Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Bear With A Bad Attitude

Posted by todblog on October 4, 2009

September 10, 2009

Labor Day weekend is a time I look forward to each year. We load the truck and make the long 11 hour drive to Bitsy Kelley’s Diamond Head Ranch in Northeast Oregon. Others converge on the remote ranch for a fun and relaxing weekend with lots of good food. One of the main activities is bear hunting. There are several creek drainages to choose from and hunt for bears. Some years there is so much fruit and berries available to the bears, they can be most any place. They can be found gorging themselves on apples, plums, rose hips, elder berries or hawthorn berries to name a few. So, during those abundant years, it’s not like the bears are concentrated in one spot. They can be almost anywhere. There have been a number of bear tags left unfilled over the years due to choosing the wrong draw to hunt. But, that’s why it’s called hunting… something Jacob is all too familiar with.

It seems that each year Jacob has hunted an area for bears and came up empty. He claims he has no luck, bad luck, or both.

I had hopes that the end result of this Labor Day weekend hunting trip would be different for Jacob. When we got to the Diamond Head Ranch, other hunters were determined to change Jacob’s outcome as well. Jacob got to hunt a creek bottom that had some pretty high success in years past. The creek was loaded with small sweet yellow plums and apple trees full of fruit. Surely the bears must be frequenting this area again.

Friday morning came and our plans were to situate ourselves up that creek waiting for bears to move up past our position as the sunlight slowly painted the valley walls around us. Getting a teenage boy up at o’dark thirty is always a challenge but, I was pleasantly surprised when Jacob awoke rather easily and got dressed. With a quick gulp of some food and a drink we were out the door and headed down the road to the creek. As we drove up the road paralleling the creek, I wondered how many bears were in the creek bottom and if they were quickly heading up past our destination. Only time would tell. Suddenly I caught movement ahead in the road, it was a bunch of yellow blobs bouncing up and down away from us. It was the south end of some northbound elk. They heard me driving up the road and they were crashing through the brush and moving out of the creek bottom. As I got further up the draw, I could see it was a larger herd of about 30 elk. They were on both sides of the creek, climbing the steep sides and crashing through thick brush effortlessly.

We got to our destination and quickly setup on a hillside with a view of the creek bottom and opposite hillside. The elk were still snapping branches, moving out of the brushy hillside in search of a quiet shady north slope further up the draw and away from the dusty red Toyota truck. We settled in and focused our attention back to the creek bottom. Now came the difficult part, waiting and having faith that a bear would show up.

The warm sun rays began to peek over the ridge and slowly gave chase to the lingering morning chill, it was a welcome feeling. It was however, an indication that we’d been posted in our spot a long time and that perhaps we weren’t going to see a bear this morning. Then the familiar sound came, “I’m never in the right place”, said Jacob.

I took that to mean, it was time to pack up and head back to the cabin. I told him to slowly work his way back down the dirt road and see if he couldn’t cross paths with a bruin that way. It would at least keep him occupied and it would be warmer than sitting still. I sat and gave him some time before heading down the road with the truck to pick him up. Jacob reported flushing several ruffed grouse in the hawthorne trees and said he saw some fresh bear scat along the creek. At least we knew the area was being used by a bear. Maybe we got there too late in the morning or could it have been the chaotic noise generated by 30+ elk leaving the county at once?

Back at the ranch we all reported in and shared stories about our morning hunts. Nobody had any success with bears but, some reported seeing bears traveling along ridges in different parts of the ranch. That afternoon, Jacob and I headed up a different creek and did some calling hoping to lure a bear in with a rabbit distress call. No luck there and we did not see any fresh sign either. Still it was good quality quiet time with junior boy in the woods. No cell phone or iPod to interrupt us. These are some of my best times with Jacob. Perhaps someday he will come to appreciate those times as I will surely be longing for them.

Friday night everyone talked about their plans for the next morning and we were encouraged to try the same morning hunt again. Would it be any different? I went to bed wondering if that were the right thing to do and Jacob just went to bed tired. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. and hoped I would have an easy time waking up Jacob.

The buzz of the alarm came way too soon and I reached over to turn it off for just a wee bit longer snooze. I normally place the alarm clock across the room to prevent excessive snoozing from happening. As it turns out this was a 30 minute violation and I was getting us off to a late start. I nudged Jacob to wake up and he told me he was having second thoughts. “If I stay behind, you’ll surely get a bear Dad”. More woe is me garbage talk.

“Nope, you’re getting out of bed and we’re hunting together. C’mon let’s go, get up.”

A handful of fruit and granola bars chased down with a slug of java and we were out the door. The daylight was coming quick as we pulled out of the ranch driveway and headed for the creek. My partner was awake now and almost fully alert. We drove up the creek bottom and were making our way to the hillside waiting spot when I got jolted out of my seat.

“There’s a BEAR!” was loudly whispered by Jacob the Unlucky Boy.

Unlucky Boy was looking out his window at the creek bottom when he saw the head of a dark chocolate bear looking back at him from across the creek. It took me a while to register what was happening and I finally came to a stop and killed the engine. Jacob grabbed his rifle and ran down to find an opening in the brushy draw. Apparently, the bear was climbing out of the creek bottom and stopped momentarily to lighten his load before heading for higher country and that’s when we came along. Unlucky Boy scrambled to settle the Browning .30-06 in his shooting sticks. The bear had finally seen enough and started to move out of the area. It turned broadside as it continued up the trail out of the creek bottom. The bear stopped briefly on the trail to take one more look at the kneeling Unlucky Boy who was steady as a rock. It must have heard Unlucky Boy’s heart racing and hard breathing from 59 yards away on the opposite side of the creek. After several years of bear hunting, it appeared that the stars were finally aligned just right and it was time.

The Browning rifle spoke with authority as its echo rolled through the canyon. In that split second, the 150 grain Nosler AccuBond changed everything. Suddenly, before me was a Lucky Boy who realized that he had taken his first bear. It could have been a totally different outcome if he had chosen to stay in bed that morning and given up.

We waited for several minutes to be certain there was no movement in the brush and took the time to mark the bear’s approximate location. We crossed the creek and discovered a heavily used bear trail along the bottom and a network of trails heading up the hillside. In a few minutes we found the chocolate bear not far from the trail. Jacob and I were so happy and we celebrated by sharing a great big bear hug!

Hopefully Jacob learned the value of being persistent as he finally was able to cross paths with a nice bruin that he could take home.

Unlucky Boy with his first chocolate bear

Jacob with his first bear. Persistence pays off!

Unlucky Boy with his bear back at the ranch

Jacob with his bear skin back at the ranch

Getting ready for kalua bear!
Getting ready for kalua bear!


22 Responses to “Bear With A Bad Attitude”

  1. Terri said

    Eegads, Jacob’s no boy anymore. He’s a young man. Say “hi” to the family!


  2. ning mcgill said

    congrats, jacob!!

    as “ah po” would say -“you good boy”
    mac and i very proud of you and your patience & persistence – looks like a BIG bear!
    will show gary tasaka – who is just aching to catch himself a bear too.
    how long is bear season?

    loves ya, tutu.


  3. ning mcgill said

    proud of your patience and persistence!
    way to go, jacob!!
    gary tasaka will be so jealous – he is aching to catch himself a bear too.

    love and blessings.
    tutu and mac


  4. Janie said

    Great story-telling as always Tod-Congrats Jacob! food for the winter plus a new rug? Is it pie time Jeanine?


  5. Janie said

    Or maybe a new stylin’ winter coat!


  6. todblog said

    Oregon’s fall season for bear starts on August 1 and ends Nov 30 in Eastern Oregon and ends Dec 31 in Western Oregon. In Southwest Oregon bear populations are high enough to warrant an additional bear tag for the same time period if a hunter wants to buy one.


  7. doug said

    Sorry, Tod – the picture is a little bit unclear – which one is Jacob and which one is the bear ?

    Aloha to all.


  8. Orlando Oxiles "Ox" said

    Aloha Tod,Jeanine,Jacob,Jessica,
    Always enjoyed you sharing your outdoor adventures and particularly your outstanding imagery eliciting writing style. Your words and their configurations are vivd, graphic, eloquent, sincere and have a mean and effective simplicity. You remind all of why we choose to hunt. It is great seeing you, Jacob and the bear and how well you all are doing. Mahalo for sharing!
    Aloha – Ox


  9. Mark Adkins said

    Nice hunt Jacob! How have you been preparing the meat? I never got to smoke mine but wanted to try it. The flavor of bear can vary greatly, depending on the animal’s diet and the amount of fat left with the meat. So that first taste usually dictates if you eat a lot of stew and meatloaf or if you go with more juicy cuts.


  10. Bets said

    Tod, Your writing is SOOO good. BIG Congrats, Jacob! Did Dad make you skin it out yourself?

    Tod, What’s with “Diamond Head Ranch?” I grew up on the slopes of Diamond Head, playing football with the boys in Kapi`olani Park, but that warn’t in Oregon!

    A hui hou, Bets


  11. Bob said

    What a wonderful adventure once again. Who was the lucky guy to pack out the bear? Looks like Jacob is big enough to handle the job. The life in Oregon is treating You well. You don’t look like You have aged a bit. Aloha to the Ohana.


  12. Sandy DeMaris said

    I’m sure Jacob felt awesome getting his bear, but Tod, you know me, I felt sorry for the bear. I am going to be a Great Grandmother come April! Michele’s daughter Tessa is expecting
    in April. This will be the first April baby. My name will change to GMa! Sandy


  13. ralph saitos said

    And the hunter home from the hills….with his very first bear at last!……Good job , Dad, in teaching Jacob to never give up!!! And , for always being there for your son. What a great partnership!
    Hi and aloha to J and J, too. ….ralph and jean
    ps: got to see Wayne Ching couple of weeks ago when he came up with the fire co. group to safety check our vol. fire truck. Was good to see him.


  14. Brad said

    Wow…..Congratulations Jacob. What a nice bear and a fantastic color. Hopefully you can get it tanned to mount on the wall. I’ll share this with Cody. Good luck this buck season.



  15. Michael T. Hino said

    WOW! Beary good job Jacob! You probably bearly remember me if at all. But, congratulation on your first bear kill.
    Todd, your blogs are always very entertaining. Makes me kind of of wish I had kids of my own. WHAT DA HECK AM I SAYING!!!!! Temporary insanity I think they call it. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I hope you and Jacob continue to have and share the best of quality times.
    Please give my regards to the rest of the family.
    With Love Your Moloka’i Bradah,
    Mike Hino


  16. Bea Kikawa said

    What a good storyteller you are, Tod.

    Congratulations Jacob What a great reward for your patience and persistence. A very special life-lesson.



  17. Tamara said

    Jacob, what a great weekend that was:) We’re so happy you finally got your bear:) Super job…..who skinned it and cut up all the meat????:) Todd….amazing entertaining writing as always. We missed seeing you last weekend. Luke took his first 4 point whit tail, he’s feeling pretty manly himself:)

    Take care, tell the family hello.


  18. Donna Mah said

    Hey there, you made it! Congratulations, Jacob. I guess you’ll be having the kalua bear that you were dreaming about. Did you make pies? Just a thanks for having us over for dinner. We had such a great time. I really miss getting together with you guys. I look at the kids and think, wow, they are becoming young men. Lyla is off for college already. Where did all that time go! Last weekend, the guys went black powder hunting at Puu Waa Waa. Brandon shot this big old stinky billy. I’ll send you the pictures when we get them from Alan. Whew. It was horrible. Thank goodness Joey and Alan shot edible sizes. Take care and keep in touch. Aloha pumehana. da Mah’s


  19. Ken Saito said

    Aloha Lum family,
    Hey your hunting stories are always entertaining. Guess the hunter bs is always the same. Nice bear Jacob, having waited several seasons to take a bear makes the hunt better. Looks like you got some nice meat from the bear. Missed you guys this past months since Puu Waa Waa was open. Still got a bunch of goats on the makai side. Didnt hunt the poll ram hunt in the makai side. The goat meat from there still great. How the salmon fishing this year?


  20. sakamotos said

    Great Job Guys! Jake wants DLNR to do a test release of bears on Molokai to keep down the goat an dear population. Jake been doing the hunting scene here but only does and goats so far. Make room for us we going come pretty soon. Alojas!


  21. Chelsea said

    OMG! nice bear Jacob! wish we had stuff like that to shoot here on molokai….
    you guys need to come visit us! haven’t see you guys in ages.

    haha i forgot Mr.Hino knew you..i remember giving him your email long ago

    hope all’s well up there! tell everyone we say hi =]



  22. Randy Lee said

    Congrats to Jacob on his first bear. Tod, great story, makes even a non hunter like me want to get out there with you. You couldnt have got that at Kalani! Kalua Bear sounds tasty!
    Hope alls well,
    The Lees


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