All quiet on the forest floor -- almost

Last week I celebrated the anniversary of nabbing my first bear.

Now, this wasn’t just a story. It was epic. I had always wanted to get a bear and when I successfully drew a license, I anxiously spent months scouting in preparation for opening day.

 Like any great dream, though, daily life intruded.

When September rolled around, my mother, choir director at our church, pleaded for my tenor voice on her planned anthem for Sunday rather than going bear hunting on opening day. My mother reminded me of the Andy Griffith song about the preacher who went hunting on a Sunday morning. When he encountered a bear, the preacher found himself sitting in a Sycamore tree, praying,

"Oh lord, you delivered Daniel from the bottom of the lion's den
You delivered Jonah, from the belly of the whale and then,
The Hebrew children from the fiery furnace so the good books do declare
But  lord, if you can't help me, for goodness sake don't help that bear”

So, not wanting to tempt the Lord, I went to church and sang. Following church, other things blocked my plans and more delays were encountered.

So that is why it was 3 p.m. before my girlfriend, Paula, and I headed out for a nice evening hunt. The weather was perfect and the wind minimal as we exited the truck near Del Norte Peak. We walked ever so quietly for an hour expecting to see a bear around every tree. We finally found the location where we had seen bear signs previously and sat down for what I expected to be long evening vigil.

Suddenly, I heard chomping sounds and knew a bear had to be close chewing on something. Scanning the forest I could detect nothing and finally turned toward Paula to find the crunching was her eating Cheetos.

After a reprimanding look, quiet settled down over the forest -- almost. The sound of zippers from her pack sounded like thunder echoing across the canyon. Another reprimanding look, then she took her phone out and started Googling something. Later, she said she was looking at what to do when encountering a bear. I had brought a gun along to shoot one, and she was going to take the bear shopping online.

Finally, tiring of the Internet, she decided to take a nap. About 20 minutes of quiet settled over the forest before her eyes popped open and she signaled she could smell something. I had smelled it, too, but had remained quiet hoping the bear would show itself and she would remain silent and still – preferably asleep on the forest floor.

But if you know my Paula, quiet is just not in her vocabulary. She likes to communicate. Thinking something was about to happen, she started texting every new update to friends on Twitter and Facebook. I am sure the look on my face would have been priceless as I tried to comprehend all the busy work emitting from our blind when all I wanted was to sit quietly and hunt. At 5:31 p.m. she suddenly felt compelled to show ME the texts. At that moment a bear stepped out into her view.

“Bear, Bear BEAR!” exited her lips and the bear, not conditioned to shouting from an Internet-connected woman, took that as a cue to run away through the aspens. Instinct took over and I got my gun up and on target and asked her how big it was.

“250 to 300 pounds” she replied.

“Shall I shoot?" and before Paula could answer, the bear was on the ground and my hunt was over. It was an amazing shot and an instant kill which I was thankful for.

At 5:33 p.m. we had our bear. Her Internet savvy did pay off, though, as she contacted her folks and others to help get the bear out. I have some health issues and so having help was both a godsend and necessary as I cannot lift a lot of weight.

The bear proved to be a dry female with no cubs and had so little fat the biologist were afraid she would have starved over the winter. I was pleasantly surprised at how mild the flavor was. The meat was appreciated for the winter and we were able to share it with many friends. For me, my first bear hunt lasted just 90 minutes and ended with success. This year, though, I’m leaving the Cheeto-eater behind taking care of Cooper.

Both the Rio Grande and South Fork are dark and ash filled. I did catch some browns in the Rio Grande on #5 Rapala lures in the Perch color. Flies continue to produce well on the clear streams not affected by the fires. A new hopper hatch was seen so those and Elk Hair Caddis in olive color are working well. For a dropper I like a Pheasant Tail or Prince Nymph on about 18” of leader below the top fly. All the lakes, except Shaw, are producing limits daily on the new bead shaped Gulp baits. For more info you can contact me on my blog.

Get out there now and enjoy Nature’s show. Paula, Cooper and I will look for you on our travels.