigger.  After two and a half hours, most of the mud was off and the bear was skinned. It was late. They left to get Travis' old buckskin horse to bring the remains back to civilization.

When Travis returned to the spot where he had first seen the bear, He realized what had happened. Travis was wearing a black ball hat, black sweatshirt, and black wrangler jeans. The light was fading. The bear was feeding on a mule deer doe carcass. There wasn't any wind to bring Travis' scent to the bear. The bear probably thought Travis was a competing bear, attempting to steal the deer.

A case of mistaken identity can cause a damaging mauling. Travis did not have to worry about justifying himself. Travis had the proper license to legally take a bear. Some people have hesitated to shoot threatening bears, because they worry about the legal aftermath.

On the trail, as he came out, he took a break with his old buckskin horse. There, 500 yards across the drainage, was another cinnamon bear, as big as the one he had killed.  The bear Travis had shot was a big bear for the area. It was in excellent condition. It had been a good berry year, and a good elk calf year. It was before wolves were brought back into the area. The bear squared over 6 feet.

©2023 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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1 comment:

Windy Wilson said...

Wow. Just wow. You just never know when an activity will turn into a bear hunt. A story for the grandchildren. Thankfully the aggressor went to the happy hunting grounds.