Generally by the end of September, black bear in New Mexico have located on a food source in which they can store fat and prepare for hybrination. This may range from prickly pear apples, juniper berries, to acorns. When black bears find a mast crop in the fall, they usually move less and are easier to tree.
I had already located a good acorn patch prior to Brad Swift’s arrival from Colorado for his New Mexico Black Bear hunt with hounds. We were perhaps over confident with our expectations.
The first kink in our plan was FED-X lost my tracking collar receiver during shipping. I’d sent it for repair and on the return shipping they managed to lose it. I’d arrange to borrow a receiver from a friend of mine until FED-X could located my lost receiver.
When Brad and I rode out that morning, I didn’t expect to need the receiver, but put my tracking collars on the hounds anyway and asked my mother-in-law, Mary Jo if she’d mind picking up the borrowed receiver.
We’d been in the saddle about an hour when the hounds caught a bear scent and took off over the hill. It took us a while to pick our way through the heavy brush to the top. I fully expected to hear the hounds treed in the big canyon on the other side. Instead of hearing dogs barking treed from our listening point on top, we heard one of the slower hounds going over the next mountain. We finally conceded we’d lost the hounds, so I called my mother-in-law to see if she could bring the borrowed receiver to where I’d parked the truck and trailer. She graciously agreed.
After riding back to the truck, picking up the receiver, locating the hounds and negotiating the rough country to get close to them, it was almost dark. The bear was bayed on the ground and wouldn’t tree. He’d stop and fight the dogs and then move on. It’s very difficult to get close enough for a shot when this happens. Since it was getting dark and we were a long ways from the truck, I decided the best thing to do was to try and call my hounds off and start again tomorrow. We managed to call off all but 2 dogs, then we headed for the truck.
Day 2 found us parking in the same place. After riding a couple of hours, the hounds hit another bear track and away we went. You guessed it! Another bayed bear! This one took us almost to the Gila River before I was able to call off some of the dogs.
The third morning found us riding down the same trail again. We were wondering if we’d find yet another bear that wouldn’t tree. We’d just about reached the spot where the dogs started the track the day before, when they through up their heads and flew down the mountain. In a matter of seconds, they had this beautiful boar treed in an oak tree.
Brad certainly earned this trophy black bear!!!
**You’ll never guess where FED-X put my package with the tracking receiver. Julie found it in the garbage dumpster near our mail box!! We’re lucky the garbage hadn’t been hauled. Can you imagine a delivery company doing that???**
I usually have to drive to San Luis Obispo to get the huntin’ gear Fed Ex loses for me, Gary. Good job getting that big bear.