Next to winning the lottery, the No. 2 thing on my bucket list is to shoot a black bear in the USA.
I’ve taken six black bears in four decades, all in Canada. I had an opportunity several years ago in northern Maine on my first day on watch, but decided to wait for a bigger one, a bear that never materialized. It was then I heard the saying, “A bear considered too small on the first day of the hunt becomes very big when you walk out of the woods on the last day without one.”
I’ll be heading for Maine in nine days for a second chance. Actually, this hunt was something I hadn’t planned, but while attending the New York 4H Shooting Sports banquet, I was sitting with Albert Peck and his grandson, Clarence Chamberlin, of Peck’s Lake, when Clarence won the bid for a Maine bear hunt. The hunt was a regular annual donation from Lugdon Lodge at Eagle Lake (www.lugdonlodge.wordpr ess.com).
Albert and Clarence twisted my arm, “forcing” me to accept their invitation to join them. Both Albert and Clarence have hunted successfully there, and they assured me it is first-class and I would see bears.
I’ve shot bears with a 20-gauge slug gun, bow-and-arrow and several different caliber rifles. My choice this year is a Henry Arms .30-30 lever-action rifle. This caliber has been around since 1894, and is a favorite of deer hunters, especially those who roam the Adirondacks during deer and bear seasons. Only 39 inches long and weighing just seven pounds makes it easy to carry and maneuver in woods, stand or blind.
It has a steel receiver, a round, blued, 20-inch barrel, five-round capacity and deluxe American walnut stock with a rubber butt plate. I removed the XS Ghost ring, and, as a youngster who never missed “The Rifleman” TV show, I added a Henry Large Loop Lever (www.henryrifles.com).
I also added a Leupold VX-3 2.5-8X36MM, matte finished, senergy scope with a duplex reticle, Xtended Twilight lens (for those first sunrise and last sunset legal time in the woods shots), DiamondCoat lens surfaces and Krypton waterproofing.
I chose the Federal Fusion Boat-Tail 170-grain bullet. This round leaves the barrel at 2,200 feet per second (fps) with 1,825 foot pounds (ft-lbs) of energy. At 100 yards, it’s traveling at 1,950 fps with 1,435 ft-lbs of energy. I doubt my shot will be any longer. It’s more than high enough terminal energy to down a black bear on impact.
At the range, the three (Henry, Leupold and Federal Fusion) proved to be the perfect recipe for accuracy. A little bore sighting by Paul Galcik, owner of Olde Saratoga Shooters Supply in Schuylerville, got me very close, and a few right and windage adjustments produced a three-shot group within an inch at 40 yards, and one or two clicks at 100 yards repeated the accuracy. If I miss, it won’t be the gun/scope/bullet’s fault.
I’m adding an American Technologies Network Corporation Shot Trak HD video camera to the Henry. I haven’t decided yet, but it’ll either be attached to the scope or under the barrel. This 4.8 ounce, full HD video (1920x1080/30fps) has a built-in microphone, is water-resistant and can record for two hours (www.atncorp.com).
I’m definitely “ready for bear.”