Larry's Short Stories

Let's Get Closer

He was just outside the thick brush. A wounded bear, in this circumstance, could lead to disaster.
He was just outside the thick brush. A wounded bear, in this circumstance, could lead to disaster.

It all started at the beginning of the last leg of the stalk, when my guide asked how far I was comfortable shooting. My response was simply that 300 yards was about it; he said “Good, some guys claim they can shoot at 500 yards and I’m always afraid they will wound the bear.”

We had been glassing all through the day in a light on-and-off mist and finally spotted this bear in the late afternoon, a mile or so away. He was eating grass at the edge of the thick brush. As we were near the bay, the most logical stalk was to back out, follow the beach for a mile or so and then proceed inland to the bear.

Our first look was a bit short, so we pulled back and hiked up the beach a quarter mile farther then turned in again. Soon we had our eyes on him, a half mile or so from the beach. This is where I got the question about how far I was comfortable shooting.

Wet weather is the norm in Alaska and a wood-stocked rifle should be fully glass bedded, with a generously free-floated barrel – like this first generation Nearly-Perfect Safari Rifle.
Wet weather is the norm in Alaska and a wood-stocked rifle should be fully glass bedded, with a generously free-floated barrel – like this first generation Nearly-Perfect Safari Rifle.

We had lots of sporadic cover and the bear was occupied with filling his stomach, so we moved pretty quickly till we got to a bush about 300 yards away. At this point, we stopped the advance. The guide didn’t tell me to shoot or ask if I was comfortable taking a shot from this position, he simply stopped the stalk. Always trying to be a good client and not wanting to ‘guide the guide’, I waited and glassed the bear. Finally, when I was sure that this was as far as the guide was taking me, I commented: “You know, if we back out a bit, move to the left behind cover, then come in along that line of brush, we will be within 125 yards.” “Yes, but if we get that close, he will see us.” “No problem, I’ll shoot him!”

The guide led us forward on the line we had just discussed and soon we were there -- still concealed by the brush. As the bear turned his head the other direction, I slipped out and sat on a small mound. The bear turned back and knew something was up, but I put a Nosler 165 grain Partition through his shoulders. The moral of this story is that a good guide can almost always get you closer - and closer is almost always better on dangerous game.

Grizzly bears vary in color from nearly-blond to nearly-black.  Brenda’s bear, taken on this same trip, was nearly-blond.
Grizzly bears vary in color from nearly-blond to nearly-black. Brenda’s bear, taken on this same trip, was nearly-blond.
Larry's Short Stories