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Max's Meanderings: 2015 A Different Spring Bounty, By: Prostaffer, Max Zeller

July 21, 2015


The 2015 spring  bear and turkey seasons are behind us now, and the theme of this year’s hunts was another very early spring, and the number of folks in the bear and turkey woods. 

For the first time in 16 years I failed to harvest a spring bear, nor was I able to pick up a left-over spring bear tag, as none were available---another first.  I did manage to draw my first choice bear tag, and I did hunt harder and cover more area this year than I ever had before. 

My efforts were rewarded with only 13 bear sightings (less than half the number I usually observe), eight of which I placed my crosshairs upon at less than 80 yards (three were under 10 yards). 

However this spring, I had my mind and heart set on a larger, mature boar, and I stuck to my goal. 

All the bears in my scope were either sows or 2-3 year old sub-adults.  I only saw one bear during the entire month of April, as I was sharing the bears woods with a large number of the newest demographic---shed hunters. 

They, and other commercial users, were swarming my favorite areas every day; areas that I have never seen another human soul in all my previous years of spring bear hunting.  I tried to change tactics and areas, but I constantly ran into other folks.  I talked with other bear hunters that expressed the same observations.  The larger boars that I managed to track on a daily basis were dug into deep draws and largely nocturnal.  I did managed to put a long stalk on a medium bear in the last hour of the last day, narrowing the distance from 450+ yards down to seven yards, but I let him walk as well.  It was a great way to end the season. 

Turkey season was a little more fruitful, but again, a very early, warm spring had the migratory thunder chickens that we hunt in eastern Oregon already pushing through our areas before the opener; and the number of folks that we encountered were many-fold compared to previous years. 

Most years, we would hunt the snow line, which was sometimes so heavy it limited vehicle access into the higher elevations, but conversely, also pushed the birds down to the lower reaches that we could access on foot. 

This year there was absolutely no snow, even at the highest elevations and vehicle access was unabated.  People were able to access any and all areas and the birds were spread throughout their entire range.  This just meant that our group of five this year had to work harder and cover more areas to encounter enough birds to offer everyone a chance.  We spent four long days in the mountains and covered many miles. 

There were some close calls that didn’t pan out, and a few missed shots; but in the end we managed to harvest eight birds, a lot of good-natured ribbing, hand shakes and back slapping, and another load of great memories.

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