Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Hunter's gun no match for bearBy DICK PINNEY November 28. 2015 9:32PM
THIS IS a story about a partridge hunt in Canada that turned out to be a bear hunt, though not exactly planned. (Next week our column will be about a bear hunt that turned into a partridge hunt!)
The New England Outdoor Writers Association has a great relationship with most of the Canadian provinces' tourist divisions, and they often have offered some great weekend and even weeklong safari-type adventures to the associations writers who specialize in hunting or fishing for the kinds of fish and game the provinces are promoting.
I'm not much for bear hunting, but the offer from New Brunswick was too much to turn down when they had lined up a week's bear hunt, complete with guide, room and board. To make this offer more acceptable, it was for two people. It could be your spouse or anyone else you'd want to take along for a hunting buddy.
My wife, Jane, wouldn't kill a mouse, after she gave up hunting because of a wounded grouse. So my lifelong hunting buddy Tom Connors of Portsmouth was more than glad to accept my invitation and we were making plans for an extended trip.
Because we had great friends in New Brunswick, just a couple of hours away from where we were going to meet in Moncton, our plan was to leave about a week early and spend it with our friends and hunting guides near Plaster Rock to take advantage of some of the great bird hunting there with Clarence Brewer, our younger guide-friend Dan Brewer's dad, who had been retired for quite a while but still had his guiding license and would like nothing better than to spend a few days out in the woods with us after “patridge” as they called 'em.
Clarence had some great tales to tell about when he was a young man, growing up working the log cutting and river log runs to bring the logs to the mill.
He also was just brimming with stories about having to defend himself from pesky black bears, sometimes even having to fend them off with his double-bitted axe. This all seemed plausible to Tomcat and me as we'd watched Clarence and Danny stand opposite each other, taking turns swinging those deadly axes in rotation, making quick work of the block of wood.
Clarence was more excited than we were for going for a partridge hunt, which in New Brunswick and most of the northcountry is riding the back logging roads and shooting the partridge on the ground. Once in a while when they missed and their second shot would connect with a flying bird, they'd brag about that for a week or so!
Great conditions greeted us when the three of us in Tomcat's old Ford Explorer took Clarence directions and hit the road. Fog was still lifting off the bottom lands and the leaves were a bit wet, quiet enough to do some sneaking and peeking if we chose to get out of the vehicle.
Tomcat was armed with his trusty Ithaca pump but I'd decided to use my .22 Ruger that was scoped with an 1X3 power scope, as it was a bit more sporting to take a bird on the sit with a head-shot.
If any of you have ever eaten fried partridge or one roasted with bacon strips, you know how wonderful that bird is on the plate, which was inspiration for me to keep the bird free of pellets and go for a .22 head shot.
Slowly rumbling along the bumpy and grown up logging roads, Tomcat shot a couple of birds on the sit and then the Dickster took an easy head shot and missed completely. I wasn't too concerned about that but when I missed another one, it was apparent that my scope had been bounced around and that I should have the boys stop and let me see if I could sight 'er back in.
We stopped at a clearing where I could pick some kind of a target and see what was going on. With the three of us trudging into the woods, we were in the clearing when we heard a rustle of leaves and here comes a mid-sized bear that hadn't noticed us. Clarence whispered in an excited voice that could be heard for miles, “Shoot that bear, Dick!”
“Clarence, this is only a .22! I've shot lots of bears with a .22.”
“Just shoot,” he answered.
Just then the bear went behind a huge rock, stood up and was looking right at us. My aim was right between his eyes. I shot and in a cloud of black hair, it dropped down behind the rock.
There was a lot of “You got 'em!” and back slapping but then the bear appeared from behind the rock and I gave him nine more shots in the rib cage. This never slowed him down!
When I turned to see what Clarence's answer to that, it was a bit late, as he'd run to the truck and locked himself in!
Tomcat and I tried to track the bear but there was no blood and the leaf cover was not turned up enough to enable tracking. We made several circular sweeps of the area, and believe me my neck hair was standing at attention!
Old Clarence finally let us back into the vehicle but that was the end of our hunt for the day. We tried to find anyone with bear dogs to help us but they were all busy guiding clients.
Since that day I've vowed to never, ever shoot another bear with any kind of gun!
Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and think twice about bear hunting!
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.