I don’t know how to explain the disparity between the way I feel so strongly about elk hunting with a bow and absolutely not caring about bear hunting with a bow. Bottom line is that I don’t have to explain it. All I have to do is tell you that I’ll be packing Ol’ Betsy out to Montana. Those feelings might change after my first Western bear hunt, but I’m really happy about the fact that I’ll be able to handle anything from a 15 yard ambush setup on a logging road to long range cross-canyon shooting into an open clearcut.
With a prone steady rest, minimal crosswind, and an exact yardage, I will feel confident to shoot out to 400 yards if need be. That would be holding just off the hairline at 400 yards. I’m waiting until next week when dad brings my rifle up from North Carolina to shoot some different loads through it, but that gun has historically shot extremely well with Winchester SilverTips. Something else will have to really impress me to make a switch.
One of the toughest parts of bear hunting is judging bear size and quality. That task gets exponentially harder as distance increases. Not wanting to unknowingly tag out on a sub-par bear is one motivation to get close. One of the main reasons I bow hunt for elk is because I like “in my face” animal encounters. Despite the fact that I’ll be carrying a center-fire rifle on this trip, the goal will still be to cut the distance as short as possible. If as short as possible still means 300 yards, I’ll be no less thrilled to fill my tag!
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that another reason for toting a rifle is the ever-present possibility of a grizzly bear encounter run amuck. Those odds are probably lower than the 4th floor of my office building caving in on my head in the next 20 minutes, but they are on the landscape and odds are we’ll at least run across some grizzly sign over the course of our 9.5 day hunt.
Anyways, ‘Ol Betsy will be arriving in just a couple days, so I’ll be sure to post my final choice for ammunition and range practice update as the days tick down.