We encountered fresh grizzly bear tracks

A story by Anton Schneider, a past resident of Fort St. James.

A story by Anton Schneider, a past resident of Fort St. James. Schneider who lived in the community from 1958 to 1967 with his wife Theresa and their five children. This is one of the many tales the 85-year-old still recalls from his time here in Fort. Schneider now lives in Vernon, B.C.

Back when I was in my mid-thirties, I was falling trees for Bob Ubleis in the Fort St. James area.

At the time, we were logging a right-of-way into a timber sale where Alec Legget later built a sawmill.

We had three cabins set up at our logging site where the crew stayed during the week and went home on weekends.

The logging site was in the Horseshoe Lake area about 50 miles north of Fort St. James.

On one particular Monday morning, on our way to work, we encountered fresh grizzly bear tracks in the foot deep new snow that fell the previous night. It was hunting season, so I always took my gun along in case we encountered a moose or a deer on the road.

When Bob, my boss, saw those big tracks, he got excited and said to me: “Anton, go get him!”

I had never hunted grizzly bear in my life, so I made an excuse by telling him I didn’t have enough trees felled to keep the cat operator busy and needed to do more falling.

But after him countering my excuses, I was left with no option but to give it a try.

I took the crew into camp, got my hunting gear together and drove back to where the bear tracks left the road and went east into the forest.

I parked the truck, tied on my belt and hunting knife and pocketed my bullets and compass.

I announced to the bear I was coming and then I crossed myself and asked St. Anthony to be on my side and followed the tracks.

The bear seemed to know where he was going, heading straight east. I followed the tracks very quietly and kept my eyes wide open watching for any movement. As I was alone, I felt it was safe to keep my gun loaded and cocked, but with the safety on.

I tracked the bear for two miles, then the tracks disappeared between two Lodgepole pines and appeared to veer off to the left.

I looked in that direction, and then turned  back to the right.

There, in front of me, is a dead moose, and the bear crouched down behind it, ready to jump.

He was looking straight at me, about 20 feet away, one jump and he would have been on me.

I stayed still and quiet, releasing the safety slowly and quietly on my Savage lever action 308.

I raised the gun smoothly to my shoulder and carefully aimed right between the eyes and an inch or two higher, and pulled the trigger very gently and fired a shot.

Bang!

I quickly reloaded, preparing for a second shot.

The bear never moved.

I kept my eye on him for a minute or so, but he didn’t make a move.

Eventually, I kicked the bear in the rump.

Nothing, so I yanked his short little tail. Still nothing.

When we finally skinned out the bear, we found that the bullet had penetrated his skull, shattered about six inches of neck bone and the mushroomed bullet was still lodged under the skin.

We attached a rope to the hide and pulled it out to the road where we loaded it into the truck and headed to town.

the hide and claws were so impressive Howard Blackburn wanted the head and went all the way back out and carried it back.

 

Bob Ubleis had the bear mounted and I can still see the bear’s beady eyes glaring at me in my mind.